Saturday, 23 February 2013

50 year old (NASCAR) virgin

                                                                          Dads 50th
     Have you ever had someone you care about say they wanted to do a certain something more than once, but they keep putting it off. In 2009 I had enough of hearing my Dad, Hank who was turning 50 in August, saying he wanted to go to a NASCAR race. It became my mission to do make this race happen & bring it to life for him.
     With research I discovered Bristol Tennessee was where we should enjoy our first race. It had everything I wanted! It was an August Race and we could drive there in a day, Night Time Race (no sunburn) and we could watch the whole race from our seats.

     With my brother Sam on Board. We bought tickets in April for the Foodland 250 nationwide race and the Bristol Sharpie 500 race and gave it to him on father’s day so he could plan around it. We knew it was possibly the greatest gift of all times. For those who have never been to Bristol it is a small city (POP. 29000) along the Virginia and Tennessee state border.

     Bristol Motor Speedway is known as the world’s fastest half mile, and holds 165,000 fans, nearly 6 times the city's population. So you can just imagine how much the people of Bristol and surrounding areas depend on these races to bring revenue to the city of Bristol.

     We left one early August morning with plans to see the Transport Parade. What is a Transport Parade? It is a parade of Transport trucks that are hauling the cars and equipment of most of the drivers that are in the race. (Best of all, it's FREE!). They shut down the highway next to the track and the trucks stroll in honking their air horns. If it is your first time to a NASCAR race, I recommend putting it on your list of things to do.  This happened to be one of the things my dad had wanted to do, although it rained it was still really cool see and it got us pretty excited for the races.

     We left for the Nationwide race early in the afternoon. As we neared the track we were in awe of what seemed like hundreds of thousands of people and thousand of trailers, trucks, campers and cars... (Get the picture)

     When we finally parked we enjoyed some beers on the tailgate of my dad’s truck. We were taking pictures of the area and stadium, but what we really wanted was a shot of all of us in one picture together. We decided on asking our tailgate neighbors who were happy to do it. Turned out they were from Kentucky and we enjoyed a couple hours with those guys having a few beers. They were telling us stories about their past Bristol expieriences. They were pretty funny guys

      We then headed over to the Transport Flea Market (which is the souvenir trailers of all the drivers with BBQ pits surrounding the area) I can almost smell the pulled pork right now. After a bit of shopping and a steep climb to our seats we were there! For our first ever NASCAR race we had awesome seats! We could see the whole race track. That is why Bristol is one of the best; every seat is a good one. That night the military brought in 2 huge helicopters for the fly over.

      We made ourselves friendly with our seat neighbors who were from Indiana. While talking to them (2 men and 1 woman) during one of the cautions and I had an idea! "How about you trade me your beer for my beer?" I asked." Why would I want to do that?" the one man replied. "Because it’s the same thing (Coors Light), except mine is Canadian so it's stronger, by half a percent!" After thinking about it they agreed. After they tasted it, I asked "So what do you think?" "Well... Nope. No sir I do not like it" They replied. I could barely hold my laughter in, "That’s what I thought you might say!" as I burst into laughter...

     That night David Ragan won the race and there were some pretty awesome wrecks. It was almost just like watching the race at home. Only being there in Real Life Super HD and it is so unbelievably LOUD!

It was a good Nationwide race but it was no 500 race!

     The next day we made our way into Bristol earlier than the previous day. This time only to park further away in someone’s backyard. So here we are freshly backed in to our spot and we hear someone yell at us. "What, are you following us or something?" We looked over and it was our friends from Kentucky, Amazingly we had parked beside them for a second time in a row. Those guys were hilarious, the only time I seen them frown was when Sam went on a booze filled rant and forgot where he was and indirectly called them rednecks! After I cleared the air, everything was cool.

   After a glorious afternoon of tailgating we stumbled are way up to our seats. The hill and stairs seemed endless. Our seats were the same as the previous race and we had the same neighbors, and no they still didn’t like our beer.

     This race was why we made our way to Bristol, Tennessee to commemorate my dad’s 50th birthday. The "Bristol 500" "Rubbing and Racing" "The Fastest Half Mile" We were told it was THE race to see. I think they were right. The sounds of those cars starting up, the sounds of the military jets flying over the race track. Almost made me feel American. Almost, until just before the NASCAR Sharpie 500 race, 160,000 fans came together and sang "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks all at the same time which is a Guinness World Record for most karaoke participants. Then we really felt American.

      The race was very memorable. High points being Mark Martin's 1000th start, which he came in 2nd place behind Kyle Busch who is very talented but I didn't care for him. Kyle's brother Kurt was in a wreck and we heard every hilarious cussword he had to say on our headphones over and over and over again we even let our neighbors listen.

     When were leaving the track there was fireworks being set off in a nearby trailer park, I remember 2 losers going the opposite direction that everyone else was going, yelling this way for free Kyle Busch autographs. I found this quite amusing because no one was following them, no one.

                              3 things that enhanced our race experience at Bristol:

· The NASCAR approved radio headsets so you can track your favorite racer or the leader of the race. These came with a special screen that aloud you to track multiple drivers, listen to the broadcast of the race, reply transmissions, and view in car camera's. Definetly something worth it for any race fan. It provided lots of entertainment during cautions.
·  Canadian Beer you are allowed to bring in your own cooler filled with canned beer at most tracks thankfully Bristol is one of the tracks that allow that. (I’m not saying you need beer to have fun, but it certainly helps!) With that beer we had picked up at the duty free shop on the drive down. !
·  The NASCAR Fans and the people of Bristol. We had a great time and even with all the booze, everyone pretty much police's themselves. We felt safe and welcome our entire stay. 

    Please feel free to share some of your favorite NASCAR memories with me,



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