What is it that connects a fan to their favorite driver? Is it because of who they are, how they drive, their talent level, who their best friends are, the team (or sponsor) they drive for, or because of an amazing experience meeting them? I have experienced most of those in picking out my drivers and a lot of them are wrapped up in why I like Brian Vickers. With his health problems this week, I?ve been examining why it is I am a fan of his as well as experiencing how much what happens to our drivers impacts us as much as it does them. Even though there is no way a driver can really know each person who is a fan of his, it doesn?t stop us from cheering him on and wanting to know all that he is up to.
The fan/driver ?relationship? is a unique one. We know who they hang out with, what music they like to listen to, what they like to eat, where their favorite vacation place is, and even who ticks them off. Technology (in the form of Twitter, Facebook, etc) has made knowing all of those things much more accessible. The level they can share their lives with whoever is interested is on a much more personal level than it has ever been?and that is a huge catalyst in drawing in new fans. Certainly who they are is the biggest reason we like our favorites and in some cases we like them because we see the same characteristics in them as we see in ourselves. Even if they have to miss a race, start & park, or get switched from ride to ride every year, we would follow them to the end of the Earth.
I have experienced a few cases where meeting somebody translates almost immediately into my naming them as one of my favorite drivers. I like to call it the ?instant fan syndrome? and the instructions are ?just add meeting?. That?s what it seems like sometimes?you have a very favorable interaction with a driver, like I did with Casey Mears, Trevor Bayne, Aric Almirola or Regan Smith, and all of a sudden you can?t learn enough about them, devouring every bit of information you can get your hands on. Whether it is simply getting an autograph or engaging in a conversation, that one moment can so unexpectedly throw them into the spotlight.
Where you really find out what they mean to you is when something difficult happens or they go through a rough stretch in their career. Whether that is watching them get carted from team to team or go a long time without winning, it tests the strength of that bond and makes it stronger on the other side.
Ever since I first heard about him, Brian Vickers has impressed me. The way he handles his interviews and his cars caught my attention?and Ricky Hendrick?s. Watching the two of them beat the top Busch drivers in 2003 made me a huge fan of both of them and had me looking forward to the future. Unfortunately that fell apart when Ricky was taken away the next year. Through the last month of 2004, as I struggled with the loss of Ricky and watched Brian handle (once more) losing his best friend, something happened, and I knew at the beginning of 2005 that he was my new top favorite driver, no matter what. Now, facing this uncertainty in his career, that resolve is becoming even stronger. I admire his straightforwardness, humility and that he loves reading (and lists the Lord of the Rings as some of his favorite books).
Now it?s your turn. Who is your favorite driver and why is he (or she) your favorite?
Opinions expressed in blogs are those of the individual bloggers and do not necessarily represent the views of racing-reference.info.