Well, I decided to go and experience the Southern Bred ritual that is NASCAR.
Had I attended a Nascar race after first coming over from San Diego...I most undoubtedly would have endured a major case of culture shock.
American trucks everywhere, everyone from grandma to 2 year olds wearing something that has a number, people tailgaiting. American flags, confederate flags. I guess if you have never been to a race, and you imagine what it would be like, then yeah, that is exactly what its like.
First thing I noticed, beside all the above....the race started at 8PM and the place was packed at noon. I mean people were tailgaiting, going to the entertainment area which was nothing but corporate debauchery (giveaways, "experieinces" to include simulators, stock car revving, merchandising up the butt, etc.)
Other thing I noticed, wasn't just rednecks there...there were families, businessmen, college kids, you name it.
As for the race, wow!!!! It was nothing like watching on TV, the absolute speed of these cars is hard to comprehend unless you are standing at the exit of a bank on the railing and watching the cars whiz past you and a rush of wind hit you like a brick wall as the lead lap comes barrelling by.
Crashes are amazing as the sound of cars thudding against the barrier and the smell of burnt rubber is so thickening.
But I guess the most impressive thing, it is LOUD. I mean, no wonder everyone is wearing ear plugs and hearing protection. Funny to watch 3 years olds walking around with hearing protection. Cute.
My row, seemed to be the family row. At the bottom, there was like 5 or 6 kids ages ranging from 6 to 10 all watching the race, boys and girls.
Now...to answer the critics, its one of those things, you can't knock it if you don't watch it. Before I was a "closet fan" but no I'm not afraid to say Tony Stewart is my mine.
My wife said, how could you watch it, its just a bunch of cars going round and round...and then I thought, you know, that is the SAME exact thing she said about me watching baseball...its just a bunch of people throwing balls and hitting, its so boring. I started to explain that there is amazing strategy going on, there are LOTS of things going on that we just don't know. And if we really want to get in tune, we can always bring a radio headphone and tune in to follow along the game.
Same thing can be said with watching a race. On the outside, a bunch of cars going round and round but there is a tremendous amount of strategy. And now with in car audio and actual feedback from pit crew managers, you can see strategy being taken pre, mid, and near end race that have actual effects on the outcome. And of course, at the race, just looking at the leaderboard, not much to surmise from the race, but NASCAR fans know better, nearly EVERYBODY had either a track scanner or a radio headphone set. So not only do NASCAR fans go to watch, they want to know what is going on.
All in all, I was sold and needless to say, I will be taking my son to the September Rock N Roll 400 in Richmond.
If I were you, I'd catch a NASCAR race when they roll into Cali, if anything, its an excuse to get drunk and act stupid.
Now...Richmond is unique becaues its one if not the only (well there is Bristol) that runs under the lights. And NASCAR under the lights is truly a sight to see. I think other tracks are starting to do that and you'll start to see NASCAR trying to compete with PRIMETIME sports air.
Anyways, that was just a BUSCH series race I saw, the actual NEXTEL cup race which is today at night, is the real draw...and to think that yesterday was nuts...one of the vendors told me that for NEXTEL races, take todays crowd and atmostphere, and triple it, thats what you'll get tomorrow.
A funny story, kind of like when you're team is losing badly in the 7th and the fans start streaming out, when you're "driver" or "car" is taken out of the race, you start seeing the die hards of that team leaving for the exits as well...pretty funny.