If you are going to try to say NASCAR isn't a sport, you clearly don't get the stamina it takes to drive in circles at high speeds for over three hours. (That was a funny.) Don't call it toilet bowl racing either ... or fine, do call it that. If you hate it, that just makes more of it to love for me. I am an uber-fan, tuned in to the 88, and I have some love for Smoke. My dream when I retire someday is to pack up the RV and follow the NASCAR circuit (must buy RV first). I get goosebumps every time the green flag waves.
I just returned from the Dover race (where Dale Earnhardt Jr. sadly had some tough luck for most of the day -- not surprisingly, though, this track isn't his strong suit). And it made me think about all the reasons that NASCAR is the best sport of 'em all -- the only sport that truly caters to the fans.
NASCAR might be the only sporting event where they allow you to bring coolers into the stands with your own food and drinks. Tickets can be pricey, and so can all you nibble and sip on during the race. Sure, you're still going to blow some money on that JR Nation sweatshirt ($50!!!), but you will wear it proudly while freezing your butt off in the stands and sipping on a cold one from your cooler, properly nestled in the racetrack koozie you had to have. But it's more than that, too.
NASCAR really trusts their fans and they are always thankful to them. I was lucky enough to have pit passes, which gave me access to the garages and pits before the race when all the teams and drivers are walking around and working on making their cars the fastest. I was next to tires, pistons, and saw David Ragan, Michael Waltrip, and Casey Mears hanging out, while I just wandered around breathing in the sweet smell of race day and hoping Dale would appear. It's the equivalent of hanging around the football locker room before the big game. How great is that?!
The sport also keeps fans included -- by letting them vote their favorite driver in to the All-Star race and giving that driver a chance to race with the best and win a million bucks. Fans also really get to know a lot about their favorite driver. At the track on race day, you can get a scanner that allows you to tune in to the driver's in-car audio -- nothing is censored. You can do this if you have a Sprint phone at home, too. Dale Jr. has a potty mouth by the way. And the most excited he sounded all day during that Dover race was when he found out the Redskins won.
Plus, when you learn about the history -- the legacies -- it sucks you in. You want to know more about the Allison brothers, the Earnhardts, the Pettys, the Hendrick family -- all the amazing tales of heartbreak, struggles, and triumphs. Makes you root for more than just the guy in the firesuit on raceday. Yes, it's the best sport of them all.
What did I miss, NASCAR fans?
Images via Michele Zipp, Danielle McClure