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Inside Ed's Head

Sunday Funday at PIR
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By Eddie Laub | 03/16/2015
Category: Inside Ed's Head
 

There's been a lot of talk recently about NASCAR losing its longtime fan base. Even around here at RJO, many have expressed a similar sentiment - longtime fans being done with the sport. There are multiple reasons why, and most are pretty valid reasons. I have resisted the urge to be “done.” Today I figured out a bit why. Allow me to tell a little story:

Back in November 1988, my family packed up and headed to Phoenix International Raceway.  As a family, it was our first trip to a big time NASCAR race, and it was also happened to be the Winston Cup Series’ first foray into Phoenix. I was a sophomore in high school, and I was hooked on NASCAR. My mom, my dad, my little sister, and our barely-a-bun-in-the-oven other little sister all headed to the Valley of the Sun to enjoy a weekend of NASCAR. 

I can still remember the first moment the track came into view over the horizon.  The back of the media tower was the first thing that could be seen. I was giddy with excitement as I tried to figure out: was that the track? Or not? It had to be! It had to be! IT WAS! There it is!! 

I was nervous. I was excited. I couldn’t wait to see the cars zooming by! 

When we got out of the car, I could hear the sound of cars on the track. This is what the 14 year-old me envisioned heaven to be. God has to be a NASCAR fan. Why else would races be mostly on Sunday? He likes to watch too! That makes perfect sense, Right? We did the whole weekend. We watched qualifying- both sessions. We watched the Southwest Tour race. We ate track food. We took pictures with the 1988 Winston Cup that would, the very next weekend, be presented to Bill Elliott. It was a beautiful thing. 

This morning, some 27 years later, I experienced the same euphoria as I approached the track. The same excitement. The same nervousness. The same anticipation to see the sport I love take to the track and thrill me with noise, smell, dirt and rubber flying up from the track, and the pure American horsepower and speed. This - THIS is why I love NASCAR. This is why I am not yet done with the sport I love. What’s that old saying? A bad day at the track is better than a good day at work? I totally agree.  

Having said all that, I will add that being stuck in a traffic jam on a bridge that I can feel moving gave its own measure of nervousness and stomach butterflies this morning...

So I got to spend my day at the racetrack. I got to take pictures, and walk around, and thoroughly exhaust myself and have a great time doing it. I got to hear the cars go by. I got to smell the brake cleaner in the pits and the burned fuel of the jet dryers. I got pelted in the face with road dirt.

In garage news today..

-Kevin Harvick’s team had to fix the front air dam before passing technical inspection.  It apparently didn’t hurt the car too much.  
-AJ Almendinger had to go to the back for switching a transmission.  
-I said “Nice rear end!” to a Roush Crewmember toting an extra rear end for the 17 car. We both chuckled. 
-I watched guys climb into cages at each caution to clean off the lens of the remote controlled cameras. 
-Tony Stewart looked extremely ticked off as he walked past me after being released from the media center. He looked so mad that I was terrified to ask him if he was ok. So I didn’t.  
-The California cars are loaded up for California, the Phoenix cars loaded up for the trek back home.

All that was fantastic. But it doesn’t even compare to the feeling that I get just being here and being part of it all. And no, I never bought a CARBorater sandwich. And I just did turn down a free one.

The race is now over. Harvick dominated, pretty much as expected. The #4 car has been pushed away from victory lane. I've washed layers of dirt and crud off my face from sitting outside turn one taking pictures of a couple restarts. I’ve never been in a tornado, but the amount of force that the air hit my face about 20 seconds after the field went by had to be close to at least a category 1 tornado. Some of those little pieces of dirt hurt!  I never saw any flying cows though. The sun is setting on the track, and also on my day.

I’ve had a great day at the track, and I still love NASCAR!

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Comments:
Bill B
03/16/2015 6:31 am (1)
Yeah, going to watch the race live is always a fun day (especially if you have access to areas most fans don't).

Too bad you have to watch the other 34 races (not at Phoenix) on tv like the rest of us.

Carol
03/16/2015 9:17 am (2)
Bill?

Do you need a Snickers?

C
Bill B
03/16/2015 11:07 am (3)
Sure. I'll take a Snickers, but I don't see how that will make the tv coverage or the race better.
Mr. O
03/16/2015 5:04 pm (4)
Bill, Bill, Bill. It's always about Bill. I don't like the TV coverage either.

In fact, I noticed something this weekend. I don't watch the races on TV (don't get most of them). But Rusty has made the move to MRN. On TV, he is awful to watch, just in the short replay clips I've seen. On radio, I still could do without him, but he's tolerable. He still talks down to the audience somewhat, but not nearly as bad as on TV, and he doesn't sound like he's trying to overhype some agenda.

MRN and PRN have always been better than FOX, NBC, ESPN, TNT, TBS, etc. And I always thought it was just the personalities: Alan Bestwick, Barney Hall, Eli Gold, Ned Jarrett, and many others. And that is a large part of it. But now I think that it's not that radio is that much better. It's the philosophy behind the production and presentation of a TV "show" that makes the races so awful.
Bill B
03/16/2015 5:29 pm (5)
??? How is bad tv coverage about me Mr O ???

I don't have an MRN station in my area or I'd be listening to that. I agree 100%, MRN blows away any tv network coverage.

All I was trying to point out is that the reason a lot of people say they are done with NASCAR probably has more to do with the presentation than the racing.
Mr. O
03/16/2015 8:05 pm (6)
Not about you, Bill. Sorry, I was playing off of Carol's Snickers comment.
Carol
03/16/2015 8:40 pm (7)
Mr. O,
LOL I got it. Not sure he got the original comment, though.

C
Bill B
03/17/2015 6:41 am (8)
I got it Carol but it didn't make sense to me.

The humor of the Snickers commercial hinges on the person being offered the candy "not being themselves" because they are hungry.

I always point out the shortcomings of the broadcast, so I was being myself (for better or worse LOL). So I didn't see how it applied in this case.

I do admit that Mr O's allusion to the "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha" bit in the commercial went over my head. Totally missed that one.

Anyway, it's all good.
Carol
03/17/2015 11:05 am (9)
Just seemed your comment in Friday's article and then your comment in this article...weren't "you".

C
Bill B
03/17/2015 3:02 pm (10)
LOL...

Well sometimes when the schizophrenia kicks in, I'm like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're gonna get. :)

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