Saturday, November 06, 2004

Speedway, or My Day at the Track

Today was a day spent at the speedway. What a wonderful way to spend it too. The roar of the engines, the smell of the exhaust, the adrenaline in the air. There is nothing that exudes testosterone more than a NASCAR race.
I went along with a friend to the Phoenix International Raceway to see the Busch Series drivers fight it out on the pavement for 200 laps. The weather was perfect for a race...82 degrees, blue skies, white clouds dotting the skyline and a light wind. I couldn't have been more excited.
When we first arrived, they called out each driver. It was interesting to see which ones were booed and which ones were greeted with a positive howl. I had decided to root for Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray...young drivers that I really enjoy watching.
After 75 of the 200 laps, we decided to walk around and visit the haulers. I love watching people at the races. There is such a diversity of fans. There is the woman dressed all in #20 orange (from shoe to cap), including gold #20 earrings. There is the man wearing the #24 shirt, socks, shoelaces and cap, as well as sporting a #24 tattoo. These are the unabashed fans who have pledged their allegiance to just one driver. These people will defend their driver anytime, anywhere.
Then there are those who can't decide. They wear a #88 cap, #18 shirt and then carry a scanner bag with a #5. They just know they like drivers, period. Why not spread the love around?
Then there are those who really just love the sport. These are the people who walk around casually in a hat and appropriate attire for a day outside. They also carry a light load, perhaps a scanner and earplugs, but nothing more. They don't wander the merchandise aisles, they don't need to. They walk straight to their seats and then stay put during the entire race. They can talk clearly with cars racing by, noisily. They know everything there is to know and are glad to answer questions.
NASCAR attracts everyone. It is the one sport that everyone can relate to, or imagine themselves in because we all drive a car. There is something so fascinating and exciting about driving a car so fast and dangerous. It is no wonder drivers are considered to be sexy by their female fans. Who wouldn't want a man who can drive and control a fast car while enduring 3 hours in a 120 degree car? They are athletic and disciplined. And don't even get me started on the physics that is involved in race cars...that is the whole reason I drawn into the sport. There is science that goes into every car and engine.
The race did not disappoint. The last laps were battled out between Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch. Jamie won the race and everyone cheered. Then, people cleared out, concentrating on driving home, but all the while remembering their heroes from the day.
My friend and I walked back to her parents' trailer. We sat, drank beer and watched people walk by, enjoying the sunset and just relaxing after a fun day. That is the way a weekend day should be.
Now that I have put my memories of this day into my blog, I have to go back to reality. Back to school and work...until next time NASCAR is in town.
Just one last note...races are best when shared with those close to your heart. No matter how you share the battle from the track, it is amazing how much motorsports can connect people. Motorsports fans are passionate, smart and engaging. They make great friends and companions. I want to say thank you to all of the motorsports fans in my life...thank you for being you!

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