The following is an article by guest contributor Rainier Fuclan.
I went to my first NASCAR event last summer; it was a surreal experience because I expected it to be boring with cars just taking left turns at 200 MPH. However, I was blown away by how enthusiastic the fans were for the drivers they followed, as well as the atmosphere all over the area.
As soon as you come in through the parking lot gates there are massive rows of RV and campers staked out with their tailgating equipment in full swing. I expected people would keep to themselves and families, but during my first five minutes of walking around the tailgating area people would offer me a cold drink and ask what racer I was cheering for. A bit embarrassed, I would tell these kind fans that it was my first experience at NASCAR. As soon as I said that, they jumped up and were so excited to tell them about the sport and what drivers to watch for. I’ve never had this level of enthusiasm and kindness at any sporting even till now.
From there I worked my way through the swarm of people to a RV where people were crowded around. I was wondering what was so special about this tailgating site. All of a sudden the sweet and smokey aroma of BBQ filled my nose. I instantly knew what the fuss was all about as plates of pork ribs and brisket were being passed around. I asked someone if I could have a taste of this deliciousness and within seconds the person in charge of the BBQ smoker graciously hands me a plate of his fall-off-the bone ribs. I’ve got to say they were probably one of the best things I’ve eaten and it was offered to me by the amazing and kind NASCAR tailgating fans.
So far I’ve seen the amazing fans, tasted some amazing tailgating BBQ, and now I need to experience why people enjoy watching cars doing left turns at 200 MPH. Now let me tell you, it’s a completely different feeling between watching it on TV at home and being in the speedway, as hearing the roar of the engines and the smell of burnt rubber just gets you into the mood. Just this alone had me excited to watch the race. It’s more than just going as fast as you can around a track; I learned the drivers had to manage their fuel usage, speed, tire wear & optimal time to bring the car into the pit area. They also have to be on top of keeping their race position and not crashing into each other at deadly speeds. That’s so much to remember, I don’t know how they do it!
One thing I knew going into learning this sport before anything else was that the car crashes are pretty amazing to see. What I didn’t know was how quickly the emergency crash teams came out and cleaned up a wreck. It wasn’t even 10 minutes and the crash crew had the cars moved out of the track before the race picked up again.
I just bought my tickets to the Coke Zero 400 race at the Daytona International Speedway on July 6. I hope I’ll have the same experience I had the first time; I can’t wait to do it all over again!
Rainier Fuclan is an blogger and writer for Road Rat Motors, a Gainesville, FL supplier of scooters and racing go karts. When he’s not writing you can find him learning and experiencing new things in the world.