Normally a Sunday afternoon race, the NASCAR season opener was severely punished by Mother Nature and forced to postpone the start for about 30 hours. Torrential rains drenched the cars, drivers, crew, and fans. There was so much rain, that it looked like the folks in Florida might get the call to build another ark. When they made the announcement that the race would be postponed until noon Monday, about 50,000 fans came down with the Daytona flu and called in sick. Those are the fans with tickets; another 100,000 people began to feel really poorly around 11:00, and at 11:30, went home early, only to find out the race was postponed again to Monday night. No, I was not one of those. I will call in sick tomorrow, if my sneezing, coughing, and stuffy head doesn’t get better. That darned Daytona flu is really contagious.
How, you must wonder, can anyone stand to watch 43 cars turning left again and again, over and over, hour after hour? Well, the way I look at it, NASCAR is a lot like a soap opera for people who don’t like soap operas. Once you get to know the actors (drivers) and their histories, you kind of learn the story line. Who the good guys are, who the bad guys are, drivers who you can run with, and drivers who act like my 12-year-old daughter, only not as emotionally mature. Unlike soap operas, though, some of the drivers and teams have integrity and character. Like the Woods Brothers team, who won last year with a young driver, Trevor Bayne, in only his 2nd NASCAR race. The Woods Brothers have been fielding teams for 30 years, and are a solid family, well respected. Some drivers have no integrity at all, and you can read my thoughts about him here.
There’s the technical side that appeals- engines, restrictor plates, cant and camber of the tires, wedges in the springs, clean air, drafting. Then there are the tracks where the raced are run- historic Daytona, which started on the beach; Talladega (“don’t put that off on me, Ricky bobby…”) in Alabama; Bristol, which is a lot like someone built a really big concrete bowl and decided to run a car race inside it; Martinsville; Charlotte Motor Speedway; and the historic “Brickyard”, the Indianapolis Racetrack. There are others, but they don’t carry the history of these, well, historic tracks. Each track has a different length; different banking in the turns, and require different styles of racing.
There’s the smell; fuel and rubber and burning exhausts. The noise generated from a single car is an unbelievably deafening 130 dB; imagine 43 cars all running at that noise level? That’s almost as loud as my daughter’s stereo with LeCrae rockin’ the house. And the speed! Cars just inches from each other, running at 198 miles an hour is exhilarating! Three wide in turn four! Caution on the backstretch! Two tires? Four tires? A splash and go!
Then there is the racing family history- Burton; Labonte; Earnhardt; Jarrett; and the King of all NASCAR… Petty. Families that last; that stay and work together. Win together…
Me, I don’t know much about racing. I just like it. Not as much as this pastor, though.
I hope you get a chance to be friends with someone who likes racing, especially NASCAR racing. Stay with it a while, and you’ll be captivated by events like this one that may end the race tonight… Juan Pablo Mantoya’s car broke under caution, and slammed into a safety truck carrying 200 gallons of jet fuel to power the helicopter engine that blows debris from the track.
More drama than a daytime soap, more fun than a made-for-tv reality show, more suspense than just watching 43 drivers going fast while turning left. I love it! Boogity, boogity, boogity boys- let’s go racing!
Boy, I sure don’t feel good….
Following a two-hour delay, Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 more than 6 hours after the green flag dropped to start the race. Following multiple crashes, Kenseth won on a Green-White-Checkered finish. What is that, you may ask? That, my friends, is one reason to watch the race all the way to the finish.