Monday, September 14, 2009

NASCAR on Speed

Has it really been 2 weeks since I was writing about Frodo? What a segue, then, to NASCAR!

I had the good fortune of being invited to my first (and most certainly last?) NASCAR event ever over the Labor Day weekend a week ago at our Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS). Talk about an experience! It's funny how we can hear about something all our lives and even see the races on TV but it's not the same as being there up close and so many other things in life.

First of all, my friend told me that NASCAR is more popular and makes more money in its sport around the country than all our other sports put together. Can you believe that?

Did you know that Homeland Security sponsors a car? Our tax dollars put to good use! Did you know that all the cars in the races use the same chassis, the same SUNOCO gas, and the same tires? The only difference in the race is the engine (Dodge, Chevy, etc.), the driver...and the pit crew. You can have the best driver in the world but if his/her pit crew is one or two seconds too slow in changing the tires, it can make or break who wins the race. Seriously! I tell you, I really got my education.

Another interesting tidbit: Did you know that those fighter planes that streaked across the sky just as the National Anthem was ending actually started off from Louisiana and were timed precisely for this entrance? How do they do that? Who came up with that mathematical formula!

Well, as happens in real life at most sports' events, people-watching ends up being the bigger event. That's why I always say I'd rather see the game on TV if I really want to see the game! Once a year in the Braves' ballpark or one last time in U of Michigan's Big House is always very nice, of course. Nothing like the ethos of the actual game atmosphere, which you never quite get on TV!

How many people told me, "Make sure you take your earplugs!" I did!

But what maybe surprised me more than anything was how redneck this venue was. How Bible Belt. Not only was there an invocation but Dr. James Dobson from Focus on the Family gave it. Don't get me started but...not gay friendly! And in an estimated attendance of 111,300, I saw only one African American. Okay, I know this is the South, but come on! Give me a break!

Having said that, was I glad I went? You betcha. Friend and I stayed till only about halfway through. It started at 7:30p (AMS's first night race in their 49-year history!), we left at 9:30 and watched it finish at 11:30p. Luckily I was spending the night there so it was a perfect way to do it.

And guess who the winner was! #9 Kasey Kahne whose pit crew just happened to be directly opposite our seats!

So was it the driver, the engine, or the pit crew who won the race...or all 3 together!

And oh, yes...there really was a race! I saw a lot of it with my very own eyes. :) In fact, here's a little photo album with 34 pics.


  1. I think I've been to at least 1 live race like that, 1 formula 1 race live and a handful of other races in between all of that..

    Great observations. Love the pit crew photo the most... But sheesh that is a scary statistic. For me, it makes me want to run back to Europe!

  2. So you finished watching it on TV??

    You couldn't PAY me, Boots, and confirming that it is a redneck venue, I'm more convinced than ever not to go. :) But I know you. I know your tolerance and your curiosity. I know you'll do anything, almost anything, once. So, good for you!

    It would be interesting to compare things with Todd's "Formula" races with no car roofs, and I imagine a different crowd. Maybe still white, but upper crust.

    How interesting that the one car cultural thing I can think of in a non-white segment is the low rider phenom, mostly among Latinos - and some African Americans? And I think the opposite of racing is what they have in mind. :)

    How's that for something to ponder in this great land of ours? Thank you for that.

  3. Oooh, yes, I can just imagine how loud it must have been. Not my thing at all. And James Dobson? Grrr. But it's probably something that should be experienced once if only for the people watching aspect. We can learn so much from that...

    P.S. Any bites on the house???

  4. I've never been to a NASCAR race but I've been to plenty of other noisy car events, both Formula 1 and local races. Well, you have to when you have 2 boys who grew up with a car-loving dad, and there was always a couple of cars in pieces in the garage and driveway. And then the boys got themselves a Rally car and we went off on cross-country rallies every weekend, and of course don't forget the ice races in January when they dressed me up in a helmet and put me in the back of the car for ballast.... hmmmm!
    I was in Charlotts SC on a NASCAR weekend a couple of years ago, didn't go to the race but oh boy it was an interesting weekend for people watching.

  5. ET: It was something I'm glad I experienced, for sure, but it did make me wonder about the sport and who it attracts!

    Ruth: Well, I finished the very last minutes on TV while working on my SC blogroll. HA! It's an experience I'm glad I had...try anything once, yes. Maybe it IS a lot different from Todd's crowd. I'm guessing so. It's definitely another world!

    Christina: It takes all kinds to make the world go 'round, as we know. With the gas shortage and all the "green" concerns these days, I think it would be real easy to boycott this sport altogether. :( Sigh. No bites on the house yet...but we are working on solutions for getting me out, to move on with my life! More to come on that.

    Sham: I guess when you have it in the family there's not much you can do about it except go along with it! It's a wonder it hasn't been banned as a sport with all the gas shortages! But as the biggest sport in the USA, maybe the powerful rule!

  6. Seeing it through your eyes, makes even NASCAR fun - great pics; you have an eye for details :-)

    Happy Weekend!

  7. Rednecks need love, too ;-)

    I'll grant you NASCAR bores me to tears, but so does opera.
    The biggest difference between a NASCAR race and a night at the opera, in my opinion, is that the people at the race track are more approachable and fun.

    Yes, there are attitudes and prejudices and the fans are so easy to mock and ridicule, but if the activity is different, the motivation often is the same.

    While you and Nicholas go reading in the woods, other grandchildren and grandparents go sit in the NASCAR stands - or, just as often, in the stands at the quarter mile track at the fairgrounds. My daddy and I used to go to the stock car races in Iowa when I was growing up. Don't guess it really hurt me none ;-)

  8. Renny: Thank you, kind sir!

    SA: We all need love, Linda, yes! ALL OF US! Even the ones who are prejudiced. Even the ones who are prejudiced against those who are prejudiced! And on and on it goes.

    I have lived now 22 years in the South (having been raised in the Midwest) and have seen some things change for the better over time. When we moved to our Atlanta suburb 11 years ago, there were no Blacks. Now there are some, though still not many (more Hispanics!). The value for our money was why we moved here. Would we have done it now? I don't know.

    I just watched Fried Green Tomatoes again and was moved by a community that crossed all the barrier lines at a time when it was unheard of. I want to be an instrument of love in the world like that...not an instrument of hate and prejudice. That's why I'm really glad I went to this NASCAR race. We have to see the world in which others live in order to effect change in it...for both them and ourselves. It is indeed a two-way street. Truth and insight come even within the deepest prejudices!

  9. i am ROTFLOL!!! betcha there weren't many Asians in attendance, either.

    Jimmy really enjoys watching cars race. I don't mind it. And I have to admit that I crack up with the one-sided-ness of it all. The rebel in me kinda likes going to these events because no one expects an Asian girl at them. Because even in California, these events clearly draw a certain crowd.