Race Fans…

I’m not a NASCAR fan.  I’ve been to a few races, but only because the tickets were free and I could say I went.  I live about 45 minutes from the Talladega Superspeedway (http://www.talladegasuperspeedway.com/).  There seems to be a stereotype surrounding “race fans”: they are rednecks.  If you’ve ever been to “Dega” to a NASCAR race, then you know where this stereotype comes from and why.  If you haven’t, let me fill you in.  You have men and women alike dressed scantilly in cut-off shorts, tank tops (or “wife beaters” as they are called here), and in most cases wearing some form of bandana and/or baseball cap on their heads.  These same people will drink beer (readily available at all concession stands inside the race track property) until they are falling-down drunk.  They have either forgotten sunscreen or just don’t care.  By the end of the day they are scorching red but are too drunk to realize it’s painful.  Most of these class-challenged women will “flash” everyone that looks their way.  It must be an unspoken rule that you aren’t allowed to wear a bra to these events.  Now, I’m not saying that all NASCAR fans are white-trash-rednecks.  Just the ones in the cheap seats.  And by cheap seats, I mean the ones that cost around $60 each, which in my book isn’t cheap.  But I digress.  If, by definition, the above mentioned would be grounds for stamping everyone with a “redneck” label, then that would also apply to most of the beaches that border the Gulf Of Mexico and celebrate Mardi Gras.  The only difference being the tossing of cheap bead necklaces and the absence of obnoxiously loud and fast cars.  Lets back up to the two nights before the race, shall we?  There are camp grounds surrounding the track.  These camps are only open twice per year.  The weeks of the races.  People from all over the country drive their RV’s in to stay close to the track.  And then you have people who actually live here who drive there to stay for the parties.  That’s right.  Drunken, redneck parties.  How do I know this?  A friend of mine was so kind as to share stories and photos from one such weekend with me a couple years ago.  I’ll spare you the details.  The short story:  there was excessive alcohol consumption, mud wrestling, wet t-shirt contests, and some other activities that we’ll leave unspoken.  These are ADULTS.  Oh, and then lets talk about the race itself.  On the third lap, the entire track stands and holds up three fingers in the air.  I asked someone why they did that and I was looked at like I had come from another planet.  “Dale Earnhart DIED, remember?  His numer was 3.  It’s in honor of him, now get to your feet!!”  I didn’t want to be shot, so I participated too.  I dutifully held up my three fingers for the duration of the lap.  Then sat back in my seat and wondered what else I didn’t know.  I didn’t learn any life-altering lessons that day, but I did get a good look at the folks around me.  Everyday, normal people.  They come out to the race track to relax.  Drink beer.  Laugh.  Have a good time.  Toss their inhibitions to the wind.  And hope for a crash.  Isn’t that the whole reason people watch this sport?  I personally don’t care to watch a bunch of loud cars drive ridiculously fast and turn left.  Over and over and over.  However, I do enjoy watching people.  If you’re a people-watcher, and not in the creepy way, then this sport is for you (if you can afford it.)

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