Saturday, June 13, 2009

Enjoying Racing on a Budget

Times are hard. They are for me, at least. Probably, most people reading this have had to cut back on expenses a little.

If you're a racing fan like me, it means it's costly to buy tickets and go see a Sprint Cup, Nationwide, or Camping World Truck series race when the NASCAR traveling show rolls into a town near you. For me, it's just too costly, period.

I do enjoy seeing live racing though. I love having my eardrums blasted until they feel like they're bleeding and inhaling exhaust fumes from engines burning racing fuel. I love smelling burned rubber and hearing sheet metal tearing and screaming in protest. I have a solution to this need for speed.

I am lucky enough to live only a mile or so from a small race track in the upstate area of South Carolina. I can hear the cars practicing on Tuesday afternoons when I'm home. They race on Friday from spring til fall. When I have an extra $10.00, I head off to Anderson Motor Speedway, in beautiful Anderson, SC for a Friday night of fun.

OK, maybe Anderson, SC isn't so beautiful, unless you just have a thing for small southern towns. I like it though, which is good, because it's been my home for the last 10 years. There are bright spots to living here though. Lake Hartwell, which can be truly beautiful, is only a few minutes away. The Blue Ridge Mountains are only a short ride away as well. Plus, I'm situated almost exactly half way between Atlanta, GA, the original big city of the south, and Charlotte, NC, which is basically the center of the NASCAR universe.

Anderson Motor Speedway itself is wonderful. It offers the best of short track racing. I sometimes travel to probably the best known track in the area, which is Greenville-Pickens Speedway, which at one time was on the old NASCAR Grand National circuit. People like Richard Petty, Ralph and Dale Earnhardt, David Pearson, and a host of others used to race here on a regular basis. Big Bill France had a hand in making GPS happen, way back in the late 1940's.

Around here, there are a lot of race tracks, but I bet that if you live in the US or Canada, chances are there is a nice short track within driving distance of you. Either paved or dirt, it's all fun. Most of these tracks only charge ten bucks or so a head, and most of them let the kids in for free. Enjoy a hot dog and a Coke. Bring your own stuff and have a tailgating party. A lot of tracks will sell you an infield pass as well, so you can be even closer to the racing.

Today's NASCAR stars all have run races at tracks like these, and in most cases got their starts in racing at short local tracks. The short track heroes you see this week might be the Cup superstars of tomorrow.

It's inexpensive, wholesome fun for the entire family, and who knows, you might meet the next Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Carl Edwards before the rest of the world knew who they were.

Support your local race track! This is where stars are born.

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