In the world of sports, it can be hard to choose a favorite. One sport that gets overlooked by many is the sport that is NASCAR. Auto racing is like other sports in that we all have our favorites, and there’s always an underdog waiting for the chance to make a name for himself. Also like other sports, NASCAR has the ability to bring people from every imaginable background together in rare unity with total disregard for the things that usually divide us. Otherwise, though, NASCAR offers a sports model unlike most others.
A typical team sporting event involves one home team and one road team. The home team’s advantage is familiar territory and more fans in attendance. The winning team is the one who works together well enough to have the better day. In golf, many players come together at courses in various cities to compete in a nice orderly fashion. In tennis, players go head to head on neutral ground. NASCAR does all of these things, but in its own unique way.
The first big difference between NASCAR and most other sports is that there are 43 players involved. All on the track at the same time. And not in a quiet, single-file kind of way. There are 43 race cars going around the track at around 200 mph, and they all want to win. Picture 43 of the world’s best golfers all playing the same hole at the same time. Doesn’t work, does it? But in auto racing, steel cars and steel nerves compete and collide, sometimes literally, in the same place at the same time until the checkered flag waves.
The fact that a race involves 43 different drivers means that the tens of thousands of fans in the stands could be rooting for any one of them. In most sports, it’s one side versus the other. In NASCAR, it’s every man for himself. This diversity actually seems to increase the level of camaraderie present among fans. Only one of 43 can win, so that leaves room for fans to have one “main man” plus a couple others they can get behind.
While drivers are the main focus of any race, NASCAR is definitely a team sport. Many fans will agree that a race can be won or lost in the pit. Watching the action along pit road can be nearly as exciting as watching the race itself. How quickly your guy gets in and out can add fuel to the fire or maybe douse the flames a bit.
The danger is another draw for many. We certainly never want to see anyone get hurt, regardless of the sport, but it’s a fact that crashes are always possible in any auto race. So many cars jockeying for position can lead to harrowing turns, risky slingshot moves, drivers working together to advance themselves or slow down a leader, and other moves that even the most aggressive drivers on the highway only dream about. This excitement can keep us on the edges of our seats. A misguided pass or calculated “bump” can mean gaining ground or can lead to disaster. Add in the chance of mechanical issues or blown tires, and a spectacular crash that takes out multiple cars is always a possibility. Again, we don’t actually want to see anyone get injured, but we also can’t look away.
While the sights, sounds, and smells on the track are more than enough to draw us in, many tracks and their host cities are doing more and more to make the experience even more memorable. In addition to the tailgating atmosphere ever present at NASCAR events, you can often find a weekend filled with music, food, and activities for the whole family. NASCAR has always been very fan oriented, so meeting drivers and touring pits is also part of the NASCAR experience, allowing many fans to get closer to the action than in other sports.
The number and variety of tracks (including oval short tracks and longer road courses) across the country means you’re sure to be able to find a great race in a great city leading to a great experience that’s worth the trip!