Note: As Eric and I prepare to cover a NASCAR Cup Series race for the first time ever, I wanted to share what NASCAR and Michigan International Speedway mean to me. This post was originally penned in 2010 but its meaning remains the same. A lot has changed in my life since I wrote this post all those years ago. The one thing that remains the same, racing is in my blood. Happy MIS week!
“It’s nothing but a bunch of cars running around in circles.”
“I drive a car every day, I could do that.”
“They aren’t athletes.”
Those are the quotes that I hear the most when I talk about racing. That all may be true, but I disagree.
Racing is more than just a Sunday drive. For me, it’s a passion, and obsession.
On Sunday, I took my annual pilgrimage to the Michigan International Speedway, and guess what? I had a blast.
Watching 43 drivers race at 200 mph is almost as much of a thrill for me as it is for them.
Someone can never get the full experience of NASCAR racing until they see it in person.
Baseball fans will tell you there is nothing like the sights, sounds and smells of being at the ball field. The same applies for me when I think about racing.
It all starts when I wake up at 4 a.m. to get ready to meet my family and friends. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning as I fill my cooler with sandwiches and bottles of frozen water. After a couple of hours of travel we make the final turn. There is no better sight than making that turn toward the track. There are thousands of campers flying flags of their favorite drivers, and heroes. They fill the Irish Hills of Brooklyn, surrounding the 2-mile oval.
Then there are the smells. The campfire, the charcoal of tailgaters grilling hot dogs at 8 a.m. Even the sunscreen, as I apply it to my shoulders that are sure to burn regardless of how much I cake on, has a different aroma on race day. And the best of all is the smell of the fuel and burning rubber as the cars take to the track. I am home.
As the cars scream down the front straightaway there is definitely a strain on my ears, but I don’t care. I am focusing on where Tony Stewart is, and how his team will strategize to get him to the front of the pack.
The great thing about MIS is the side-by-side dueling that drivers do all over the track. Every lap there is a pass. One driver will shoot to the top of the track inches from the wall, another will dive to the bottom, and as you think one will pass the other, the door slams and they take their battle to the next turn.
As the race comes to a close, and the grandstands are covered in smoke from the winner’s burnout, we rush back to the car for a race of our own, trying to beat everyone else who wants to get home.
And as I ride home, my head continues to spin about all that I have taken in that day. The excitement, the drama, and the fun with friends and family, it all leads to a giant grin on my face.
As my day comes to an end and I rest my head, I know that I lived my life to the fullest, being around the things I love.
Some people will never agree, or feel the same way I do about racing but that’s OK. I’m sure we all have something we enjoy just as much.