Tuesday, October 05, 2010

NASCAR weekend

A friend of ours gave us tickets to the Nationwide series race in Kansas City on Saturday. We jumped at the opportunity to go, and my parents came in town to take care of Elias-- which went extremely well. My wife chronicled most of the event on her blog.

NASCAR is the guilt-free sport.

There are no worries about wins being stripped away because someone lied about their high school transcript, or lied about taking the SAT. No coaches who get penalized for sending too many text messages or funneling cash to prospective recruits. It's not odd to see a 20 year old professional, and no one cares that he skipped college-- it's seen as a career choice like any other. You also don't have players celebrating after first downs as if they'd won the Super Bowl, no scantily clad women doing dance routines, and very few competitors have criminal histories.

NASCAR also gives you access to the competitors in a way other sports don't, you can be right there with them in the days before the race getting autographs and striking up conversations.

We spent $15 for FanWalk passes, which gave us access to the "infield" where the garages and pit areas are. We got to see Sprint Cup practice on Saturday. Here is Chad Knaus, the greatest crew chief in the world, who we were about 30 feet away from.
The only other racing event I have to compare this weekend to is the racing at the Lucas Oil speedway (dirt track) in Wheatland, MO-- which I blogged about here. I was amazed at the similarities. Wheatland actually has the better facility-- they have free wifi and the jumbotron is larger relative to the track, and they have stores and restaurants you can go into to get away from the noise and crowd.

General observations:
Sea of humanity: Cars, RVs, and people as far as the eye can see. I've been to plenty of football games but I've never seen anything like this in size and spirit. It's an incredible feeling to be a part of it.

Couples: There are an army of women who love NASCAR, and most of the guys you see at the track are there with either a girlfriend or spouse. Here's me and my bride as a case in point.
Alcohol: I've never seen so much in one place. It's not just beer ($7/can) but rum, bloody maries, and more sold all over the place. You're allowed to take a cooler into the track, so everyone does.
I felt out of place not having a beer in my hand. And I have never felt more nervous driving home.

Noise: At most sporting events, the crowd makes the noise. At NASCAR the crowd is silent because you can't hear anything over the noise.

Driving in circles: The race is actually pretty boring in person, and hard to follow. If you have a scanner or a headset to catch what's going on, you miss out on all the little nuances and don't know what teams are thinking. The Sprint-sponsored jumbotrons were not very jumbo and unhelpful. I definitely missed the TV commentary and multiple camera angles. Watching the computer animated cars online (using GPS) through NASCAR.com's digital track pass is probably still the most fun way to watch a race, in my opinion.

In all, we really enjoyed the experience. Not sure I would shell out the big bucks it takes to attend again. NASCAR sells all of its tickets as a package-- you have to buy Nationwide and Sprint Cup races together. So, you end up shelling out a large amount for the weekend.

We're thankful to our friends who gave us their Saturday tickets.

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