The aroma of racing fuel and burning rubber. The deafening song of a motor revving 9,000 rpms. The sight of four-wheeled missiles flashing by in a streak of light. For a racing fan, its an addiction and a need for speed that is never permanently satisfied, and it keeps them coming back for more.
The loyalty of a NASCAR fan is more fierce than a mama bear defending her cubs. There may be unrest, angst and frustration concerning the state of affairs in the sport. It is not uncommon to hear complaints regarding the quality of the racing, the seeming lack of consistency in policy enforcement, a perception that the governing body’s leadership can be bought for the right price, and that those who have invested so much in the meteoric growth of NASCAR are unappreciated and unwanted.
It begs the question: why would fans so frustrated keep on keeping on? Why not walk away? That question was posed to a fan named Tim recently, to which he answered, “If racing is in your blood, you’re going to watch, right? Wanting to make it better doesn’t mean you don’t love the sport.” Like a bad habit, the tried and true fan can’t shake it; they keep coming back for more, even if the sport behaves like a fickle girlfriend in an unhealthy relationship. Though she’s wounded you, you stick it out, in hopes that undying affection will be rewarded
Along with the hope there is a better day dawning- hopefully sooner, rather than later- is a sense of community, no, more like a sense of family a glue that holds fans together. It doesn’t matter whether you’re blue collar or white collar, or whether you live in Athens, Georgia or Athens, Ohio. Differing paths may have brought you to the track, but there’s that little “us against the world” feeling that has racing enthusiasts of varying stripes banding together for a shared experience.
It doesn’t matter if you root for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon, there’s that feeling of all being in it together. It is why fans flock to the message boards, making their voices heard, venting, hoping, praying that someone out there with the power to change things may be inclined to hear their plea. That somehow, NASCAR’s leadership would recognize that much of a new fan base they had pursued has come…….and gone, and through thick and thin, those that appreciated a rougher hewn, less sophisticated NASCAR have rode out the storm and have been the keepers of the flame through it all.
There’s no denying the world has changed and the cars have as well since the days of moonshine runners tooling around the track for fun. The thrill of two speedsters, side by side, jockeying for position, is as timeless as the first foot race when Cain no doubt wanted to test Abel to see who could cover a prescribed distance faster.
In a sense, it’s like former President Bill Clinton said “Mend it, don’t end it.” Here’s hoping that those who lead NASCAR remember what Zig Ziegler once said “If you give people what they want, you’ll get what you want.” The natives of NASCAR Nation may be restless, but they haven’t denounced their citizenship.