“We are fans of varsity, not junior varsity.”
I was chatting with a friend of mine when the above exchange took place. Let me back up in time a few moments to understand the conversation.
We were using an instant messenger method of talking on a social media web site. She and my wife are buddies and that friendship grew to included her husband and myself. We talk about anything in the world from politics, to television shows, and eventually auto racing comes up.
In my near lifetime of following and being involved in the sport I can usually tell how much a person knows about motorsports very early in a conversation. There are subtleties in a person’s language that give away quite a bit.
“How is that Danica chick doing?” is a dead giveaway. Danica Patrick has made a lot of news headlines in the early part of this year from her foray into stock car racing. More people have heard of her now than have a year ago. But to ones with their ear to the ground in the racing world she is not “That Danica chick.”
Patrick’s current Indy Racing League career has witnessed the recent NASCAR toe dipping. She has five full time years in the IRL, previously drove in the Formula Ford series, and the World Karting Association. Real racers know this and Patrick’s name is not new to motorsports.
Well, my friend and I were chatting about a recent NASCAR national touring series weekend and Patrick’s name was brought up. I had to explain what division she was competing in and then asked if she had watched the Nationwide Series race. To which, I was replied with this article’s opening quote.
It is something I experience in racing but do not understand. The same demographic is excited to have garage passes, access to a suite, and proclaim themselves as race fans. But I cannot track down an instance where they spend their money on race tickets strictly for the entertainment value, in any class of car.
If you only watch a Cup Series race you seem like a snob to me. And more so if you will only attend if you are catered to and want to rub elbows in the driver’s meeting. Real race fans will watch real racing.
If there is a late model special at a local dirt track on a summertime Wednesday night, a race fan will be there. They understand the value of supporting their area grassroots short track. They also understand the value of watching an IRL race from Texas, a Truck Series race from Dover, and a midget race from Belleville. It is called racing.
All racing impresses me. From Cup’s “Varsity” to Nationwide’s “J.V.” I see the value in all of it. Any kind of driver that has the courage to suit up, buckle up, and head out onto any type of racetrack for legitimate competition has earned a degree of my respect.
Pay attention when the self-proclaimed race fans starts bragging about their love of the sport. If you listen carefully enough you can hear all about that time they visited some Driving Experience and “drove one of them nascars.”
(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR mechanic who co-hosts the One and Done auto racing radio talk show Tuesdays at 11am ET. Listen at www.wsicweb.com)