Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My Hobby is NASCAR!

By Christina VanGinkel

If I ever wondered if watching a sport on television qualified as a hobby, I no longer doubt it one bit. NASCAR has always been a favorite around our house, with each member of the family having a favorite driver, and talks about the many different drivers and teams in both NASCAR and the Busch series a regular event. Among us, we have Dale Jarrett caps and license plate holders, Dale Earnhardt Jr. T-shirt, shorts, and tank tops, bumper stickers proclaiming Michael Waltrip as 'my' favorite, and window decals announcing the numbers of different favorite's cars, a blanket sporting some of the same, and now a whole stack of snapshots taken at the Texas Motor Speedway last Sunday!

When my thirteen year old flew out to Texas last Saturday to visit his Aunt and Uncle, he was surprised with a ticket to the NASCAR race the very next day. To say that he was thrilled would be putting it about as mildly as one could. He was ecstatic! He also took a ton of photos that will fill a scrapbook and then some, so that he will forever have vivid memories of the day. My brother surprised him with this of all events, because he knows what a huge fan of NASCAR my son is. Even though they live over a thousand miles away, they routinely discuss who is doing what in the world of NASCAR. It transgresses the ages, and is a communal ground for every family member, no matter his or her age. Even my two-year-old grandson tells us that his car, the 'red' car, is going to win, when we are all together watching a race.

When a hobby is as all encompassing as NASCAR can be, some people may wonder why others become so obsessed that they fill their homes with novelties related to the hobby, wear clothing emblazoned with aspects of it, even travel hundred, even thousands of miles to participate in an event. People engage in hobbies for all sorts of reasons, but oftentimes, when it is a hobby as popular as NASCAR, it is just as often for various reasons. It provides something other than the hectic day-to-day life dealings to think about. It provides something fun for family members and friends to talk about and participate in directly, or indirectly together. Heck, it even provides choices for decorating a bedroom, family room, or any room for that matter.

One of my favorite monikers is that you should not knock something you have not tried yourself, especially where hobbies are concerned. It is often hard to understand what the draw to so many others is, if you do not know anything about the sport itself. NASCAR is a perfect example of this. For years, even though I lived in a house where a huge NASCAR fan (my husband) resided, I could not understand the fascination. Then, by chance one afternoon, as I was recovering from a minor surgery, I ended up watching a race with my husband. I have been a fan ever since. Last year, when they came out with a show about the lives of the drivers, which included clips of them with their wives and girlfriends, tours of their homes, and even a look at what they do outside of racing, I was hooked even more. This showed that the drivers are as real as you and I. Though they most assuredly have a bigger bottom line in their checkbook, they are still people. In addition, as such, this might be the biggest draw to so many NASCAR fans, that many of the drivers had humble beginnings, and still head to their family's homes for the holidays, and strive to raise their own families like upstanding, solid citizens.

If you have always wondered what the heck all the NASCAR fuss was about, you should take the time to watch a race, maybe browse the website dedicated to NASCAR. You might still not understand it; then again, you might come away as big a fan as I am. Now if I can just convince my husband that next year we should go to the Texas Motor Speedway so we can take a few photos to fill a scrapbook of our own, I will have it made!

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