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The Painman Explains Why Everyone Should Go to a NASCAR Race

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The Daytona 500 is coming up on Sunday, February 23rd and I’m about as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. Don’t get me wrong, I love baseball, football, basketball, and other sports, but NASCAR is my favorite sport. Ya know, I get flack from my ‘cool’ friends all the time about my love of NASCAR, so here’s my explanation and why you should get into it too.

I first got introduced to NASCAR back when I was in elementary school when a new kid showed up at school. This guy, John, moved down from Pennsylvania and all he would talk about was this racer named Richard Petty. At first, I made fun of him for being a ‘redneck’ because he liked NASCAR and didn’t show any appreciation for a ‘real’ sport, like football. Eventually, I became intrigued, so I started to watch racing (on TV) as much as I could. It was cool, but it wasn’t anything I went crazy over.

Later in life, I started watching it more because college buddies turned various NASCAR events into drinking games. Once you introduce a drinking game, anything can become worth my time.

Fast forward to a few years later to the building of Texas Motor Speedway. When it was built, most thought of it as a concert venue because of the insane concert known as Rockfest. Like everyone else, I made the trek to the track to watch this concert and while I was there, I fell in love with Texas Motor Speedway. Not long after Rockfest was the 1st NASCAR weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. I decided to check out the inaugural weekend and was sold from then on.

Why did I like it so much? Well, to me, it was like a combination of a sporting event, Mardi Gras, and spring break. Seriously, it was a huge party. While most games last a few hours then you leave the stadium, a NASCAR race lasts a few hours, but no one leaves the track. This is a weekend experience that includes camping, drinking, fireworks, cooking out (tailgating), watching the race, watching the people, meeting celebrities, watching a concert or two and a variety of other activities in between the races. Best of all, at Texas Motor Speedway, you can brink your own booze. While places, like Jerry World, gouge you on beer prices, at TMS you can load up your own cooler and bring it in…and there’s no cooler charge either. I’m talking about a couple hundred thousand people gathering in the same place for one of the biggest parties you’ll ever see.

Now those reasons above were enough to get me really excited about NASCAR, so I started watching it more and learning about the drivers, teams and such. That’s when the sport itself started making more sense to me and easier to really enjoy. Following your favorite driver or team is no different than going to a Dallas Cowboys game to see your favorite player or cheerleader. However, the big difference is that in NASCAR there’s a much greater chance you actually get to meet the drivers and others in the world of racing. In NASCAR you can tour the pits, get close to the cars, and more. It’s definitely a sport that focuses on the fan experience. You really can’t say that about other sports.

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