Saturday, February 16, 2013

One Sunday my life changed forever: A letter from the editor

I’m used to the stares. I've been getting them for years...20 years to be exact. I’m a woman and a NASCAR fan and I’ll never apologize for that. I've explained the sport to many, turned a few uninterested into hardcore fans, and debated the merits with hundreds of people over the years. My friends thought I was crazy in high school for having photos of racecar drivers on my walls instead of the latest teen heartthrob, and I drove my family insane with a Christmas wish list full of memorabilia.

I think racecars are sexy though I don’t give a thought to what the men who drive them look like. I didn't start following this sport because I had a crush on a driver or because I was trying to impress a guy in my life. I started following this sport because in one minute of horror and disbelief I earned a lifetime of respect for the men and women for whom racing isn't only a love, but also a career.

Prior to the 1993 Daytona 500 I had no knowledge of NASCAR or any other type of racing. Growing up in a family where Sundays were for football, racing wasn't even on my radar. For some reason, the television was tuned to CBS that afternoon and I clearly remember complaining that this had to be the most boring thing in the world. All they were doing was going in circles. Surely this would be more entertaining if someone wrecked, right? That might be exciting.

And then it happened. A driver who I'd never heard of before that day went for a wild ride through the grass. As I watched the No. 2 car of Rusty Wallace disintegrate as it barrel rolled countless times. I was in shock. Just moments before I had complained that a wreck would be exciting, but never did I imagine I'd get my wish or that it would be so terrifying to watch. In my 12-year-old brain I was somehow responsible for this accident. Surely the driver had to be seriously injured or even worse, dead. As a hush fell across the stands and the commentators replayed the crash over and over while trying to determine the cause, I sat on the floor, not six feet from the television, feeling sick.  I still experience the same sense of dread every time there’s a serious accident on track.


Miraculously Wallace not only survived the crash but exited the vehicle and walked to the ambulance under his own power. That was the moment I became a fan of the sport and of that driver. It was in that moment I earned respect for the beauty of the sport of racing and the sheer passion these men must have for their jobs to risk their lives like that on a weekly basis. 

That same day I got to experience the family aspect of the sport. Watching as Ned Jarrett called the final laps of his son's first victory at Daytona and seeing the shots of Dale's mother Martha shielding her eyes was incredible. Even at 12 years old I understood this was something special and something that would be relived over and over for years to come. 

My first year as a NASCAR fan was remarkable in more ways than one. From that pivotal moment in my life watching the Daytona 500, to Jeff Gordon earning Rookie of the Year Honors to Dale Earnhardt winning the Championship to "my driver" winning ten races, I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to the sport. Of course my first year as a fan was also marked with heartbreak. The loss of both Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki came that year, two drivers who I never really got to know as a fan but who impacted the sport on so many levels. Through their untimely and tragic deaths I learned that NASCAR is truly a family and in times of crisis we band together unlike any other group. 

I’ve never known a NASCAR without Jeff Gordon. The only place I’ve seen “The King” race is in the highlight reels. In 20 years I’ve cried, laughed, screamed, and cheered along with millions of fans. 

Three and a half years ago I made a change. I handed in my “fan card” for my “media card” when I launched Skirts and Scuffs. I’ve gone from someone who cheers for one driver to someone who cheers for the sport of NASCAR as a whole and am better for it. I’ll always be a fan of racing, but I’m a different type of fan than I used to be. I believe in respect for the sport and I believe that in owning a site such as this, which has a media slant, requires me to put my personal bias aside and look at the bigger picture. Skirts and Scuffs has given me more than I could have ever hoped for. It’s given me an outlet to show female fans aren’t only passionate, but knowledgeable about racing. It’s given me the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who love racing as much as I do. Most importantly it’s allowed me to assemble one of the most talented groups of women you’ll ever meet. We are all united by racing and the Skirts and Scuffs family is stronger than ever. 

This season Skirts and Scuffs embarks on its fourth full year of covering NASCAR and I celebrate my 20th anniversary. As the weeks progress you’ll see some changes to the site and some additional content - including our first season covering the World of Outlaws. Don’t worry, our NASCAR coverage isn't going anywhere, we are simply improving our methods in an effort to expand with our content base. Adding new contributors and new forms of coverage will allow Skirts and Scuffs to reach a wider group of race fans. We appreciate everything you the reader has done for us and we can’t wait to get 2013 underway and take the female perspective to a whole new level. 

Let the racing begin! 

Katy Lindamood,
Founder, SkirtsandScuffs.com

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