I’m back from my first Nascar extravaganza. Nascar is such a huge sport but a lot of people, like me, don’t get it. I wanted to get it. I vowed to be opened minded. Yet, before we even entered the gate, this is what I saw:
Not just a coin slot, but a CARPETED coin slot. As you can imagine, I was a little frightened. I took a deep breath and entered the venue.
Since Nascar is so huge, I was expecting a pretty fancy track. Basically, the Richmond International Raceway is a gigantic set of aluminum bleachers surrounding a 3/4th mile sized track. Picture going to a high school football game but without the team.
Like high school, you can cruise the perimeter of the track if you want to stretch your legs or feel the wind in your hair. And just like high school, you can head under the bleachers to smoke or buy beer. But unlike regular sporting events you can actually smoke up in the main seats and bring in your own beer to save money.
I could count on one hand how many people of color I saw. Most of the brown people were simply white folks with killer tans, so with the exception of about a handful of African-American fans it was a “whites only” crowd which seemed odd.
So we found our seats, and settled in. After the paratroopers sailed into the infield the entire crowd bowed their heads in prayer. Again, not something you see or hear at most sporting events. Protection for the drivers was asked of the father, the son AND the holy ghost before the entire crowd said, “Amen” in unison.
The Star Spangled Banner was sung and once the announcer said, “Gentlemen, start your engines”, the real fun began:
Unless you work on an aircraft carrier, you haven’t experience decibel levels of this magnitude. Roadies of rock groups work in a monastery compared to a raceway. Thus, you need ear plugs or headphones. However headphones aren’t merely for ear protection, but can be plugged into radios so that fans can listen in on the conversations between pitt bosses and drivers. Some folks even have video screens allowing them to view any camera angle they choose while listening in on their favorite drivers. This is key to thoroughly enjoying the evening.
There’s definitely a strategy going on, but since you can’t see the entire track or hear an announcer, you need to know what’s going on when the leader pack is on the oppositte side of the track. This is where the radios and video feeds come into play. To fully participate in a Nascar race up close and personal, you need the inside information. Another big part of the strategy is the obvious — Clearly, everyone is waiting for a wreck.
Not a serious one, mind you. No one wants the driver to die, they just want a wreck to cause enough chaos to get the caution flag waived. This allows the pack to tighten up and give those trailing the leader the opportunity to make their move once the race gets going again.
Figuring this all out gave me something to do and helped me to better enjoy the race. Of course, some folks will never be satisfied.
Jarin spent 75% of the evening playing her Nintendo DS game.
Even so, we had a good time.
In my previous post I was worried about staying up so late. So in case you were wondering, you can sleep at a raceway.