Monday, April 15, 2013

Why I Love NASCAR: Two Degrees of Separation or It All Comes Down to Pocono by Chief 187™

Puddles formed during a rain delay at Pocono Raceway in August 2012.
Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR

I’m not sure if this stuff happens to you, but I find it happens to me quite often in recent years. I suppose I am hyper-aware of NASCAR fans as I am constantly scoping them out, placing feelers and asking pointed questions. “Seek and you shall find” rings true for me seemingly everywhere I go in my non-NASCAR-heavy neighborhood.

The second week of Little League practice was no warmer than the first. I sat huddled against the elements, watching my son play ball and my daughter flounce around the empty areas keeping herself happy and busy. I noticed my seatmate, a woman who was also bundled up and seated in her folding chair.

Being the friendly sort I struck up a conversation. She was very pleasant and likable and our dialogue bounced from topic to topic. Very quickly the topic became NASCAR.

She and her husband, it turns out, attend one of the two NASCAR Sprint Cup races that comes to Pocono every year. This led me to tell her that I write about and host several radio programs that cover NASCAR.

I asked who this woman, Donna's, favorite driver was and she floored me with her answer. “Jeff Gordon. No, not Jeff Gordon, I can’t STAND Jeff Gordon. Um… Mark Mart… no, not Mark Martin. Honey! (To her husband coaching on the diamond) Who do I like in NASCAR? Oh, oh yeah, Jimmie Johnson. I like Jimmie.”

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

“Really?” I asked, “Is it because he’s a winner?”

“No!” Donna said, “It’s because he’s so damn HOT!”

Well, it turns out Donna is not into the actual meat and potatoes of the sport, but she enjoys attending one live race a year at Pocono. Her husband watches Cup racing every weekend and they attend Daytona 500 parties as well. That’s okay, NASCAR fans are made up of all kinds of people and I don’t judge, I’m just always happy they exist and I get the opportunity to meet them.

I called my husband over to meet Donna. They exchanged pleasantries until I interrupted to tell him that Donna and her husband were big NASCAR fans. I volunteered that the couple attends Pocono once a summer for a Cup race.

My husband started working for the Operations department at Pocono International Raceway, Inc. last year for Cup events and I was fortunate enough to cover the second race as media. We’re always tickled to meet fans who attend Pocono, a track we consider our “home track”.

Anxious to share more of her experiences last year, Donna offered a picture on her phone of the pick-up truck with handmade built-up framework her husband constructed to watch the race from the infield at Pocono. Donna let us know their platform was actually “too high and we were busted!” Donna explained that with a little effort the platform was lowered to the allowable height and they were able to use it to view the races last year.

My husband then shocked me when he said, “Do you know Ralph R___? He and his family go to Pocono every year, too.”

Donna screamed, “YES! Oh my G-d! Ralph was my husband’s best friend last year! They bonded! It was amazing! They’d never met before but my husband hit it off with Ralph immediately and completely!”

Now, this may not seem weird to you, dear readers, but this stuff is completely uncanny to me. My husband works with Ralph. We’d never met Donna or her family before this day in the story. We live in an entirely different town than Ralph. Donna and her husband nor their family or friends knew nor socialized with Ralph before their chance meeting at Pocono Raceway.

Donna told me at the end of the practice after we discussed myriad other topics that she never talks to other parents. Normally she sits quietly, watches practices and unwinds from her long day on the job.

Sometimes life just unfurls that way. And the more I traverse this world the more I realize how inter-connected we all are. This scenario clearly pointed out to me the “two degrees of separation” that exists and how, for me, it usually comes down to my connection to Pocono Raceway.

I’m glad I reached out to Donna. She’s become my fast friend and pointed out to me once again the many reasons 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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