NASCAR Fans: Gotta Love 'Em!
Normally when one talks about the best places to people watch certain venues are a must, such as airports, malls and the ever most popular Wal-Mart. Well, I must say the absolute greatest place to people watch is a NASCAR race. NASCAR races have quite an eclectic variety of people. So here is the good, the bad and the ugly. Don't let that last sentence sway you from reading the rest of this article. The “ugly” just may surprise you. This is for the FANS!
For those who believe that NASCAR is just one big huge commercial for sponsors, on some level you are correct. You will hear drivers drivel off their sponsors before they finally get out of robotic mode and become themselves. However, the NASCAR fans that I like to call “The Posers” fall into this category. These are the employees of said sponsors, usually the Big Guns, the CEO's, the “We have tickets to a NASCAR race because we have been told we must go by the boss” peeps. They have the undeserved Hot Passes and can’t name more than 2 drivers not including the one their company sponsors unless it is Dale Jr. or Jimmy Johnson. They MAYBE watch the race from the exclusive lounge on the track premises. We should give them props for that, right? Uh..HELL NO! Others that fall into this category are celebrities and politicians that are NOT NASCAR fans, yet they need to make an appearance to promote themselves in some capacity. Just stay home. Seriously, we can spot you a mile away and we are not impressed. These are “The Ugly” They DONT deserve a picture!
There are two subtypes of Newbie NASCAR fans. Those that are “Born into it” and get it and the brand spanking new NASCAR fan that tend to know NASCAR from a very “PC” level. The born into it are my favorite to watch as they show up for their first race all decked out in minimal swag and are trying to become a part of the culture. They truly love the sport as they have learned by their family. They are like watching a 5 year old visiting Disney World for the first time. Excited and in awe. They don’t care who wins the race because they are so damn happy they are finally attending one.
Ah, the other category of “newbie”. The Politically Correct NASCAR fans. They are this way because only in the past 7-10 years has NASCAR really tried to be “PC” (How is that working out for you NASCAR?) PC's don’t want my drivers near your drivers. They don’t like confrontation and they want everyone to “play nice”. It’s not their fault, it’s all they know. They haven’t experienced the “Old School” type of driving or behavior, so when a driver actually brings us back to the 70's, they are confused and typically rear their distaste at the track, on social media, etc...”Why did Harvick take out my Joey? It’s just not fair, he should be banned – blah blah blah blah blah” My advice to the PC. Go on YouTube and search for Dale Earnhardt (NOT JR).Watch some highlights of real intimidating racing. You just might change your mind and get off the PC pedestal.
The Die-Hard NASCAR fans are the most enjoyable to watch. They are loud and boisterous with their opinions and with the loyalty of their drivers. Their races are an annual event. They show up on Thursday and camp out until late Sunday night or early Monday morning, if cash flow allows. They NEVER miss a race on TV. Their DVRs are set for the season. They have as much swag as they can afford. They will stand in line for hours to get that coveted autograph or picture of their drivers.
NASCAR LOVES these fans as they are the demographic that will keep things going. As long as the Credit and Debit cards are being used for NASCAR related purchases all is well. The one thing NASCAR has to worry about is pissing these fans off and they have (SEE PC FANS). NASCAR, if you want to get a hold of their money, then you need to cater to this fan as much as possible.
Now, on to the most misunderstood and most picked on NASCAR fan: The Old School Fans. These are fans that remember the days of bumping and running. They remember every race, every crash, every event and every driver. They don’t give a crap about what you think about them. They have been called racist, rednecks and white trash.
SIDE NOTE: I would like to say that on behalf of ALL women...Men, we love ya BUT the mullet has to go!
Most Old School fans are fed up with Brian France and the watered down sport. I believe this demographic is where NASCAR has lost most of its revenue. It is NOT because we are dying off, it’s because we don’t recognize our sport anymore. It’s the chase format, the new rules every damn year, and the drivers trying to look like the cover of GQ rather than NASCAR Illustrated.
We miss the days of fighting, cussing and throwing a punch or two. Wow, it really was SO MUCH FUN! I swear to you, it was. You just knew when Rusty would be running over to Earnhardt's pit to finish something one of them started. The camera men start running to keep up and it’s a blessed mess of a great time. Sometimes it happens and we chuckle and usually say “Well if that were Cale, he would have …..” or try and remind Mr. Darrell Waltrip that he was not always Mr. Peaches and Cream with a halo above his head! Right, Mr. Boogity? You and Mr. Earnhardt had a few choice words for each other back in the day. We remember.
We also get a kick out of these pics that we come across from time to time! Come on, it’s funny!
There is one last fan that I cannot leave out and that is the “What what?” Fan. These are the fans you see at a race or anywhere for that matter that has a T-Shirt or Hat of a Driver that just puzzles you. Admit it, you have done this! You have seen these fans and thought “Wow, I didn’t know Montoya had fans” or “Whoa, that guy had a Dinger Hat!” They DO exist and it’s great for the drivers and the sport. Not everyone has to be a superstar.
I love NASCAR fans. With a little help, we will guide the PC’ers, keep the good and wouldn’t it be nice if we could get rid of the ugly?