I don’t have a Southern drawl, nor do I own a pair of cutoff jean shorts. I don’t drink moonshine or Busch Light, and I don’t know any good redneck jokes. I like to travel to exotic locations, wear pencil skirts and drink bubbly. Suffice to say, I don’t fall into any of the stereotypical categories of what I had believed a NASCAR fan to be, and I certainly had never considered NASCAR to be a sport that I would enjoy… well, at least not until I attended my very first NASCAR race this past weekend in Bristol, Tennessee.
When Autotrader invited me to attend the Bass Pro Shop Night Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway, my initial reaction was, naaaaaaah, def not my scene. But, you all know that I’m an experience junkie, so after giving it some thought I changed my mind and figured why the heck not? It was something I had never done before and I figured that the weekend would provide me with some great people watching opportunities if nothing else. Off to Bristol I went (but not before watching Talladega Nights and peppering my Facebook friends with a ton of questions as to what I should expect and, more importantly, what I should wear).
So, what did I think?
Well, I’ll be d@mned… I think I’m officially a NASCAR fan! I can honestly say that I’ve never had as much fun at a sporting event as I did at the race (aside from watching my beloved Green Bay Packers play at legendary Lambeau Field, of course). Trust me, I’m
as shocked as you are way more shocked than you are about this newfound revelation.
I had an awesome time touring around Bristol attending the qualifying rounds, experiencing a pace car ride, attending the driver’s meeting and being able to watch the race from both the pit and Autotrader’s suite. Oh… and I also got to hang out with NASCAR superstar Brad Keselowski (!), but more on that later… 🙂
I learned so much I didn’t know about the sport, met some of the best die-hard fans and had an absolute blast. I’m even willing to go so far as to bet that if you attended a race you may feel the same way. Allow me to explain: Here’s my 4 reasons why you’ll be converted into a NASCAR fan after your first race… (No, really):
1. The stereotypes about NASCAR fans aren’t actually true (but the ones that do have some truth to them are ridiculously fun).
Let’s just get this one out of the way since you may have some preconceived ideas about the sport and the fans just like I (incorrectly) did. Of course you’ll find some rednecks at the race… just like you do at any other sporting event. Speaking of classy, I spent a good amount of my time at “VIP access” events and areas since I was treated to the ultimate experience by Autotrader, but I made sure to set aside plenty of time to walk through the campground and tailgating area to mix and mingle with fans and get a realistic feel of what the “normal” NASCAR experience is like.
I couldn’t help but find myself surprised by the fans I met at the race – everyone was SO darn friendly. When I found myself in a conversation with a new friend, it was never without being offered a cold beverage to beat Bristol’s heat. When I was hoofing it around the grounds and trying to sprint to the coliseum in my cowboy boots, I was offered a ride in a kind stranger’s golf cart. I was even invited inside for a tour of a super fancy RV that I was admiring!
I met fans who had traveled across the country for the race. I met fans that were young and in college, and fans that were living life to the fullest during their retirement. (These fans in particular are the ones that I can only aspire to be like one day)! I met fans who were nurses, lawyers and business executives, and I met a ton of female NASCAR fans. Perhaps the fact that surprised me the most was that I found out I have quite a few friends who are closet NASCAR fans! I won’t disclose any names, but a note to these friends: stop hiding your love and let your checkered flags fly!
NASCAR isn’t just a bunch of cars driving around in a circle. The sport is super-technical and isn’t necessarily cheap for fans to experience (do you know how much those RV’s cost!?), so the fan base isn’t just the type depicted in Talladaga Nights. Although yes, I also met fans with sayings on their t-shirts that I couldn’t possibly repeat in this post, but it was all in
good great fun)!
I loved how free-spirited and fun the fans were. Particularly, how they don’t take themselves too seriously – a motto I try to live by. Check out the guy above asking a driver to sign his “A Christmas Story” leg lamp. Seriously, does it get any better? I 100% embraced the vibe and went all in – my wardrobe was lacking camo anyways, right?
2. NASCAR is REALLY exciting!
As if watching the race from action-packed pit row wasn’t exciting enough (I was literally RIGHT in the middle of the action and got to see the drivers walk about and watch the crew work on the cars), I also got to experience a pace car ride… O.M.G. the pace car ride was INTENSE, but I loved every minute of it! Check out my video from the ride here to see what I mean.
My five pace car laps at 75-80 miles per hour gave me an incredible appreciation for what the drivers do – 500 laps at 130 miles per hour with more than 40 other cars packed on the track and just inches away from them. Whoa.
Not to mention, Bristol is a tough track – it’s only a half mile long and has super steep banking (which is basically steeper than a 3 story building is tall). It takes some serious training and skill to be a NASCAR driver!
3. Bristol Motor Speedway is an awesome place to catch a race.
Although the track is short, the stadium packs up to 165,000 people; however, despite the crowds, there’s not a bad seat in the house. Bristol is known as “The Last Great Colosseum” because the track is completely surrounded with stadium seating on all sides, meaning that even short fans (like myself) don’t have a problem seeing the action. FYI – the Roman Colosseum only held 50,000 people, so that gives you an idea of how EPIC attending a race at Bristol is. Bristol is also home to Colossus, the world’s largest outdoor, center hung, four-sided video screen.
4. NASCAR has really cool drivers, like BK.
I mentioned before that I had the opportunity to meet and interview Team Penske’s #2 driver, Brad Keselowski. If you’re a NASCAR fan you know that he needs no introduction, but allow me to indoctrinate those readers unacquainted with BK (and yes, that’s right, Brad and I are totally on a nickname basis now, thankyouverymuch).
Brad is only 33 years old and has 19 wins and 62 Top 5’s under his belt. He is a NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion and NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion (translation: he’s really good). He’s known to be competitive on the track and a boss in business (#respect), as well as a super funny and nice guy off the track who interacts a ton with his fans.
Check out the Facebook live interview I did with Brad below (you’ll want to pay especially close attention to the part where he hugged me)!
Can you believe that BK and I have so much in common? 🙂
I’m not going to lie, after meeting Brad I went full-on fan girl. I’m dying over this #2 hat that he signed for me!
4. You will have an absolute BLAST.
If you haven’t gotten the point already, NASCAR is really really fun. I had an absolute BLAST at the race. I would recommend that you trade your stilettos in for camo and cowboy boots, check out a race and have a ridiculously fun and memorable weekend like I did. From cruising the campgrounds BK style and making new friends (not to mention wading in their kiddie pools and hunkering down to help them during a water balloon fight against their campground neighbors), to hearing the super loud engines roar (bring earplugs!) and feeling the crowd’s excitement during the race, I loved every minute of the weekend… and, I’m willing to bet you would too. (Unless you hate fun. Then you’re right – you should probably just stay home). 🙂 Thanks for the awesome experience #TeamAutotrader!
Have you been to a NASCAR race? What did you think?
This post is sponsored by Autotrader; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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