Saturday, August 15, 2009

Left turns, ear plugs and people watching

There's nothing quite like life around a race track.
It's hot. It's noisy. And most of all, it's loud. Painfully loud.
But on race day, it's passionately energetic.
Fans wearing baseball caps with numbers embroidered on them snake through large crowds, hoping to get a closer look at NASCAR's main event.
For those willing to pay, pit passes allow fanatics to maneuver through the garage area – a virtual backstage pass to the sport's biggest names. Fans carry digital cameras, snapping photos of cars and their drivers, hoping to get a glance at their favorite NASCAR characters.
Jeff Gordon. Jimmie Johnson. Dale, Jr.
In racing circles, drivers are known either by their first name or their numbers. In NASCAR parlance, drivers are identified by the number painted on the side of their cars.
"The 24 car just got loose on Turn 4," race announcers report.
And without any sort of master roster, fans know where to look and who's in trouble.
On steamy summer days, fans pack into seating that overlooks the main stage. They whoop and holler, cheering on their favorites.
At track level, the most passionate of fans walk around with earbuds blaring radio traffic into their ears, keeping track of communications between driver and their crew chief.
The reporters who cover NASCAR range in knowledge from veteran know-it-alls who have worked in each of the circuit's media rooms to newbies just trying to figure the sport out.
But spend time walking around the pits and around the garage area and one thing becomes abundantly clear: People who love NASCAR are among the most passionate sports fans that exist.
On some level, they connect with their heroes – whether it be by wearing the same number they do, drink the same beer they do or drive the same make of car they do. They are self-admitted rednecks, unashamed of their love for auto racing.
And there's nothing wrong with a little passion for something that gets your engine revved up.

1 comment:

  1. Great writing! You really captured the spirit of the NASCAR community.