Sunday, September 19, 2010
New Hampshire Motor Speedway is the only track I've ever visited for a NASCAR race. I grew up 20 minutes away but never actually attended an event until recently. I went to a race there at the age of 14, nearly 20 years ago but I can't tell you much about it other than to say it was lots of fun. I wish I could tell you more, but I do have a lot of other stories though.
I wasn’t much of a race follower in high school. I didn’t pay much attention to any kind of pop culture during those years. One summer, I worked at a hotel in Concord, NH as part of the cleaning crew. Race weekend came along and management warned us that we had to be on our best behaviors around the drivers and teams. I didn’t mind cleaning their rooms, though had I known who’s room I was cleaning it may have made the experience more fun. But being professional, we turned a blind eye on who slept were.
Later that year, I switched hotels to start my first waitress job. Race weekend came along and my manager approached me and said, “I just sat a party of three for you but we have to talk. He’s a really rich and famous driver so I need you to be a professional about it.”
I had no idea who he and the other two were so it was easy to do my job. All I can remember is the older men had mustaches’ and the younger guy was a cocky looking kid with a baseball hat and light brown hair. He didn’t make much of an impression on me. This past summer, I picked my brain over and over again to try to remember who they were and nothing pops into mind. I wish I could say that it was Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress and Dale Earnhardt Junior, but I don’t believe it was; it happened in 1995.
My sister was the NASCAR obsessed fan. She was smart because her junior year in high school she decided to head to NHMS and apply for a job in parking and traffic control. She got close to the cars in the infield and one night she met a modified driver who she later married.
In 2001 my sister invited me to her (now) husband’s race. I got to hang out in the pits and visit cars in the garages. I only knew about Jeff Gordon and the Earnhardt’s. Admittedly I had a small crush on Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the time, but that was before I started paying attention to the actual racing. I had hoped to meet him and looked everywhere for him but I never crossed his path. Instead I saw Jeff Gordon. He was surrounded by a lot of fans. “Go meet him!” My sister encouraged me. I shook my head. I wasn’t comfortable. He was signing autographs and I didn’t have a pen or paper ready. Besides, I was nervous, maybe a little star struck.
Fast forward to February 2002. My sister invited me to Florida, her husband was racing (in Modified). I was all excited, I would finally get a chance to watch a Daytona 500 live and in person and I dared to dream that this would be the time I get to meet Dale Earnhardt Jr. That dream was quickly crushed when I found out the Modified series raced at a different track in a different town. I felt stupid but at least now I look back laughing at my silly ignorance about the sport. How could I enjoy watching racing but not knowing a thing about it?
Although my brother-in-law no longer races, he still builds engines for the series. His friends are also still racing. In 2007 I was invited by one of those friends along with my cousin to watch a Modified race at NHMS from the driver’s pit box. I was excited to go and this time I was going to pay attention. I was taking a college photography class and I took out one of the cameras, I had a lot of practicing to do and I told myself I’d give shooting the race a chance. I took a lot of pictures, but the sun ruined most of my shots which broke my heart. To make a long story short, I later found out I was missing a piece to the camera, the piece my class wasn’t authorized to rent out because we weren’t at that advanced point of training. You can check out the best shots I did get on my other blogger page here.
Since then I've taken an interest in racing as a writer. I paid a little more attention each season and this past year I became obsessed and promised myself I’d become a pro. It’s the first and only sport I can watch without really having a rival, and it’s the first and only sport I’m actually interested in the sport, rather than just a team.
Last spring I started to write a movie script about a journalist who lives in Boston and isn’t familiar with NASCAR; never the less, her boss assigns her to cover the race in New Hampshire. She goes along and the story unfolds from there. During the spring, I called NHMS a million times trying to convince them to give me a media pass so I could experience being a part of the media during a race. I’d love to be a part of their team. Of course I never got my credentials and wasn’t allowed in as anyone other than a fan in the grand stands. That didn't stop me though. I visited the track all four days, just to see how close I could get.
I even visited the local seafood restaurant and when I left, I bumped into Richard Petty; it was unexpected and exciting. I wrote about it here on another blog. The next night, my parents went out for a few drinks at that local restaurant, we arrived right after Kurt Busch left. I was bummed.
That weekend, I also got to meet Miss Sprint Cup Monica Plumbo at the Sprint Experience. I also met Amanda Wright, Bob Pockrass, Jeff Gluck, Ramsey Poston, and Landon Cassill along with several others at the Tweet Up.
I'm glad I went to the race that day; it was the perfect last day in NH (I moved to NC the next day). I didn’t have my camera but I took pictures with my cell phone, though I managed to lose a large portion of them. One of my favorites is the one you see as my profile picture. At least I can say that I met "The King Richard Petty."
So that’s my story about NHMS. I’m not there this weekend. now that I do live near Charlotte in North Carolina. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to afford to go to a race again, but since I live here I’m planning on going to an All Star Race sometime soon.
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