Fans of any sport are as diverse as is the world itself. On another site, I recently conducted a poll, and the responses were fascinating.
From casual watchers of races to folks that eat, breathe, and dream Nascar, the spectrum is full. Allen B. from Pennsylvania says he reads the TV schedule, so he will know when to tune in for the races. He doesn't watch Speed Channel, or any of the pre race shows. Allen just loves to watch the races. He rarely reads the racing news sites between races. Allen's favorite driver is Matt Kenseth, but years ago he was a Davey Allison fan.
Susan L. of Wyoming is a stay at home mom of 4. She reads all the sites, watches all the shows, and participates on about 5 message boards. Susan has downloaded over 4000 pictures of drivers, cars, and other racing related stuff. She collects diecasts, shirts, hats, and even a helmet or two. Her husband could not care less about racing, he prefers football. On Sundays, she and usually 2 of her kids are in her bedroom, cheering on their favorite driver, Jeff Gordon, while her husband watches a game in the living room. Susan says she didn't become a fan until 2000, when she was having a difficult pregnancy which meant she basically could do little for a couple of months but lie around and watch TV. She started watching races just for something to do. "After about 4 races, I was hooked" Susan said. She brought home her youngest daughter from the hospital wrapped in a Jeff Gordon blanket. "My husband says I'm a total fanatic, and it's true. I just can't get enough Nascar now. In the off season, I watch tapes of races that I've taped over the years, just to get by."
Jason W. of Alabama goes to as many races as he can. He's been to Talladega 12 times, Atlanta 10 times, and Darlington 6 times. He's been to Daytona once, and plans on going again in 2009. This year, Jason and his buddies are planning a road trip to Indianapolis. "I've always wanted to go to Indy" Jason says. "I always watch the Indy 500 on TV, but I'd rather see the Brickyard 400." Jason says he scans the Nascar headlines pretty much every day. He likes going to the races with his friends, who are all recovering alcoholics. "I've been in the infield at Dega quite a few times, and it's kinda scary, but it's funny. Sometimes me and my buddies are the only sober people within about a mile." Jason is a part time youth pastor, and says he never goes to the track without his Bible. "I've probably saved a few souls over the years at the race track," Jason explains. "It's just a part of my faith. I don't preach to anyone, but sometimes people are looking for help, even at the track. I'm there." Jason's favorite driver is Dale Earnhardt Jr. "I was a fan of his dad, until he died, and now I'm a Junior fan. He's the real deal, and I'm proud to be a Dale Jr. fan."
Carrie N. is in the US Army, and stationed in Europe. She doesn't get to watch all the races, but says she watches as many as she can. In the evenings, she logs onto her laptop and checks out all the racing sites and many message boards. Her husband is also stationed overseas, and Carrie says he got her watching Nascar in 2001. "My husband, who is a Master Sergeant, cried the only tears I've ever seen him cry the day Dale Earnhardt died. I was shocked, and I didn't know what could possibly hurt him so badly. I started watching the races, and now I understand" Carrie told me. "The emotions run deep with the drivers as well as the fans." Carrie is a Kevin Harvick fan. Her husband is a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan. "We pull for each other's drivers, it's all really friendly" Carrie says. "Sometimes we'll bet each other a dollar on who finishes better."
Jill H. is a college student in Oregon. She's been watching Nascar for only a couple of years, and has never been to a race. "I hope to get down to Cali sometime and see a race there. Either that or Vegas" she said. "I post on a couple of boards, and read Jayski every day. I can't believe I never knew about Nascar until I got into college. A lot of my friends kept talking about it, so I watched a race, and I was hooked." Jill's favorite driver is Kasey Kahne, but she's got a soft spot in her heart for Kyle Busch. "He's just so misunderstood. I think he's a good guy, but he just rubs people the wrong way."
Zack R. lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He says he does construction work, and every year for the last 4 years, he's saved up his money and his vacation time to make the trip to Chicago for the Nascar race. "This is my vacation every year. This is when I let my hair down and party a little. It's just a way to decompress. I love racing, and watch all the races when I can. One day, I'd like to go to Indianapolis for the Brickyard," Zack tells us. He reads ESPN and Nascar's site every day, and Jayski a couple of times a day, before he goes to work and when he gets home. His favorite driver is Tony Stewart. "Tony's just real. He's a hard charging race car driver, and I like his style."
Annette was born and lived in Kenya until she was 6, and then her parents migrated to New Jersey. Annette is not her birth name, but her Americanized name. She didn't learn to speak English until she was about 7. Annette now lives in California. "I have been to every single race at Fontana," she says. "I don't know how I got into racing, but it's an important part of my life now." Annette follows all the races, and reads all the news. "I'm a mother of 4, and a grandmother of 11, and every single one of my children and grandchildren hear more than they want to about Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr." Annette tells me. "Two of my children are Nascar fans, and about half of my grandchildren are as well. People turn their heads when they see an old black woman wearing her Dale Earnhardt Jr. jacket and hat. This year, I took one of my sons and 4 of my grandchildren to Fontana for the race. The rain was terrible, but we stayed and saw the entire race. I was not happy about Dale getting wrecked, but we all had a wonderful time."
Jimmy C. lives in South Carolina. He watches all the races, and is a Dale Jr. fan. He writes a blog. He reads all the sites every day, and goes to as many races as he can, which isn't nearly enough. He lives with 3 cats, who frequently drive him crazy, but he loves them all the same.
Jimmy C can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org