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Just mention NASCAR and the pulse races, the heart beats loudly, and the ears prick up to hear any snippet of information. To be there in person would be the ultimate experience. I have thought about it, but it’s far away to be making any immediate plans. You can still be a fan in spirit even if you never attend. It is a kind of mania for me and my friends. Right now, the TV will have to do. I like to sit, relax with the feet up, and indulge in my passion. But after so many years, how to make it special? Some great food and a few extra sofa pillows will help. It has to be an event, a kind of indoor compromise to the real thing. Like a tail gate party and precursor event.

I remember one time a few years back when I got a bit overwrought about it and decided to pretend we were really there. I had pennants and posters, newspapers strewn with articles about featuring the racers. Loads of photos of great cars and highlights of past years including interviews and recollections. It was a pretty good simulation but not outdoors enough in reality. I opened the doors and windows and dressed as I would at the track. So did my willing friends, God love ‘em.

John brought a very cool backpack (literally). It had a built in insulated zone – I thought that was pretty clever. He looked like he had just walked all the way from our hometown to the track—no matter the ocean in between! As we got the room ready and were mentally set for the first race, he pulled out a six-pack still cold as ice. That went down easy. He also extracted a bag of chips and some nuts. What else was in there!

Harve came in a half-hour later, wearing a picnic backpack. What! It, too, had pretzels, beer, and microwave popcorn, and more. Not a minute later Greg shows up with his version of a denim oversized bag laden with candy and other munchies. Was this a conspiracy? Actually yes. The guys had gotten together on the phone to amuse me with the camping vibe and it worked. We had a good laugh and a great time—one of the best. This kind of camaraderie is invaluable. It binds us like the tight group that we are and defines us as mates.

I wanted to repeat it years later but you can never copy perfectly a good time. It is in the air, a rare moment never to return but that lasts in the memory for life. That’s my buddies. We are in sync and on track together. NASCAR is our defining interest, however, among other assorted mutual interests. We like any excuse to get together, let loose, and whoop it up. We can manufacture it if we have to. With the race, it is already part of the joy of life. Whenever a winning drive comes our way, we are there with autograph books in hand (or some form of them) and smiling faces.