Sunday, July 15, 2007

Racing Prejudice

I have been prejudiced. Up until yesterday, I thought Nascar racing was for those with a slight mental challenge... dozens of cars with bright stickers on them going around and around in circles for hours. And on top of it, you had to have a proud mullet ["proud mullet" (noun): a mullet that is proudly on display due to it's distinguished length and thickness; not a small or thin mullet], wear tight jeans with chew in the rear pocket, an excessively large belt buckle, and sport the ugliest sticker infested hat, while yelling your favorite driver's name at random times through out the day. How short-sighted I have been.

Yesterday I took Kenneth to the Daytona 500 Experience for his birthday. It is a museum and Imax theater giving visitor's a behind the scenes, in depth look at the Nascar organization and teams. Before your jaw hits the floor over disbelief at my brashness to cross such defined racial and cultural boundaries, let me assure you we are used to being in unaccepting situations. And recently, Kenneth's curiosity had been peaked in the sport (yes, I called it a sport). After all it is in fact the largest spectator sport in the world. Yes, fact.

It was fascinating. All the time and effort put into creating these cars is amazing. The scientific preparation that the engineers use to build these 600 horse power machines is so intricate. The team work needed to win is incredible. The numerous mind-numbing strategies and moves taken on the race track to drive through and win a race was unbelievable. And the fans really are more diverse than I ever would have thought. In our tour group of 30 or so, at any given moment, you would hear English, Spanish, and (something like) Chinese spoken by the visitors. And our tour group was almost half black. But the most amazing thing was standing on the side of the track fence while two Nascar race cars came ROARING--and I do mean roaring, thundering, and everything loud you can think of--past us at 180 miles an hour. It made the ground shake, it made the railings quiver and it sent a rush up my spine. Kenneth just grinned and said "I'm hooked!" The Daytona 500 track was enormous and intimidating. It has 31 degree turns. You can't even stand upright on a 31 degree angle. And they drive the turns at 160. Six inches from each other.

Needless to say, I have a much greater respect for a sport that takes a lot of planning, intelligence, teamwork, heart, and just plain balls. I can actually sit and watch a portion of a race right now and be entertained and interested--because I know what's going on. But no...don't worry...I will not be buying any loud sticker infested hat or shirt, and I will not be screaming a drivers name out my car window with a loud "whoo hoo" after it. At time soon.

"Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among rocks.
-Charlotte Bronte"

1 comment:

valerie said...

I really like what you wrote here, it's very well said. A lot of us think as you did. From what you told me it sounds fun. What a neat experience, great time and life lesson all in one.