I’ve been giving some thought to NASCAR fans. Of course, all sports have their diehard fans. Who hasn’t seen the nutbar football fans, who attend games in sub-zero weather, bare-chested and painted up in Vikings purple or Detroit blue as they pump their frostbitten fists in the air and screams like banshees? Certainly, they are extreme examples of football fans who show up and, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, root for their team.
NASCAR fans, at least what I saw of them, are different. They don’t root for a team; they come to cheer on their chosen paladins – their champions. Their champions dress the part, what with their elaborately adorned twenty-first century suits of Nomex armor and headgear that any Knight of the Round Table would envy. On race day, the champions mount their garishly decorated, high performance steeds to do battle with other NASCAR Knights. And, their fans are positively captivated by it all.
One particular lady comes to mind.
Take a look at the photograph of the Dover International Speedway up there, focusing on the grandstand on the left side of the picture (blurry, I know). I was sitting in the center of the grandstand, way up there — approximately a dozen rows from the top. The lady in question was sitting a mere four rows or so in front of me. She wasn’t exactly the picture of a “fair maiden”, as she was not too far south of middle age and, like many of us mortals, could stand to spend a tad more time at the salad bar.
Her paladin was Tony Stewart.
How do I know this? The tip off was her Tony Stewart hat, Tony Stewart tee shirt, Tony Stewart ticket holder lanyard and her Tony Stewart seat cushion.
Now, take another look at the picture and try to imagine where this lady was sitting. Got it?
Her deal was that about every five or ten laps of the four hundred lap race, she would stand and wave at Tony Stewart’s car as it zoomed through the turn. I would love to have asked her, “Yo, lady. Do you think Tony Stewart can pick you out in the grandstand as he drives around the turn at something like 100 miles per hour, three inches behind the car in front of him, and both his car and the car in front of him are in a pack of 43 similarly speeding cars? Do you expect him to wave back?”
Of course, had I asked such a snot-nosey question, she would have instantly recognized me to be a rookie NASCAR fan. I figure she also might have strangled me with her Tony Stewart ticket holder lanyard.