Monday, February 28, 2011

Why I Love NASCAR



Credit: NASCARmedia.com
I am a NASCAR fan. I’ve been one since 1990, but I’ve known about racing my whole life. My father is an amateur racecar driver. He loves vintage automobiles and was a stalwart member of the Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA). He has a love of pre-war racecars, a lot of British makes like Allard and MG, and has a passion for Crosleys. Over his life he has amassed an amazing collection of historic vehicles, selling some for one reason or another, buying others, and keeping his all-time favorites. In our home I saw an occasional football game on the television, but, when Dad had control of the set, it was invariably racing that was on. Whatever the Wild World of Sports would air we would be watching, especially if it involved four-wheeled vehicles. And, although I can’t remember watching one race in its entirety in my youth, I can tell you I always knew who Richard Petty was. Richard is King. Period.

It wasn’t until the summer of 1990 that I was thrust into a situation where I allowed myself to enjoy racing with my father. I had never participated in watching him race, as my opinions were heavily shaded by my mother who was not interested in this part of my father’s life. But during the summer of 1990 a film called Days of Thunder was in the theaters and starred Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall. My father was adamant about seeing the film. My mother was not. I, being home from my first year in college, wanted to bond with my Dad and decided, especially since I attended school in Virginia, NASCAR country, that I’d like to check the movie out with him. From the moment the lights went dim, the cars in the movie revved their engine, and the season was flagrantly misrepresented in the movie (I would later find out) I was hooked on NASCAR. We both loved the flick. For my father it was just cool to see a film about racing, as Grand Prix and Le Mans were motion picture history by then. I loved the atmosphere depicted, the camaraderie, the sounds, and the lifestyle that is racing.

During my second year of college in Virginia I began living with my husband. We were anxious to assimilate into the culture of Virginia and that culture definitely includes NASCAR. My husband, most curious about motor sports ever since he met my dad four years earlier, wanted to immerse himself in watching a race. We tuned in to the last race of the 1990 Winston Cup Season. Not knowing any of the cast of characters (drivers, car owners, crew chiefs, etc.) we simply listened to the announcers during pre-race and chose the driver we perceived as the ‘underdog’. That driver was Dale Earnhardt. And the one to beat was a driver named Mark Martin. It’s funny now as little did we know then that Mark Martin had never won the Winston Cup but Dale Earnhardt already held three for the years 1980, 1986, and 1987. Right or wrong we threw our allegiance behind Dale Earnhardt who had to lead the most laps and win the race to beat Mark Martin for the 1990 Championship. It was seemingly impossible, but we didn’t know the kind of champion we threw our fandom. History shows that Dale Earnhardt accomplished his goals that day. We were hooked after one race and began watching NASCAR in earnest starting with the 1991 season.

I like NASCAR because it gave and continues to give me a common passion with my father and my husband. It is fine entertainment and it is a sport with heart. I would like to reveal all of the myriad of reasons I like NASCAR. I am Chief 187, crew chief of my family and of Team 187. I am a NASCAR fan like you. Join me every Monday as I bring you ever more reasons why I like NASCAR.

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