So one of my favorite birthday cards my dad ever got was, appropriately, about Nascar. On the front it had two hillbilly-ish looking guys and a caption saying “Ever wonder how “Nascar” got its name?”. Inside the car the two hillbillies were looking at a car and their speech bubbles said, “That’s a nas car right there.” and “Yeah, a reeeaaal nas car.”
If you were to call me a redneck or hick or hillbilly for proudly proclaiming that Nascar (and racing in general) is one of my favorite all time sports (up there with soccer, and third would be hockey), I’d thank you because I have no problem with these terms.
I don’t mind, of course, when people don’t like Nascar. It’s like how I just don’t like basketball, for my own reasons (I just find it boring); everyone deserves their own opinion. I tend to get fired up and disagree, though, when people don’t consider it a sport. “Sport” is a very general term (go look it up in a dictionary, why don’t ya?), and if it can include cheerleading, it can include racing. Though they are not the quintessential example of “athlete”, they have the second best reflexes in sports, only after baseball players. They require more mental toughness than in any other sport, considering they are in a car that can reach speeds of almost 200 miles per hour (on the fastest tracks, even on the smaller tracks its still 150 or so) for hours, under the pressure of the G forces and knowing that a single move can, at best, ruin their car and put them out of the race, at worst injure them or take their life, or hurt someone else. As the commercials like to say, “Everything else is just a game”.
Honestly, my love for the sport doesn’t have any sense to it? Why would I waste a few hours just sitting, watching cars go around in a circle again, and again, and again, and again, for 200-500 miles. Essentially, that is all Nascar is.
But is so much more. There is so much engineering and technological genius that goes into these cars, that I guess people like my dad (who is a heavy equipment (crane) mechanic) can relate to. The athletes in Nascar are the most grounded, coolest guys in all of sports. They make a fair amount, but it is far from ridiculous. They are just typical guys who love racing and cars.
I’ve watched Nascar so intently over my childhood and teenage years that I know most of the drivers by heart, and have my little preferences and inside jokes with my dad. Chad Knaus is probably one of the smartest guys around, and my dad likes to say he could have worked for NASA or something but went to Nascar instead. Whenever they talk about Juan Pablo Montoya, my family always quotes the Princess Bride and say, “I am Juan Pablo Montoya, and you killed my father; prepare to die.” Oh and it wouldn’t be a race without Sam Hornish Jr. wrecking. I’ll even admit to my crush on Trevor Bayne (if you’re out there, I love you, WAIT FOR ME. Sorry, I’m joking of course, but I couldn’t resist).
But most importantly are the wonderful ways it has affected me personally. Nascar just makes me feel good, and relaxes me (even though sometimes the suspense of those few final races kills me). When my favorite drivers win (such as when Brad Keselowski, won the championship last season), it’s as if I just won the race. It’s exciting. My dad, of course, works all week and sometimes Saturdays. Nothing beats Nascar season and the assuredness that he will be there watching the race on Sunday afternoon-and I can be there alongside him. We talk and joke about the race and other things too; it’s something that just brings us together, and I will always be thankful to Nascar for the wonderful experiences it has put in my life.
So, come Sunday afternoon, I will be on my couch, probably some tortillas and salsa on the table, with my dad and dog close by, watching the first race of the 2013 season of Nascar: the Daytona 500.