My Second Family, and The Reason I Love Left Turns
I would like to start this post out by giving a shout out to a person that probably won’t even see it. Yesterday, I got up early, got all of my housework and other boring activities done in the morning, and then loaded up in my truck and drove an hour and a half north to visit my best friend/sister Mary at Huntington University. The visit was only my third of the year, but let me tell you, it was a blast. I consider the girls of her hall to be a family, and I’ve loved it every time I’ve gone to visit them. I always tease them that I would transfer there if I could afford it, and honestly I’m not sure how much I’m kidding when I say it. So, if any of you are reading this, thank you so much for being so inviting, and I hope you all have an amazing summer! I’ll see you all again next school year.
Now, I wasn’t sure which topic to blog about. There are so many things I love to talk about, but I just couldn’t narrow it down. So, doing what any person would do, I asked some of the people closest to me for ideas. Perhaps the most sarcastic, least helpful response I got was from my girlfriend, who just sent me a text that said, and I quote: “NASCAR! #merica.” It was a goofy response, but after I got done smirking and shaking my head in disbelief, I started to think about it, and got an idea. Everyone knows I love NASCAR, but not many people know how it started, or why I can watch it. I should explain why I love it so much! So that’s what this post is going to cover.
Warning: It could be a long one. Read on at your own risk.
I watch the NASCAR coverage on tv every weekend. I watch practice, qualifying, and the race for every series on tv. I read every article published on NASCAR.com. I even have a second twitter account that I use only for NASCAR tweets, so I don’t bother my friends with them too much. My friends always come up to me when I’m watching a race, or reading an article, and ask me how I can do it. “How do you watch them turn left all day? I can’t handle 20 laps!” they say. The answer is actually really simple.
I just grew up with it.
The only people I know of that might love NASCAR more than me are my parents. They started watching the races back in the 80’s, because with their cable package at the time there wasn’t much else to watch on Sundays in the summer. Dad loved it after a few races, but mom took about 5 years for it to grow on her. She thought it was boring at first, but when she realized Dad wasn’t going to quit watching it and actually watched the races and paid attention, it grew on her, too.
So, by the time I came around in May of ’93, my parents had already been watching NASCAR for a solid decade. I grew up playing on the bed while the race was on 10 feet behind me. I learned my numbers from NASCAR, and could say words like “Earnhardt” and “Goodinch” (I meant to say Goodwrench, Earnhardt’s sponsor, but I struggled being 2 and all) by the time I was old enough to walk. I could be entertained with the races on TV at a young age, and while other kids my age were collecting hot wheels or action figures, I was collecting 1/64th scale NASCAR die-casts and making full 43 car races on the dining room table. But even then I wasn’t completely sold on NASCAR. I went through a little phase where it looked like I might grow out of it.
But then my parents took me to the Brickyard.
In 1997, my parents decided that I was old enough to go to the track. They had been going to the Brickyard 400 every year since the inaugural year. They saw Jeff Gordon win the first race, cheered on loudly as Dale Earnhardt won the second (something I’ll always be jealous of them for). With me turning 4, in ’97, they decided that I was old enough to go to the track for qualifying day. So on a Saturday in early August, they loaded my cousin (who had stayed the night before) and myself up with them, we went and picked up my grandfather, and we all went to Indianapolis. I can remember not being able to sleep the night before, and being too excited to sit still on the ride there. We got breakfast at McDonald’s, and I had to make myself eat. I didn’t think we were ever going to get to the track, but then it finally happened.
We were driving down some street I didn’t know. We passed a little creek on a bridge, and then I remember my dad telling me to look left, so I did.
And there it was.
I looked up, and I could see Indianapolis Motor Speedway in all of its glory. I could see the sun shining over the grandstands, the flags that line the entire grandstand blowing elegantly in the wind. It was beautiful. I remember getting chills down my spine as I basked in the glory of the track, a feeling that I still get to this day every time I see it again.
I would spend the entire day in awe, staring at my favorite track in the world. I got to watch all of my favorite drivers practice and qualify, including my hero, Dale Earnhardt. Later in the day, the old IROC series had its final race of the year, with Earnhardt winning the championship for the series. I went with my grandfather to find some track fries, a tradition we still do yearly to this day. I remember during qualifying, I would tell my grandfather the name, sponsor, number, and predicted qualifying spot for every driver that pulled out. It was just a perfect day for me.
I’ve been in love with NASCAR ever since. Whenever my friends tell me that they don’t mind NASCAR, but don’t quite understand it, I ask them if they’ve ever seen them live. You really can’t fully appreciate NASCAR until you’ve seen 43 cars go roaring past you at the track, until you feel the stands shake from their power and smell the gasoline in the air. I’ve been back to the Brickyard every year since that first trip, and been to the race every year since 1999 thanks to my amazing parents. While most people look forward to Christmas, their birthday, or some other holiday, I look forward to Brickyard weekend. By the way, it’s 70 days until the first race I’m going to that week right now, if anyone’s curious.
That’s why I love NASCAR so much. I just grew into it. My parents brought me into it the right way. They never made me like it, they just let me watch it on tv, and then took me to the track where I could really appreciate it. I can’t imagine that I’ll ever stop watching it. It’s just a part of my life.
It’s actually been one of the only constants I’ve had throughout my life. I’ve grown as a person, started going to school. I’ve been through times of serious depression, anger, happiness, and craziness. I’ve been through a 2 & ½ year relationship, and started a 2nd one recently. I’ve changed so very much over the years that it’s hard to believe, but NASCAR has always been there. I remember Nickelodeon used to have those “So and so is my antidrug” commercials. Well, NASCAR was (and still is) mine.
There’s still much more for me to talk about with NASCAR, but for the sake of anyone reading this’ sanity I’ll save that for another post. Simply put, NASCAR is a part of my life. I wouldn’t be who I am without it. I still get excited every race, just as much as I did when I was little. I still cry when I watch old Earnhardt highlights, and get so excited that I jump around when Dale Jr. or Brad Keselowski has a chance to win a race (Or championship!). I’ll never, EVER miss a Daytona 500 or Brickyard 400.
I’ve always been a NASCAR fan, and that’ll never change.