Racecar is a Palindrome And Other Racing Stuff: My Family’s Experience With NASCAR

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Why yes, there aren’t any rules prohibiting you from rooting for multiple teams at once as you can see by my attire. My Kevin Harvick shirt is there, underneath all the layers (it was COLD!)

I might have shared once or twice that my family is huge into NASCAR.  Recently I was asked to share my family’s experience with the sport with
Fanatics, and I figured it would be good inspiration to perhaps get me to do some more writing.  Naturally the more part didn’t happen, but I did have a lot of fun writing this post!

I myself didn’t always follow the sport, my husband being the fanatic (not just of NASCAR, he is into sports, period). I simply watched from afar, poking a good bit of fun at him.

The first race I ever really watched was Daytona in 2001.  Ironically, that was the day that Dale Earnhardt died, and I just happened to be watching.  How sad is that introduction to the sport?  Not too long after that a show was created that showed NASCAR drivers in their natural habitats.  It was called NASCAR 360 and it followed around several drivers as they went about their day.  I developed quite the affinity for one Mr. Kevin Harvick and his wife Delana, and have been a big fan ever since.  I also root for Matt Kenseth, and also have been known to cheer for Mark Martin, Kent Schrader, and Jeff Burton when they were racing full-time.

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I love the fact that you can look right in the pit box and see Delana Harvick sitting there!  Now Kevin has moved on to a different team since then, but he will always be the driver of the 29 to me!

My husband has been a race fan all his life.  He’s from Oskaloosa, Iowa, where there is a racetrack right uptown.  He grew up rooting for Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, the amazing Bill Elliot.

By the time he came around, my son was born into a family that loved racing.  At the tender age of two he stole my thick NASCAR preview magazine and memorized all the names of the drivers, their numbers, their owners, and so forth.  He was TWO.

This two year old also decided that Jeff Gordon was his favorite driver.  In my household at that time, it was almost blasphemy.  Eventually as Jeff became less whiney, we learned to tolerate this decision.  It could have been worse, he could have chosen Tony Stewart.  This child was so into Jeff Gordon that he was Jeff Gordon for Halloween three years in a row, and still has a Jeff Gordon themed bedroom!

He decided he was a Jeff Gordon fan at the tender age of two.  I swear his first words were "Dupont Chevrolet".

He decided he was a Jeff Gordon fan at the age of two. I swear his first words were “Dupont Chevrolet”.

My daughter has been dragging her feet about NASCAR.  She likes it but not like we do.  Greg Biffle is her man.  She also roots for Kyle Busch because she likes M&Ms.  Once or twice she has uttered the words “Go Danica Patrick.”  Them’s fightin words in this house…

I would like the record to note that I have done quite well in two different NASCAR fantasy leagues.  I kicked butt.  I was awesome.  I’m only throwing that in because it will probably be the only time I will be able to say I did well at anything involving sports.

In April of 2012 we got the opportunity to attend our first race as a family at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.  I being the anxious one naturally balked at the cost of attending such an event, but in the end it came out okay.  It was definitely a unique experience, and here are a few things we took away from it:

Squeeeeee!  We were so close to the cars!!!!

Squeeeeee! We were so close to the cars!!!!

1)  No matter what they say the weather is going to be, prepare for the opposite.  It was supposed to be 75 and beautiful.  It was in the 40s and freezing.

2)  Kettlecorn is a wonderful way to satiate two starving young children.

3)  Choose your seats wisely. The ones we got weren’t overly expensive, and we got to see the drivers pretty close when they had driver introductions.

4)  Bring a good camera.  My camera was so awesome that I got a picture of Delana Harvick sitting in the pit booth, and I was pretty far away.  So.Awesome.

5)  Earplugs.  You’ll need them.  Trust me.

6)  It’s nothing, absolutely nothing like watching it on tv.  You can see and hear everything.  And experience things like when they say that a car doesn’t sound right, you know it when you’re there in person.

7)  Races are kind of boring when no one wrecks.  There was one caution for Bobby Labonte blowing up.  That was it.  Booo.

8)  Get a souvenir t-shirt.  Get two.  Hell get seven of every driver and wear them all over the top of one another.

9)  Preschoolers will sleep where they lie, even at a noisy racetrack.

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Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

NASCAR is a family thing in our household.  It’s probably the only thing we can agree on.  Forget football, soccer, tennis, curling, etc-we all enjoy this sport.  We may not like the same drivers, but it is fun watching it together!

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One year, Daytona fell on Valentine’s Day. They did that just for us, right? 🙂

 

NASCAR: Metaphors for Life, Not Necessarily On Four Wheels

They bring them to the races, they just don’t put them in the racecars…

I guess you could say I’m a NASCAR geek.  WAIT!  Hear me out here.  If you don’t like the sport, just read this post. If you still think that all fans are drunk people without shirts, keep in mind that I keep my shirt on during all races.  I’m writing this because I wanted to let people know that while I am not a big football fan, there are other sports I find more tolerable (and understandable) than that sport.  There are a couple of sports I even really enjoy.  NASCAR happens to be one of them.

I love NASCAR.  I didn’t when I met my husband.  As a matter of fact I didn’t even after being married to him for awhile.  I guess I thought it was just like the races that I went with him to sometimes at our local track, just waaaaaaay longer.  I had been to some different kinds of car races but had never been exposed to the big leagues.  That all changed when NASCAR 360 premiered on TV. It followed three different drivers each week.  It showed NASCAR drivers in their natural habitat (not just the racetrack).  It was funny-it turns out that there are a lot of interesting characters in the sport.  I saw them as people instead of crash test dummies in race cars.  As I watched this show I also started to watch the races instead of them just being background noise. Not only did I start watching and liking the sport, I even participated in the NASCAR fantasy league at my husband’s work, and did pretty well.

A few things to note:  not all women who like NASCAR like Danica Patrick.  I don’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for women in racing.  I also don’t tend to like the drivers that everyone else seems to like.  I also don’t like beer.  I even wear clothes that cover my body.

In April I went to my very first live NASCAR race at the Kansas Speedway.  I wasn’t sure if I’d like it.  Come on, I’m ADD-I can’t sit still that long.  At least at home there are other things going on and I can come and go as I please, check my computer, go do stuff during cautions and red flags and rain delays.  AND I don’t like loud stuff.  But it was AWESOME!  There are not words to describe seeing it in person.  We sat just a few rows from the track itself.  Other than two small children having to constantly go to the bathroom, I got to see almost all of the race.  It was deafeningly loud-I had to go buy earplugs.  There is so much stuff you can’t hear on the TV.  You can actually tell when someone’s engine isn’t running right by the way it sounds.  You can hear someone blow up.  I’m sure you can hear someone crash too, but unfortunately there were really no wrecks that day.  I don’t watch it for the wrecks, but I kind of wanted to hear what it sounded like.  I did get to see a car go up in smoke, though.  I’d like to go again someday,  but to a different track so I can see how it’s different from what I saw.

Thinking about going to a race for the first time?  Here’s what I learned.  I call these The Four W’s.

1) WEATHER-Bring every type of clothing imaginable along.  The weather will not be whatever they forecast that day.  It was supposed to be warm and sunny.  It was cold, cloudy, and windy.

2)  WALKING-Train for a 5K.  You’ll have to walk at least that far to get from where you park to the track.

3)  WEALTH-Don’t pay for the really expensive seats if you can.  We ordered the cheapest ones that seemed to have a good view.  The seats were awesome!

4)  WON’T LOSE YOUR HEARING-Buy earplugs.  It’s louder than anything you’ll experience, unless you hang out at the airport.  We brought hearing protection for the kids, but ended up having to buy those foam earplugs they sell there.

Thankfully it wasn’t THAT cold. There were no snow angels made. That actually DID happen at a race once…

Incidentally, Princess Difficult fell asleep during the NASCAR race.  How she did that I’ll never know… she never sleeps any other time!  The Professor was able to concentrate for the entire event, of course we bought him a program when we arrived.  He always does better when there’s reading material.  And there was popcorn.  Lots and lots of popcorn.  As long as there is popcorn, he’s happy.

What I really like about NASCAR-it’s a very family centric sport.  You always see the drivers with their families.  Many of them travel right with their families by their side.  It’s very rare to hear about the types of scandals you hear involving athletes in other sports.  But then again, when would they have time?  Read up on a NASCAR driver and what their schedule is like-it’s nuts.

I wanted to write a post about NASCAR to not only show that I like and know something about a sport, but also because I’ve been thinking that in a way it can be used as a metaphor for life.  I put these in bold for no particular reason…

1) There are times that due to no fault of your own, things go wrong-Engines blow, people crash.   In the everyday world you can do everything right, and things may still go very wrong.

2)  You can’t make everybody happy all the time-You can win that race or do well, but somebody’s going to be upset about something.  It’s like having kids…

3)  Sometimes you just run out of gas-I’ve been there.  Often.  And I don’t mean the gas in my car…

4)  You can be the most popular person, but it doesn’t mean you’re the winner-Can you say Dale Earnhardt Jr?  Everybody may seem to like you, but it has no guarantees in life.

5)  Sometimes nice guys just finish last-Or not first, anyway.  It’s often true.  I’ve been real nice for a long time.  But…

What drivers do we follow at our house?  My son, the former Jeff Gordon fan who hates to lose, will cheer on whoever is winning.  My daughter likes the #16, Greg Biffle.  Not necessarily because of any particular reason, but at the racetrack he had the pink kids hats for sale.  And she got that because noone was in line there.  He was the points leader at the time!  Greg Biffle, the Rodney Dangerfield of NASCAR.  My husband roots for the Busch brothers.  We all sort of root for Kyle Busch, because we really like M&Ms. If you ask Evil Genius if he likes Jimmie Johnson, no, but he’s a huge fan of his crew chief (Chad Knaus).  Someone who can pull off so many spectacular comebacks in races has to be an evil genius too.

And me?  As I said, I have never been one to like the real popular drivers.  I am a Kevin Harvick fan, and I don’t even like Budweiser (or any beer for that matter).  I also like Matt Kenseth – consistent and levelheaded.  He’s also won a whole championship without winning any races.  If you don’t like the Chase format, blame him.

You just have to like a sport that has a sense of humor.  That’s probably why I’m drawn to it.  A few years ago there was a good chance I wouldn’t have liked it.  But now, well, you have to like any sport that puts a guy in a pink firesuit.  (For the record, I hate the color pink.)

Best advertising campaign ever “Who doesn’t like puppies, kittens, and little baby seals?”