|The green flag waves on the 2011 Daytona 500.|
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR
But now The Great American Race is upon us with the promise of beastly machines running at maximum performance by jockeys by the names of Jimmie, Tony, Kyle, Junior, Kurt, Kasey, Clint, Carl, Danica and AJ.
New paint schemes, proud sponsors, and vibrant colors are rolled out to sway our allegiance. Fans are assessing their loyalty, learning new driver numbers and crew chief names.
Some are still reeling from the loss of a hero whose death at the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 forever delineated a before and after for NASCAR fans.
If fortunate to be in Daytona for the race and surrounding events, there is no comparison to any other experience. Many make the pilgrimage to be a part of the community that springs up every February.
If watching on the family couch is the locale, rituals abound. From food to attire, personal pit stops to sound levels, true race fans have their peculiarities that must be adhered when watching The Great American Race.
And not only race fans watch this spectacle. Like the Super Bowl for non-football fans, many will watch the NASCAR season opener because it is simply tradition.
The commercials are fantastic, the race is legendary, and the possibility of the (or several) Big One is ever-present.
Because it is a restrictor plate race, anybody in the field has a better than average shot of winning the race.
Because it is the first race of the season all teams are on equal footing points-wise.
Haulers are flooded with fans buying racing swag; prognosticators are writing and reporting their picks for the race and the year-end champion.
I’m beginning my second season as a part of the NASCAR media and I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of this opener at the Daytona 500.
Although watching from home with most of the Americans, it is a time-honored event in my home and one that has even more meaning for me now.
The pageantry, the drama, the drivers, crew chiefs, pit crews, and media all converge to make the Daytona 500, The Great American Race, 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.