It's been a long time coming for me, but finally I attended my first NASCAR race. I've been watching for 10 years and to be able to see a race really gave me a new found respect for the sport. But not only was I able to see the racing, I was able to get the whole NASCAR experience. My friends and I stayed at the campgrounds and that was really what amazed me the most. So here the 10 things that I learned:
#10- Michigan Cold Nights- It can get very cold in Michigan. Even in Canadian terms, the chilliness was unbearable. The temperature had to be about 8C Saturday night. I had to change my shorts and a t-shirt for pants and a sweater. I don't know if that's normal for Michigan in August but if it is then I feel sorry for them.
#9- Fan Friendly Atmosphere- It's official, NASCAR fans are the nicest people in the universe. Walking through the campgrounds, everyone was just so happy. People would come right up to you and talk. I was giving 'cheers' to people I didn't even know. Unlike others, NASCAR people aren't stuck up. There just happy to be alive and partying.
#8- Size of the track- You never know how long 2 miles is, until you see it. The track looks so small on television, but when your there you realize just how large it is. On television, a second interval seems small, but in reality it's like 200 feet.
#7-Beer Allowed- WTF? I'm so used to going to sporting events and having to pay $10/beer. When I realized I could bring beer into the track, I was shocked. Everybody has coolers. Just amazing. Plus beer is allowed in the campgrounds, so basically if you don't have a beer in your hand, you're an outcast.
#6-Cost effective- Most bang for my buck for a sporting event. Tickets for all three days only set me back $100. You get 15 hours of entertainment for $100 bucks. Unbelievable. Plus the cost of food and beer is so low, that I kept shaking my head. Hot dog and fries for $7 bucks? .Any other sport that will cost you double. Also everything is relatively cheaper in America. I'm so used to having to pay an arm and a leg in Canada that I felt like I was stealing stuff in the U.S.A. 24 beers in Canada costs you $40, in U.S.A. it's $18. What the hell?
#5- The Action- Michigan is not boring. Being able to watch the cars pile into turn 1 at 200MPH was exhilarating. The speed blows the hat right off your head. You can't even tell what car just past you. Also, there is battles going on all around the racetrack. You just don't see them on television. The start and parkers actually put on a good race in the first 20 laps as well. Watching the drivers spread out three wide was exciting as well.
#4- Heat in the grandstands- While the nights are cold, the afternoons are not. The heat that the grandstands attract is unbearable. Within a couple of hours I was burnt. The sun just beats down on ya like a sauna. I didn't think I would need sunscreen but I was wrong. Big mistake. I also know why they call it a 'redneck' sport.
#3-Campgrounds Rated R- HAHA. What a party. Everyone is drunk. John Mellancamp is blaring all throughout the grounds. The girls are flashing all over the place. Just wow. You've never been to a party until you've been to a NASCAR party. There had to been 100000 people camping that weekend. A lot of the people that camp there don't even go to the races. The vendors are hilarious too. I compare them to carnies. Overall ridiculous.
#2-The Cars are Loud- When you walk into the stands and you hear the first car fire up, the sensation you get is incredible. When they come by you in a pack of 43, the grandstands start to vibrate. If you get within the first 10 rows, your going to need earplugs. Luckily I got seats that were at the top. Now I know for sure that these cars are mighty machines. Also, the cars are so beautiful. The paint schemes are just so bright and radiant.
#1- Dale Jr. Fans- This man is the NASCAR hero. The sound of the grandstands when he goes out to qualify is astonishing. His fans are so dedicated. There was this one heavy set women, that would point and wave at him every lap. Every time he made a pass, she would do this weird dance. The campgrounds are full of Jr. flags and his souvenir trailer looks more like a mosh pit. You never realize how big Earnhardt is until you attend the race. Dale Sr. is also loved very much.
Overall, what an incredible experience. If you haven't been to one of these races then your missing out on the sport.
NASCAR Decade- The Winston Cup schedule hits Bristol, and the championship gap is spread out. Jeff Gordon has started to implement that he will be the 2001 Cup Champion. The investigation into Dale Earnhardts death has also been a hot-topic issue. Jeff Green in one of his first starts for RCR sits on the pole. Enjoy the 2001 Sharpie 500.