Speedway Tracks

Yikes! Summer is so intense. That darned sun blasts down on the focused crowd at the tract causing rivers of sweat to descend on their upturned eager faces. They are watching the race unfold as they wipe beads of dew from their brows. Not to be deterred from their NASCAR obsession, they put up with the weather and the enveloping heat. They sip iced drinks and try not to move too much.

Diehard fans go summer, fall, winter, and spring. They don’t let a little warmth deter them, or for that matter a little rain or snow. You know who you are. It’s all about the race. But when it heats up, it may be time for a little cool down. In between the action, it would be nice to have some ceiling fans and misters around the track in strategic places like mini rest areas. It would be hard to do this everywhere, but people need a quick respite, and a few minutes under a cool breeze would do the job.

I suppose some giant whirring non-stop fans would be in order, mounted in the ceilings here and there or free standing. Maybe they could check out some of these ceiling fan reviews and get some cooling happening. Some of them are pretty powerful when on full blast like the ones with streamers in the front flapping in the wind. They would have to be near safe electrical outlets and cords would not likely be displayed in case of tripping as excitement builds. They would have to be well out of the way of rambunctious kids. Heavy enough not to tip over and big enough to have an impact, such fans could save the day for those on the verge of a fainting spell.

It probably sounds nuts, and on those sweltering 100 degree plus days you should probably just stay home under your own little version of a cooling fan. You would have a cold beer in hand and a bowl of popcorn or nuts on the coffee table. With your feet propped up comfortably, you are quite content to be safely indoors. You get close up views, replays, and breaks to get major food.

This is not the case for all NASCAR fans, however. They brave the climate, whatever it is, and get out there and support their guys. Forget the harsh elements—those striking rays that beat down on your unprotected head. So get a logo cap and a moist toilette or two. I am not advocating sun stroke mind you, just a few necessary precautions. Let the kinds find shelter and use sunscreen on everyone! If you are vigilant, you will survive.

There is nothing as exciting as a live NASCAR race anytime of the year. Keeping cool is a tactic to employ so be clever and take ample care. You will enjoy it more if you are not fidgeting and frustrated. Ice goes a long way. Wear dark glasses and you will avoid glare. You don’t want to miss a second (and it comes down to that) of the action.

There are some uses for a portable generator you can’t imagine beyond wilderness camping and an RV on the road. Consider the following scenario.

A NASCAR fanatic won’t miss a race unless he is dying. If you can’t be there, you make do with televised programs like most fans. You always make sure a TV is accessible. But there is nothing like a front seat at the track. In fact, if you are lucky enough to be present in the flesh, you will no doubt join the happy tailgaters who are known to party and camp with gusto and glee. I have heard about and seen it all.

Food and beer are in abundance before the big race. Tasty victuals are required—from the basic BBQ to gourmet picnics. Racetrack parking lots are overflowing venues for festivities that can get pretty wild. RVs, small campers, tents, vans, are loaded with diehard fans. I am in the midst of acres upon acres of guzzling fans upon many occasions. Talladega Superspeedway is my home away from home. I have photos to prove it.

Some places are even family-friendly. The kids expect raucous but sometimes get less. Sonoma Raceway gets some eco types and health nuts with their carafes of white wine. Midwesterners flock to Michigan’s MIS while Bristol Motor Speedway gets wild Tennessee crowd. In some places, there is a great sense of camaraderie and community. If you want to watch qualifying events on TV powered by a neighbor’s generator, by all means do so.

Speaking of generators, I remember one time when I was too far gone to move a muscle. The TV was a lifesaver. My cohort that day brought with him a the best portable generator I’d ever seen as a possible backup for on air information sources. I was truly grateful for the foresight. After that, I went out a bought one for myself. I can take it anywhere on the circuit—TMS to Las Vegas Motor Speedway and any place in between. If you didn’t gamble enough in the hotbed of risk, make your way to Dover in NC with the convenient adjacent casino.

Tailgating is an art and much more than a mere NASCAR pastime. It is a ritual, a rite of passage, and a necessary evil. What is life without a trip to Daytona? The spirit of fun is contagious. Put it on your bucket list. My generator goes with me there too. It remains in the van in any case as I am often on the road. I may not make it as far as New Hampshire, but I do get to Darlington often, and I strive to visit them all at least once. What about you?

This blog has turned into a paean to speedways, and most importantly, the picturesque proceedings before the races. I bet you have a good story to tell. Tailgating is how we give NASCAR its due. It is a sport of celebration in itself and a group joy. We go into it with spirit and come out elated.

There is a speedway in the deep South bordered by acres of open raw land. However, on one side is a property populated by a few random structures. One is a kind of large wooden shed. I was hours early to a race one fine day, my young nephew in tow. He is a bit rambunctious and a dedicated explorer, so it was not surprising that he spotted the shed right out of the box and wandered over instantly for a closer view.

Without an ability to stop the swift boy, I soon witnessed him scale the chain link fence and was already on the other side when I cautioned him to wait for me. I was a bit slower in my efforts, but at last we stood together before the structure hand in hand. I had to restrain him at first.

I was leery of the ramshackle shed. It was so dilapidated and moth-eaten. Holes popped out here and there on the exterior, and the roof sagged on one side. Why would anyone even keep such an eyesore? Of what use could it be? The door creaked as we nudged it gently, fearing it would fall at our first touch. It didn’t. It was dark inside until we propped open the door with a large stone found lying nearby.

Our eyes adjusted to the lack of light. Typical for a boy or a man, we were anxious to root around for discoveries. What did we expect? Dead bodies! Stacks of old tires? Better yet, we found three shiny new motorcycles chained to a post. It wasn’t exactly a secure beam. Termites had gotten to it long before, as they had to most of the wood inside and out the shed. Obviously it was abandoned and while the owners of the shed hadn’t invested in termite treatment, but perhaps they had abandoned it so long ago that they didn’t even realise that it had almost been completely eaten hollow by these pests. You could see gouges, the paper thin wood, and full exposure to the elements.

The bikes were stunning. They looked ready to roar if we had the ability and the drive. Closer we drew to the metal monoliths. I spotted a large red tag on one, then the others. They were the property of a local dealer in the city we had passed through on the way to the track. Stolen goods!!! I had to assume with the prices still attached, they couldn’t be someone’s actual possessions.

Cell phone magic. The police came within minutes and matched the goods to recent reports of stolen merchandise. Quick and easy. Now they had to arrest the owners. We didn’t want to be identified as the ratting culprits and were off as soon as the police allowed us to leave.

We followed up the next day, however, to find out that two derelicts were living on the premises in secret, kind of like unofficial squatters. They had misappropriated the motorcycles a week earlier. Perhaps they had visions of Easy Rider, but their dreams were now nipped in the bud. There is that lure of the open road I suppose, but you have to do it the right way I told my nephew. I winked at him with a wry smile. He understood.