Saturday, February 6, 2010

Racing Returns

I've been a NASCAR/racing fan for a little over 10 years now. It all started when my husband began watching, but I couldn't stand it. However, after being "forced" to watch it enough, I decided to pick a driver so at least I'd have someone to root for. I picked Mark Martin, and I picked him because I found a plastic "doll" of his and recognized his name, so I thought, "I'll pick him." I didn't know it at the time, but it ended up being a great choice. It didn't take me long to become a big fan. Some may have said I was obsessed. Po-ta-toe/Po-ta-tah.

About seven years ago, I joined the website "Frontstretch.com" as a writer, writing about NASCAR. At that time, my dream was to work in NASCAR, preferrably in PR. For me, The Frontstretch was a good starting point. It ended up being an awesome experience. My first season, I went with the site's owner to Texas Motor Speedway and spent the weekend hanging out in the media center. As a race fan, it was beyond cool!
Later that year, I got credentials to the Truck Series race at the Kansas Speedway. Unfortunately, the only access the credentials gave me were to the garage. I couldn't get into the media center, just the garage. Sounds great...get to walk around, watch the cars, see the drivers, and make all the fans staring through the fence jealous. But there was one problem. It was July, and it was HOT. And there are no concessions stands in the garage. But I was very lucky. I had made friends with the PR gal for driver Brendan Gaughan (she actually had to help me get the credentials), and she and the team took pity on me, so I got to spend the weekend cooling off and refreshing in their hauler. And they couldn't have been nicer, especially the driver, Brendan Gaughan.

In the years that I wrote for The Frontstretch, I got media credentials for the Kansas Speedway (several races), Texas Motor Speedway (two races) and Gateway Raceway (St. Louis, MO; about three races); got to sit with all the media goobs (who were usually fun) in the media center, watch driver press conferences, cruise the garage, and watch races from pit road. I even got to hang out in Victory Lane a couple of times, with David Starr and Brendan Gaughan, both in the Truck Series. The best part -- especially for the race fan in me -- was that I got to interview several drivers, both in person and on the phone. That list includes (currently in the series list, but may have been in a different series at the time): Truck Series drivers - David Starr (my personal favorite), Johnny Sauter; Nationwide Series drivers - Terry Cook, Brendan Gaughan, Jason Keller, Kenny Wallace; Cup Series drivers: Kasey Kahne, David Gilliland, Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers; drivers that are in between or not yet big names: Mike Wallace, Scott Riggs, Scott Wimmer, David Stremme; and racing personalities Rick Allen and Bob Dillner, both of SPEED TV. I know there are more, but for the life of me I can't remember them. I'm getting old.

I had a lot of great experiences and had big dreams of joining that group everyday as a PR rep, or just covering the series somehow. But then, a crazy thing happened. I had Emily. Suddenly my priorities and my dreams totally changed. Life on the NASCAR circuit, especially the constant traveling, no longer interested me. I used to think I couldn't imagine not wanting to be involved in NASCAR, but now I can't imagine not seeing my babies every day. While being a secretary isn't my dream job, and I hope one day to find it, being a mom is my dream, and I wouldn't change that for anything.

But I also had the opportunity to do things some NASCAR fans never ever get to experience, and for that I feel extremely lucky! After writing for Frontstretch for several years, and after deciding that my career probably wasn't going to involve NASCAR, I've lessened my role at the site in the last few years. For about the last two, my only real involvement has been helping to facilitate the David Starr Driver Diary (I would call and interview him once a month, turn his answers into an article, and run it by him for approval), and that was ok with me. However, following the 2009 season, the powers-that-be at The Frontstretch and myself decided that after five years (or something like that) the Starr Diary had probably run its course, so we ended things, and that officially ended my relationship with The Frontstretch.

I think I've kind of veered off course from where this whole thing started... Oh yeah. So after a few months off, the racing season starts tonight with the Shootout. For the last few weeks, I haven't really been looking forward to racing season again. It's a really long season, and the last few years I've kind of been a little bored by the end of the season, and not really ready for it when it starts. So when it finally hit me two weeks ago that racing was right around the corner, I wasn't very excited.

But this morning I watched Daytona qualifying, and right now I'm watching the ARCA race. Apparently, all it takes is the sound of those engines to bring back the excitement!! So I'm writing to say, I'm ready for some racing!! And please, let's have someone other than Jimmy Johnson win the championship! : )

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