Friday, June 3, 2011

Chillaxin' during the Friday NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at Kansas Speedway

I used to really love race cars. I loved the way they sounded. I loved the way they smelled. I loved the way their bright paint schemes gleamed in the sun. I just loved watching them.

And then somewhere along the way, I kind of lost track of what I actually loved about them. Once I quit working at the local race tracks, had a son, and found other things to occupy my time, I stopped going to the races nearly as often. 

Then it became less about the race cars themselves, and more about the circus on TV. I still watch every NASCAR Sprint Cup race every week, but now it's all about the show they present in the 40" box. It's all about sponsorships, and who is supposed to be mad at who, and all that crap that scrolls all over the top and bottom of the screen. It's about Digger, and drivers holding their babies before the race, how empty the grandstands look, and boogity, boogity, boogity.

They do a great job presenting the races on TV, and they look and sound very nice on a modern flat-panel television. But that still can't give you the rawness, the realness, the genuineness of sitting in the stands, turning your own head, and using your own eyes to interpret what's happening for yourself, instead of letting someone else paint the picture for you.

Friday, BHo and I went out and watched some Cup and Truck Series practice at Kansas Speedway, and it sort of helped re-focus what it is that I actually like about this sport.

I spent a lot of time going to races with my dad, so it's hard to describe the feeling of knowing that I'm out doing the same thing with my son now. It's very satisfying to watch him be interested in something that was always special for me.

It's fun to see how much passion he has. He cheered when Jimmie Johnson came out to practice. He booed wildly when Kyle Busch hit the track. He wants to take pictures. He wants to pose for pictures. He wants to play all the little promotional games along the midway to win swag like can coozies that he'll never look at again.

But most importantly, he wants to be out there. With me.

As I sat out there this afternoon under the warm Kansas sun, with the sights and sounds of real race cars live and in person, with the faint aroma of rubber and racing fuel in the air, and with BHo at my side, all was right with the world. There were no worries, no pressures, no concerns. It was pure serenity.

For the first time, Kansas Speedway will actually have two big NASCAR race weekends this year. This June race that will be held on Sunday is a brand-new event. The jury's still out on how well they'll be able to sell tickets for two of these shows. But if you're not running the track, it really isn't much of a concern. If you like to see fast cars running all-out, go out there and enjoy the day.

I took a few pictures of things around the race track, and you can look at them in the slideshow below. But I wasn't working very hard, so there are also a few nice track action shots that came from NASCAR's media service and Ford Media mixed in there. Those are the pictures with captions.  They're also better.  This is probably the most satisfying, most low-effort photo gallery you'll ever look at from a major NASCAR event.

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