Sunday, October 6, 2013

A newbie goes to a National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) event

This weekend I went to my first NASCAR event at the Kansas Speedway, and have to confess that I didn't know anything about the sport. In a Forbes article Steve Odland says "If you haven’t experienced a NASCAR race, you owe it to yourself to see one.  Once you do, you’ll be hooked."

My friend Jan and I spent pretty much all day at the Kansas Speedway watching the KS Lottery 300. On the way over they played the Talladega Nights movie (Will Farrell) on the shuttle, which was hilarious. We were in a nice suite and also went down to the infield for the fan experience behind pit row. It was so loud! From time to time I needed my noise reduction earmuffs. The race started before 3pm and was 200 laps! I thought I'd never get through them, but I was wrong. It was really cool.

We saw a lot of dramatic wipeouts (sometimes people would swipe the walls or clip each other) and some drama between Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski towards the end of the race when there were only a few laps left - &

It is amazing to see the speeds these guys and gals are driving with the precision, technique, and concentration that is required to be able to do that for HOURS! Practice laps were 177-184 mph. It's an adrenaline rush seeing that speed. Can you imagine driving that fast? And on a track with the curves?

The people watching was fascinating...I saw a lot of camouflage, college, and NASCAR clothing. Although I'm not into hunting, I am slight obsessed with camo (I have camo workout headbands, a Snuggie blanket, pants, and now a really cute Kansas Speedway hat with pink embroidery on it). There were a lot of flags in the parking lot - the American flag and college and NASCAR flags. NASCAR fans are some of the most loyal fans in the world, and no wonder they are interested. It's a really high-powered sport.

So after an exciting day at the track, I'm fascinated about learning more. Starting with going back to the beginning and reading about the history..."NASCAR was founded by William France, Sr., on February 21, 1948 with the help of several other drivers of the time. The points system was written on a bar room napkin."

And trying to learn more about the industry and the crazy amounts of money it generates... The average team is worth $143 million generating $100 in revenues? Wow. The industry attracts $3 billion in sponsorship money...twice the amount of the NFL. Wow. That is hardcore.

It's fascinating to think about the level of precision, technology, and skill that are also required by their support teams. It is amazing to see how fast the pit crews service the vehicles during pit stops. Not only do they have to do it fast, they have to do it for safety and optimum performance. There are some cars that we saw make pit stop after pit stop because something wasn't right! It's also interesting how they have to time the pit stops during yellow flag caution laps when the safety crews are cleaning up debris from the track. That way they can catch up again. There is so much more to it than meets the eye...drafting, geometry, design, fueling, etc. Many variables go into optimum performance.

When they have yellow flag caution laps, all of the lead work that the top drivers did to get there has to be done all over again as they get queued up again. It's interesting to see all the jockeying and maneuvering. There is a lot more to it than meets the eye, like driving and racing etiquette (some concepts here One gal in our group mentioned that the drivers had surrounded Kyle Busch after the crash to control and "punish" him after the Keselowski wreck because he was in 2nd/3rd overall at the time, and I hadn't noticed that.

I didn't know that most NASCAR teams are based in North Carolina and many of the drivers live there. The HQ is in Daytona. We got a program at the race and there are so many drivers...I don't have them all memorized yet ;)

I have friends and family that are NASCAR fans, and am happy to learn more about it. I think it's important to embrace new experiences and learn about different things!