When my oldest son was three or four years old when he took an interest in NASCAR racing. He would sit still for hours watching racing on
television. This obsession of his slowly turned all of us into race fans (except my daughter, but that is a story for another day). It does not matter what kind of racing it is, we will watch it. NASCAR, ARCA, Indy Cars, F1, we even make it to our local dirt track when we get the chance.
NASCAR comes to Texas Motor Speedway three times during a year. The Monster Energy Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and The Gander Outdoors Truck Series come in the Spring and Fall. The Gander Outdoors Truck Series races in Texas on the weekend the Indy Cars come to the speedway. My sons and I have been to NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, and Rockingham Speedway.
Why we like NASCAR racing.
I have been thinking a lot about why racing attracted us and what makes us keep watching and going to races. I think it comes down to 4 big things.
The people in racing. Racing is a team sport and in a lot of cases a family sport. Everyone will recognize some of the famous family names in racing, Earnhart, Unser, Petty, Andretti. However, almost every race team or driver has a story about how their family has raced or how their parents sacrificed so they could follow their dreams. This family connection drives so much of the atmosphere at a racing event.
The Show. A major race (NASCAR, Indy Car, F1) is a show. The effort track promoters put into making sure fans are entertained before, during and after the race is really impressive. Just watch some of the pre-race coverage, you will see everything from concerts to guys being shot out of cannons. At least with NASCAR, I need to add patriotism to that list. NASCAR always takes time at the start of every event to pray and honor America with the National Anthem and unlike almost every other professional sport in the U.S., I have never seen anyone take a knee.
Access. No other sport gives fans so much access to the athletes before sporting events. For example at Texas Motor Speedway, my son and I had purchased passes to the front stretch and Pit Road for the Pre Race. WE were able to get within inches of the cars and talk to the drivers and crews almost right up to the minute before they climbed in to fire the engines. This would be like the New England Patriots all going into the stands before a game to sign autographs.
The value. Racing understands better than any other sport that they depend on the fans. Tracks work hard to keep the price of tickets affordable so almost anyone can come to a race. So far our weekend at Texas this year (Fall 2019) our tickets cost $150.00. For that, we got 2 tickets for races on Saturday and Sunday, pre-race events on the front stretch for the Sup Race on Sunday and tickets to all of the practice sessions on Friday. Racing also understands the families go to races. Also, coolers are allowed in so you are not dependent on the food for sale at the track. The biggest savins are kids under 12 get a BIG discount on tickets. So my 12-year-old was 76% off for this weekend.
NASCAR Race Experience.
Since everything is bigger in Texas, that has to include the race experience. Texas Motor Speedway put on a big show on race day for the Top racing Series, The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. This year that included everything from skydivers to bullfighters to even a Faris wheel. The Fan Zone at a race is a mix of merchandise haulers representing almost all the drivers, teams. manufacturers and displays from the various sponsors of the track and the event. At the fall race in Texas, you could get samples of things like BBQ sauce. You also get freebies. We got pens, pencils, stress balls, sunglasses and stickers from all kinds of exhibitors.
One of the big things for kids and adults to do is collect autographs from the drivers. My son is no different, this was his first Cup race and
he wanted his favorite driver, William Bryon. Honestly, this is my favorite story from the weekend. I bought tickets for us to be on the track for Driver Introductions. This is a major part of the show biz side of racing. The Drivers come out on stage and are introduced and then walk down through the crowd to a Pickup truck that takes them around so everyone can see their favorite driver.
We were standing along the rail where the drivers would walk. My son was there with his brand new “24” hat and a silver sharpie. When William Bryon came by he was working the other side of the fence. S he started to move on everyone standing near my son started shouting “William”. He looked and came straight over to my son and singed his hat and just made his day. The boy was excited and just bouncing. Then the man that was next to him came and said I got it all on video for you since you were couldn’t from where you were. We swapped phone numbers and before the race was over he sent me the movie. NASCAR fans are the best sports fans in the world.
Tips for a Great Time at a Race.
- Pick a favorite Driver, it will make it more fun.
- Rent a Scanner so you can listen to your driver and his team communicate.
- Go early, enjoy the fan zone.
- Earmuffs, especially for kids (Race Cars are LOUD).
- Get tickets to go on the track for driver introductions.
- Bring snacks and drinks so you don’t blow the budget at the concessions.
- Bring seat cushions if you are in the bleacher seats