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Author Archives: Misty

It’s a family affair…NASCAR is… and this was never more apparent to me than at this year’s Champions Week  Fan Fest at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  The gates opened at 10 a.m.  for fans to mingle in the Neon Garage in anticipation of the driver’s appearances that afternoon.  Fans of all ages, just like the Christmas song says, “from ages 2-92”, were there and they were ready to see the Chasers. 

There were some activities and sights to entertain the fans before the afternoon’s main event, but most began lining up alongside the red carpet almost immediately, looking to get an autograph or a picture of their favorite Chase driver. 

Nothing like standing in the hot sun, elbow to elbow with complete strangers to create some camaraderie and friendship.  NASCAR fans are a pretty friendly and gregarious group of people and when you are shoulder to shoulder together for hours on end you tend to get pretty close, pretty fast sharing stories to pass the time and take your mind off of how bad your feet hurt, and how much longer before the boys arrive.

This kind of quick camaraderie and sense of belonging among the fans didn’t surprise me.  After all what NASCAR fan hasn’t witnessed the same thing in any parking lot and track on the circuit, but what did surprise me was how that sense of family, recognition and belonging carried on with the drivers.  As the top 12 NASCAR drivers inched their way down the red carpet, it dawned on me how much like a family we all are.  These elite athletes could easily have sauntered down the red carpet, smiling for a few pictures, maybe signing an autograph or two to appear engaged in the moment and then carried on with themselves, but they didn’t do that at all.  In fact, just as I said, they literally “inched” their way down the carpet stopping to sign autographs for most, if not all, the fans who asked, taking time to really engage with the fans.  Some even came back to fans that they had missed on the first pass.  In the big scheme of things, the extra 15 minutes it took these guys to walk down the red carpet probably doesn’t matter much to them, but it made all the difference to those fans who watch them week in and week out, year after year.  I have to admit, that the experiences I have had over the last two years during Fan Fest has given me admiration for drivers that I was previously ambivalent or even antipathetic toward before “meeting” them on the red carpet.

To bring home the family feel even further was the way they guys interacted with one another on stage during “Family Feud”.  Watching them tease, joke and laugh at each other, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own family gatherings and struck by how much these guys remind me of my loud, crazy cousins getting rowdy at grandma’s every holiday.  Who knew Clint Bowyer was such a cut up or that Tony Stewart could make Jeff Gordon laugh so hard he literally slapped his knee???  It was fun to watch and made me feel connected to these drivers and this sport even more than I already did.

Fan Fest is an awesome experience, a place you can bring your whole family to get a glimpse of the personalities they watch on track every week, and feel confident that nobody is going to be disappointed or disillusioned with their favorite driver.  In fact, the only real danger I see is walking away liking one of the drivers that you previously rooted against on Sunday.

This is a new feature of Amy’s Bad Groove….a guest column by Misty!  Misty is a great writer, my best friend, and someone who supports badgroove from behind the scenes.  I hope she writes more of them for us and I think you will see why once you read her first post!—Amy

I admit it…I have a competitive streak a country mile wide.  Some say it is due to my astrological sign (Fierce Leo- ROAR!), but I simply don’t get all the people who don’t feel the same desire, no need to win.  The need not only to win, but to decimate your opponent, whether in a debate, a feverish game of Monopoly, a rousing episode of Jeopardy or on the track.  I not only want to win, I want to crush my opponent so there can be no doubt who the King or Queen of the Jungle is (there is that Leo again, ROAR!).  Whatever it is that gives me this irrepressible desire to obliterate, it also draws me to NASCAR.  The competition, yes, but more importantly the individual competition where at the end of the day there is a single victor proving dominance.
 
Of course my competitve nature also raises my stress level to scary levels and transforms me into a sailor many Sunday afternoons when my driver isn’t winning.  It took me a long time to accept that my guy isn’t going to win every weekend and big picture points is as important as the individual races.  I am particularly disconcerted when certain drivers are ahead of my guy:  certain drivers being drivers that my friends or co-workers root for.  It is like it is a personal competition between me and them and having their driver finish ahead of mine, is a personal defeat.  If I am at a race, and the guy in front of me is wearing a Bobby Labonte shirt, then my mission becomes to finish ahead of Labonte or whoever this poor sucker in front of me is supporting, all so that at the end of the race I can smugly think to myself “ha- I win!”  I can bask in my silent victory celebration in my own mind!  Crazy?  Probably.  Competitive and cut-throat?  Without a doubt!
 
All of this digression to set the stage for the horror I felt this weekend at Bristol when I heard Mark Martin ask his spotter to ask Kurt Busch’s spotter if Kurt would “let” Mark lead a lap to get his five bonus points, so that they could both stop racing so hard.  Well… all I can say is- never before have I said this and I never thought I would, but Kudos to the Blue Deuce for NOt accepting Mr. Martin’s offer.  From my perspective on my couch, it did not appear that Kurt was in any danger of losing the lead or running his tires off, so why on earth would he agree to such a deal.  That flies in the face of the competitive nature of the sport and is sheer madness in my opinion!  First of all, where is the competition in such an “arrangement”?!  Secondly, how much of a schmuck would Kurt look like come this summer if Mark bests him for a spot in the Chase by a few points?  Points that Kurt more or less would have given him in such a deal. 
 
Racing is about competition and dominance not sharing and taking turns- this isn’t kindergarten guys!  If you can race for the lead great- do it, if you can’t, perhaps you can steal those five bonus points with a strategy move- stay out a little longer next caution – but don’t ask to be given the points!  As one of my new favorite t-shirts says, Go! Race! Win! ROAR!