Phases & Memories = Good Old Days By An Older Fan
Author's Note: My articles are based solely on my thoughts and observations, normally without statistics. In the following article I chronicle my thoughts of being involved in and being a fan of the sport of auto racing, which I have loved since Jr High School. As I feel I am not alone in my feelings, I group some of us together and sometimes refer to the older fan as we rather than just I.
As you read the following, please keep in mind that I am not a philosopher or analyst, but generally take a philosophical view of things that interest me. I like talking about and expressing my views on what I think others sometimes think or feel. I then try to put those feelings into words that may attract someone's attention and hope they can relate to my thoughts.
Phase 1. In the mid 1950's as a teenager, living in a small town on the outskirts of Orlando and about 60 miles from Daytona Beach, the news of a large speedway being built that close to me was exciting. Some of us teenagers were already addicted to high speeds and fast cars. In 1959, a group of us got together, pooled our money and fit as many as we could into a car and took off to Daytona for the track and the big race that would be run at this new facility. Not knowing what to do once we got there, we just followed other cars and parked in the infield. What fun we had that day. It was amazing that we saw cars and people from many states and we vowed to return the following year.
Phase 2. Several years passed and we continued to make the trek to Daytona each February for the big race. We finally graduated from high school and entered the work world. There we met new people and started new memories. We began drifting apart and lost touch with our first race buddies. During this time, I was fortunate and became friends with people involved in racing. I worked during the day at an auto dealership and on Friday nights at the local race track. My addiction and knowledge of auto racing increased and I spent many hours enjoying the sport. My love of auto racing grew and I got to attend the first 24 hour race at Daytona. That is a highlight in my treasure trove of memories. For many years, traditions which involved planning all other activities around race schedules took precedence over everything else. For me, this is one period of my life that I refer to as the 'Good Old Days'. Little did I know then, there would be many more of those type of days.
Phase 3. Lives change so most people lose and attain different interests throughout the years. We re-locate and get different jobs, make new friends, eventually get married and family becomes more important. Finally, the high speeds addiction takes over again. We build our own race car and start racing in several states at venues from 10 to 200 miles away. Soon the toll of the cost and time takes us back to only attending local races within our travel and monetary budgets. By now we can watch the big races on TV if home, and if traveling, then the radio fills that need. We read all we can find about the professional circuits and try to find all the information we can in weekly or monthly racing publications or the newspapers. Life is good for the middle-aged and it seems the prior 'Good Old Days' have been replaced by the newest 'Good Old Days'.
Phase 4. Now we are past middle age and once again we have changed. But so has technology as has our favorite sport of auto racing. The cars are no longer stock cars, but cars we don't immediately recognize. They all seem to look alike except for the grill, light designs and sponsor colors. The cars are no longer painted, but wrapped in pre-designed car size wraps that seem to be more like one huge decal with many small decals spotlighted. The sponsors have the most say in how the cars will be presented for each race and at each track. We smile as we fondly remember when STP and Petty Blue was new to racing, which makes us wonder how things have come so far while changing so much in this sport we love. I have always used the phrase "You are what you were when" in describing why we hang on to traditions. That is when we sadly shake our head at all the changes because we finally realize and recognize the fact that we are losing a big part of what made us who and what we are. More and more we think about what we thought were the 'Good Old Days'.
Phase 5. The years continue to pass and time rolls on. We retire and plan to live our final phase of life enjoying what we love most, from family and traveling to auto races. We start out gung ho, but soon our age and bodies tell us we cannot do all we had planned to do once we were out of the work force. Since most of us cannot attend races at all the tracks we had on our bucket list for varying reasons, we become computer experts on reading and writing about our sport. We resort to watching all races on TV and then talking on line with others who feel the same as us about racing. Social media plays a big part for some of us and we make friends with other race fans on Facebook, Twitter and of course, through specific sites on the internet. We somehow have turned into backseat drivers and have become what we think are experts on auto racing. We finally realize we have grown old and our sport has changed so much we hardly recognize it anymore. We miss our drivers of the past eras and wonder why the new ones are so different. We start looking forward to seeing what our newest and youngest drivers will accomplish on the track. We voice our opinions about who we think will be successful and who may not. We choose new favorites to cheer for. We also look at the younger fans and hope some of our history and memories will play a part in building their love of the sport. We also hope they will pass our memories along to the next generation, just as we have passed some of the memories down to them.
A lot of people seem to think that when the older generation talks about the way things used to be in what we call the "Good Old Days", they wish it was still that way or that they could go back in time to those days. That is very, very untrue. We only want our legacy and the history of our time on this earth to be remembered, so we pass our memories on in hopes all following generations will enjoy the history and pass it along to the future generations.
Thank you for reading. I would enjoy hearing about your phases and good old days. Your comments are welcome and will be appreciated, or you may email me. Meanwhile, please enjoy the following.