Monday, May 23, 2011

Why I Love NASCAR: 1,100 Miles of Racing

View from the 2010 Coca Cola 600
Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
For as long as memory serves me Memorial Day Weekend has embodied an emotion-filled, poignant, and high-energy period. From the time I was a tiny tot and took part in parades honoring the fallen men and women who have bravely, dutifully, and honorably served our country. I watched as my parents cheerfully donated a tidy sum to a veteran selling paper poppies and proudly tie it to their car visor for all to see. I recall a relaxed atmosphere of welcoming the unofficial start to summer, chasing fireflies at bedtime, and bemoaning the fact that there was still two weeks left of school (an interminable wait) in my New Jersey district. And, I will always remember, without fail, that the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend was the time my father made sure to be close to a television to watch the Indianapolis 500 and later in the day the World 600.

Racing was a part of my vocabulary as baseball, football, soccer, or dancing was a part of others. It wasn’t that I was a fan myself, nor did I even understand that others didn’t watch racing like my father tried to do, but I just knew it existed, and especially on Memorial Sunday. While others were prepping for a barbeque or filling the kiddie pool, my father was crowded around a television wanting to see who would win at the Brickyard and who would be in Victory Lane in Charlotte.

As I grew up and had other influences on my life (my husband) Memorial Sunday still was synonymous with all day racing; eleven hundred miles run between the Indianapolis 500 and the World 600 run in Charlotte, North Carolina. My attention was peaked in the years eligible drivers vied to drive all eleven hundred in one day. And, as much as I appreciated the history and tradition of the Indianapolis 500, it was the World 600 that kept my rapt attention. As the lights fell on the track, the miles counted down, and the enormity of the task at hand sunk in for me about my driver, I was glued to my television set. Even if my guy hadn’t attempted all eleven hundred miles, simply participating in the six hundred seemed Herculean!

Even after my waning interest in NASCAR occurred due to the loss of Dale Earnhardt and personal changes, I still watched several races per season:  the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 400, and the World 600. And, as I’ve mentioned before, it was the end of the renamed Coca Cola 600 in 2007 when I found my way completely back to NASCAR fandom. The conclusion of the race left me with much to discuss. My husband, a great conversationalist, listened to my passionate rants about what I had witnessed. Mid diatribe he stopped me, insisted I join the NASCAR social networking site he was a member, and begin blogging my opinions. I was flabbergasted! He signed me up, created my moniker, a yang to his yin “Racer 187”, and sent me on my way. The rest, as they say, is NASCAR history! I wrote feverishly about the night’s race. I wrote about Casey Mears and Kyle Petty who had both enjoyed highlight finishes respectively for their time in their careers. I wrote about Dr. Jerry Punch who was still on the mic like he was when I began watching NASCAR on ESPN. I wrote about my connection to racing. I was constantly writing. And, in the four years since that time, I haven’t stopped!

The Memorial Sunday will always carry deep emotion with me. My family and I re-energize after the Memorial Day Parade we march in with the Cub Scouts the day before, we plan a fun day with family and friends, we display the poppy we received from our donation to a veteran, and we say a prayer for all those who died serving our country. Then, as day turns to night we take our rightful places in front of the television and take in the 600 from Charlotte. This day of racing will always hold a special place in my heart and always serve to remind me why I love NASCAR.

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Chief 187 is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187 Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.

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