If you talk to any racing fan and ask how they became interested in racing, they would all have their own story. Sadly, outsiders are quick to denounce NASCAR as a "redneck" sport, and one that takes very little skill and effort to perform. This could be further from the truth. But we will save this debate for another article. The best part about all forms of racing is that in a sense, it is like a small community, where people from all walks of life gather together and enjoy it. As a fan of all forms of racing, and just in time for Father's Day, I thought that I would share my story as to how I became a fan of racing, and it started with just one race.
It was a cold and sunny February day in 1993, and I was just 8 years old. I was your typical girl. I took dance lessons, played with my Barbie dolls, and loved playing video games. My dad, who has always been a racing fan, had the TV tuned to the Daytona 500. He went on and on all day about how Dale Earnhardt (mind you, this name was foreign to me before this day) was going to win the Daytona 500 because he was just that awesome. I had to see what the big deal was. So after I came back home from town with my mom, I sat down on the couch and watched it with him. I wasn't interested in it at first. Then, with 50 laps to go, there was a crash involving Kyle Petty and Bobby Hillin, and the two began to fight. As crass as it may be, this was what ultimately captivated my interest, and made me an instant fan.
I then started watching all forms of racing. I enjoyed watching NHRA and IndyCar races as much as NASCAR races, and on the weekends, the television in my bedroom was on ESPN nonstop. I even went as far as memorizing all the NASCAR drivers. If you asked me "Who drives the number 42 car?' I would have instantly knew the answer, and of course, it was Kyle Petty. My father and I bonded over this sport and we would watch it together. We saw Dale Earnhardt win his seventh championship, and would be happy for days.
However, as I grew up a little bit, I kind of took an hiatus from racing and started getting into baseball and college basketball. My interest of racing wasn't piqued again until the year 2000, when once again, I was watching the race with my dad. I got hooked again, until that fateful day in 2001 occurred. At the time, I was a huge Dale Earnhardt fan, and it hurt so bad losing him, that I lost interest in racing. I started developing other interests and decided that NASCAR and racing wasn't just the same anymore.
About eight years later, I started dating a wonderful guy named Jason, and as you all know, he eventually became my husband. Jason is also a huge racing fan, and has been to multiple races. At the time we started dating, I could care less about NASCAR, and I wouldn't pay it any attention while he had it on. I would do other things while the races were on. If you would have told my 8 year-old self that I would eventually become disinterested in racing, I would have laughed at you. But yes, I did live a life without racing, and I thought I was happy.
Then, in 2010, I had the opportunity to attend my first race ever. It was the All-Star race in Charlotte, and Jason and his family went almost every year for his birthday. I was very apprehensive at first, because I thought that I would be bored being there because I wasn't really a NASCAR fan. Turned out I was in for a surprise. I went and had the best time of my life. I had so much of an awesome time, that it turned me back into a fan again. Now, I am hooked once again.
I refer to racing as my drug because it is hard to let go of it and stop being addicted to it. I now watch it religiously again, and I am here with The Podium Finish writing about it. Even though I had a few years of my life without racing, I now can't imagine what I would do without it. It has become a part of my life, and I have made so many friends because of it. It is a thing that still bonds my father and I together. It is also a common interest that I share with my husband as well. I will introduce it to my kids someday, because, it's so awesome that it should be shared with everyone. I am a fan for life!