The Short Story?

I was talking to a race fan in the parking lot at Talladega last week. We were comparing our experiences as race fans through the years. Not many similarities. Or were there? This guy had never been to Talladega though he regularly goes to Atlanta and Charlotte. I have been going to Talladega since 1974. He likes dirt track racing, I don't. But I could tell he was a real race fan. The persona came shining through.

You see, I went to the track on the Saturday before the Winston 500 with three of my best friends. Since I was the fool who ordered all the tickets and we had four no shows, I opted to skip the ARCA race and go up to the Hall of Fame to get rid of the extra seats. Having accomplished that mission, I returned to the gate in front of the O.V. Hill grandstand about the time the ARCA race got over expecting the gates to be wide open and I would be able to waltz in, find my friends at the pre-arranged place and catch the final Winston Cup practice session. To my surprise, the gates were not open and would not be since the IROC race had not been run yet. The IROC would be run when Winston Cup practice was over and believe me, the IROC race is not worth $35 bucks to see.

The IROC race is always run first so why so late this year. It seems that the Indy car participants were off qualifying for their own race somewhere else and the IROC was held up just for them. Damn Indy car guys. Since when do Indy car guys dictate things to NASCAR fans. But then again, a lot of the people in the stands really wanted to see the Indy car guys. Where did all these people come from anyway? Neil Bonnett once told me he tested an Indy car but stopped short of racing one because he just couldn't bring himself to run something where your foot is the front bumper. I wish Neil was here to help me put things in perspective.

Well, back to the guy in the parking lot. My friends had the keys to our car and all the cold beverages were in a cooler in the trunk. But among true race fans, lack of a cold beverage is never a problem. A cold one was offered and I certainly accepted. Immediately we were old friends. By the time my buddies got back, I was as comfortable talking to the stranger in the parking lot as I was to one of them. I had also reinforced my belief that real race fans will always be around, regardless of the big money and all the other changes that have come to our sport in recent years.

The Definition

This short story, I think spells out where I am in the world of NASCAR. A real race fan struggling with change. I curse the new generation race fan at times, yet I own a computer and am on the internet like so many of them. I am pained by the impending loss of racing at the roots in places like North Wilksboro, yet I know there would not be any NASCAR -On-Line or weekly tv coverage of each race if the sport was not moving ahead for the millions of new fans. Those new fans have driven this sport to new heights that my aforementioned buddies and I were only talking about 15 of more years ago.

The Opportunity

For several years now, I have wanted to sit down and put my thoughts together about NASCAR and what it has meant to me for the last 20+ years. I wasn't there in the beginning but I have seen my fair share of the sport, both on and off the track. Like any race team needs a sponsor, I needed one to provide a forum for my perspectives. Thanks to Magnolia and Lone Star Internet I now have the chance. They have given me the opportunity to, sort of write a book about my NASCAR and other racing related experiences. Given my writing skills, it will more likely be an unstructured collection of short stories like the one above. So bare with me.

The Goal

I hope to contribute my perspectives on a regular basis. It will help me sort out my struggle with changes in the sport and I hope some of my stories will be entertaining to all NASCAR fans, old and new. I just thought of my next perspective. What is a real race fan? There is an old saying that if you have to ask, you wouldn't understand. Well, I could say that and let it go but I am supposed to be writing about my perspectives here so an explanation is in order. Let me work on that one a bit.

See y'all down the road.