Why I’m a NASCAR Fan

Oct 12, 2007 by Jared Smith

My name is Jared and I am a NASCAR junkie. I’ve watched every Nextel Cup race this year (I love my DVR!) and most of the Busch series races. That’s almost 70 races!

The first race I ever really watched was the 2001 Daytona 500. For those not familiar with NASCAR, the Daytona 500 is THE race of the year. It’s like the Super Bowl, only it’s the first race of the season, not the last. Earnhardt crashMen drove their cars at 200 miles per hour sometimes just inches apart. There were some crashes. Some cars had their engines blow up. I remember one of the announcers (Darrell Waltrip) crying because his kid brother won the race. Just before he crossed the finish line, there was a two car wreck behind them. A race car driver died. I didn’t even know he had died until reading it on page three of the sports section in the paper the next day. Things have really change since then. The legacy of Dale Earnhardt – his life, not his death is part of why I’m a fan.

NASCAR races are both fragile and explosive. Something where a little adjustment or mistake could mean so much. A perfect combination of man and machine – both subject to weaknesses, yet together they are stronger than either individually. Few people watch marathons where a man exerts all he has for 4 hours. Strap that man to an 800 horse power stock car and 200,000 people pack the stands.

Here are 10 other reasons why I’m a NASCAR fan:

1) I’m not a good old boy
Most people think NASCAR is for rednecks from the south. They are half right. Seriously though, I don’t think I have too much redneck in me. I’m an edumacated person from Idaho. I didn’t grow up around racing. I don’t own and never have owned a Camaro (nor do I have one one blocks in the back yard). Still, I love NASCAR. Part of why I love it is because I shouldn’t.

2) Patriotism
Each race starts with the National Anthem. Everyone stands and takes off their hats. Most sing along (which makes me happy it’s at the beginning of the race, not after a few thousand gallons of beer have been consumed). Loads of fans bring and wave their flags. The anthem is actually broadcast on national TV for every race (as part of the network contracts with NASCAR).

3) Prayer
Each race also starts with a prayer. This too is heard on TV. No one objects to this.

4) The openness
NASCAR is the most open of all major sports. The drivers mingle with fans. The pits are open to the fans. Drivers have cameras and mics on them almost all the time at a race. You can watch them in their car, watch their pit crews, and listen to their strategies unfold over their radio communications. It’s like poking your head into a huddle of an NFL game.

5) Athleticism doesn’t (always) win the race
Sure you need to be tough to win a race – especially one like Bristol where you go around an oval 500 times, once every 16 seconds, with 42 other cars in 100 degree heat while experiencing up to 4 G’s strapped into a car that goes from 70 to 150 and back again twice each lap. While the young guns of NASCAR have done a lot for the sport, you can’t help but cheer for 50-something Mark Martin or Ken Schrader when they’re up against an 18 year old rookie.

Go Jimmie!6) Loyalty
NASCAR fans LOVE their drivers. NASCAR isn’t really a bandwagon sport. Once a fan picks his driver and/or team, he usually sticks with them. And sitting in a crowd that’s cheering for 43 different drivers is pretty exciting. Despite the variety, the camaraderie of NASCAR fans is unlike any other. Take a BYU and a Utah fan and put them in the same room and feathers may fly. Put a Earnhardt, Jr. fan and a Jeff Gordon fan in a room together and the Junior fan will BBQ the ribs while the Gordon fan supplies the beer.

7) One winner, 42 losers.
There’s no Home and Away team, just one winner and 42 drivers that didn’t win. But even if you don’t win, consistently doing well matters a lot. A driver that finishes second is both upset and elated at the same time.

8) No half time show
There is rarely a dull moment in a NASCAR race. Cautions, while causing the cars to drive slowly, are often the most exciting because of the pit stops. A minor mistake that take one extra second could cost a driver 10 positions and the race. From start to finish, it’s exciting. Unlike many football or basketball games where one team dominates and has won by halftime, you never know who will win a NASCAR race until the checkered flag flies.

9) Sponsorships and numbers
While the back room dealings of NASCAR have almost as big an impact as what happens on the track (it’s no wonder, when tires are $1200 each), NASCAR is more about the fans than any other sport I’ve seen. Fans relate to drivers that are kinda like them. It’s through their sponsors and their numbers that driver’s are recognized. You can tell a lot about a person if they have a #3 or a #8 tattoo. Someone wearing orange at a race will be quite different than someone wearing a shirt with a #24 on it. To be honest, I know that I’ll shop at Lowe’s over Home Depot partly because of who they sponsor.

10) Raw power and sheer speed
When 43 cars can drive past you in just over a second, you know they’re in a hurry. I’ll always remember stepping into the turn one grandstands of my first race and seeing a car coming STRAIGHT AT ME at 180 mph. If you stand on the front stretch when the green flag drops, your lungs will involuntarily try to cough out the noise – it rattles your body that much. The cheers, the hat waving, the air, and the noise are unlike anything else. If you haven’t been to a race, you cannot understand it. All of us dream of driving super fast – these guys get paid to do it. Who wouldn’t want to have a job like that?

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  2. Oct 30, 2007: smithplanet.com » Blog Archive » NASCAR Coach Reveals Winning Strategy: ‘Drive Fast’

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