Ever since I was a two-year old running around yelling, “I’m Mark Mark (Mark Martin, newest NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee and my favorite driver until he retired), and I’m going to win the race,” I have loved NASCAR.
I have collected so many of the Hot Wheels cars, played the videogames, watched many races on TV, collected driver cards and various nick nacks from many of my favorite drivers, and so much more.
I also understand that after writing those first two sentences, more than half of you stopped reading. I have long ago accepted that many people will dismiss NASCAR or any other form of racing as “boring because they go around and around in a circle,” not a sport (which is a complete lie or an extremely uniformed statement), and just about everything else they can think of to try and discredit it. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people react negatively or are in complete disbelief when I mention something about the sport that I love. It used to affect me, but now I realize that everyone is going to have their own (wrong) opinion on why NASCAR isn’t that great, and that’s fine.
Anyways, back to what I wanted to talk about. Today was Daytona Day! Feb. 26, 2017 was the 59th running of the Daytona 500, otherwise known as “NASCAR’s Super Bowl” and countless other iconic nicknames for the wondrous event. Every year, NASCAR’s best descend upon Daytona Beach, Florida to tackle the 2.5-mile track with turns banked at 31 degrees.
All 40 cars will race side-by-side, three-wide and sometimes even four-wide at 180-200 miles per hour. There are preposterously close finishes, such as last year’s race where Denny Hamlin literally beat Martin Truex Jr. by a foot at the start finish line, or other crazy moments where cars can use the draft to come from eighth to first in the matter of a lap.
With all 40 cars racing that close to each other, there are also plenty of giant crashes that pique even the most casual fan’s interest as they see cars barrel roll almost yearly. Through so many safety changes and innovations, drivers have never been safer, but there always is a sense of danger with both driver and fan which gives the sport even more of an appeal.
Although there are far too many 1.5 mile ovals where passing is hard to come by and many fans will claim is boring, the superspeedways, road courses and short tracks are what make NASCAR so popular. Daytona is one of those superspeedways where there could be nearly 70 lead changes in a 200 lap race.
Although I missed most of the 59th running of the race due to work, I was still just as excited to find out what was going on via Twitter. There is no doubt that I will also be reading as many stories about the race as I possibly can, along with attempting to find some (most likely illegal) link to watch the parts of the race that I missed.
Some may call me crazy for loving a sport such as this, but I can literally tell them that friendships, memories and so much more were made from this so-called ‘boring’ sport. I will always have a place in my heart for NASCAR, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.