Monday, March 28, 2011

Why I Love NASCAR: Friends

Fans watch the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
in June 2010. ( Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

My husband and I started watching NASCAR as a way to fill lonely Sundays while living away from our families. We were living in southwestern Virginia, attending college and starting our careers, and wanted to explore the sport of NASCAR that we’d heard so much about. What I never expected was that NASCAR would bring us together with people who would wind up being our dear friends.

When we started watching NASCAR in 1990, social media was non-existent. There was nowhere to go online to read the latest NASCAR news, neither Facebook nor Twitter to discuss the race in real time with other fans. We would merely site down in front of our deep box of a television (no flat screen) to watch NASCAR races on cable, mostly ESPN. A community of fans could be found at races or in a local bar that put the race on, but a vast union of fans apart from those places were difficult to assemble, especially from around the country/world.

As the decades wore on, technology went into warp speed. The Internet exploded, NASCAR became vastly popular around the nation, and races went mainstream to network television. By the time my husband bought himself an iPod and found a bunch of podcasts to listen, the future was at hand. He tried several NASCAR podcasts before settling on a couple favorites. One eventually tried its hand at creating a social networking site for their NASCAR/podcast fans. My husband was a stalwart member at that site. Within a few months I joined the site and began blogging there.

This was my first time writing for public. Although a writer since childhood, I had never shown my work. The public forum at this site and my seemingly endless ideas for blogs led me to a prolific career as a “blogger.” The regulars at the site welcomed me, read my blogs, and sought out my work. We forged online friendships based on our shared passion for NASCAR. The site was user-friendly, full of wonderful people/fans of NASCAR, and was a terrific place to showcase my writings. Quickly the online friendships grew into strong relationships. My husband and I, who live in New Jersey (not a hotbed of NASCAR fandom) sought other NASCAR fans who lived near us to meet and socialize. We did and made lifelong friendships that started simply because of our shared love of NASCAR.

Over the years we continued to meet more and more people from the site. We’ve attended races, hosted barbecues, met in NYC to see the movie Dale, and are now excited for our trip next month to Charlotte, North Carolina, to see even more friends while making time to see the NASCAR Hall of Fame and several shops.

We’ve found that NASCAR fans are great people. Usually there are many threads that connect us, more than just our love of the sport. Regardless of who a favorite driver is, what manufacturer you support, and whether you enjoy Darrell Waltrip shouting “Boogity Boogity Boogity, let’s go racin’ Boys!” simply being a NASCAR fan makes you a part of an ever-growing fraternity. From watching the races on our (still) deep box of a television to conversing with myriad fans on Twitter and Facebook, NASCAR is a fantastic place to make friends. It has given me a sport to follow, a hobby to share and keep me closer to my husband, an outlet for my creative juices, and an ever-increasing social circle. Friends are yet another reason why I love NASCAR.

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