Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Family - New Traditions!

3 ½ months after getting married, Mrs. I and I got to go on our first trip out of town with her family – the destination? Michigan International Speedway for a weekend of NASCAR racing.

Having never been to a single NASCAR event, let alone a weekend full of it, I was definitely excited to be a part of a yearly tradition that Mrs. I and her family have had for over a decade. So after work on Friday, it was time to head to Cleveland, pick up Mrs. I and head to “that city up north” (Ann Arbor for the non-OSU people out there) where we’d be staying for the weekend.

Between the qualifying, practice sessions, Nationwide Series race (CARFAX 250) and the Sprint Cup race (CARFAX 400), I’m pretty sure my ears are still buzzing with the roar of the engines and upon opening my suitcase and unpacking, I definitely could still smell the exhaust-heavy scent that lingered on the hot drive home in the car trunk. Some may think this is a drawback, I think it’s a great take-away from the experience.

I learned a lot about the sport of auto racing in just a weekend. Soft-sided coolers can be used to bring in your own snacks and drinks (can’t do that in any other professional sport!) and just about any type of food can be found “on a stick”. Fans still will yell and wave at their favorite (or not-so-favorite) drivers, just as fans will do with athletes in other sports, except it’s practically guaranteed that said driver can’t hear what you’re yelling at him over 43 roaring engines – yes, this includes you Mr. Random NASCAR Fan that felt it to be necessary to yell and wave for your driver to consistently pass the car in front of him despite the 185 mph speeds from the massive and loud racing engines – at least it’s an enthusiastic effort!

The best thing I learned about the NASCAR experience is how much fun it is. On TV it may look like hundreds of left hand turns all afternoon, but when you actually get to the track and see it in person (and we didn’t even see “the big one” as far as accidents go), it’s an exciting sport to watch. Watching how easy the drivers make it look to glide in and out of traffic on banked turns makes me wish that even ½ the people who drive on Mentor Ave. would drive just as intelligently.

You’re probably wondering if I picked the winner of the race – unfortunately Team Red Bull, specifically Scott Speed in the #82 didn’t have the best race, but a 25th place finish certainly had no effect on the overall excitement I experienced in my first trip to a weekend of NASCAR. After all, being a Cleveland sports fan, I’m overly familiar with the concept of “there’s always next year”. And when next year does come, you can bet I’ll definitely be ready for another weekend at the track, whether it be a NASCAR sanctioned event at Lake County Speedway or another one of NASCAR’s big, Sprint Cup events or something in between.

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