Monday, May 30, 2011

Why I Love NASCAR: Television

Unlike these fans celebrating with Carl Edwards after his All-Star win,
many fans enjoy the race from the comfort of their couch each week.
Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR
Recently I did a three-part series about live racing being one of the many reasons I love NASCAR. As I reported, I’ve been lucky enough to attend three live Cup races and have enjoyed each experience immensely. But the bulk of the races I’ve seen have been broadcast on television. This is, quite frankly, a very comfortable way to watch NASCAR races.

As a young NASCAR fan in Virginia, I was uninterested in the actual racing involved in a Cup race. The miles dragged on for me, my eyes became droopy, and a mid-race nap was a preferable way to watch the marathon event. But, I was awake and completely tuned in with rapt attention to the pre-race and post-race editions of the race day coverage. The journalists and commentators became celebrities to me. The drivers’ personalities mattered more than the horsepower they harnessed or the lap speeds they qualified. I liked to see the drivers as three-dimensional beings, not jockeys in a firesuit.

Eventually, perhaps through osmosis or because my husband’s savant-like knowledge of all things NASCAR grew, I began to immerse myself in the racing. Of course I still connected to the humanity of the pre and post race spots, but the racing became much more exciting as I came to understand what it took to muscle the car, the strategies implemented to put oneself in contention for a race win or a points lead. Drafting became a part of my working vocabulary and I practiced on the highway, tucking in behind professional truckers. Conserving fuel I could understand as being poor, young students who lived on a pittance, we were also conserving our fuel. Slowly I began to see how different talents were needed at different types of tracks. Through the week in and week out exposure to NASCAR races on my television I witnessed the importance of teamwork; Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace didn’t win races alone, they were part of a well-oiled machine where every piece worked in conjunction with another piece to create a winning combination.

Through Benny Parsons I learned about the different track locations and, especially, the foods they were known. These interludes whet the appetite not only for the delicacies he was sampling, but to explore each NASCAR track for its own special traits. Television broadcasts afforded me a backlog of knowledge, entertainment, and racing trivia, terminology, and history. Through television I could witness the benediction, singing of the National Anthem, and flyover completely. It was right there on the screen with my eyes glued to it.

Although the cast of characters has changed, BP and Dale Earnhardt passed, DW and Dale Jr. are respectively in the booth and on the track, the excellent broadcasting still comes through. Jeff Hammond explains the ins and outs of a Cup car, Mike Joy, a throwback to my early days who is like an old, dear friend, steers DW and Larry McReynolds through calling the race, and each year, twice a year, we are treated to the reasons we must eat a Martinsville hot dog!

Being at the race is an unparalleled experience, but watching NASCAR Sprint Cup races from home on the television is a terrific alternative. From clean bathrooms to reasonable food, comfortable couches to luxurious naps, and the plethora of NASCAR-driven information available throughout the broadcast, watching racing on television is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.









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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