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To Love Racing

Me, Dad, and my Brother (Martin fan) at the Texas Motor Speedway's first race. No, we aren't blind, and yes that is coffee.

My youngest and Dad (my oldest in the back) at Gateway's inaugural. Yep! It was hot, crumbled-up race track, longest race in Busch history.

Dad, Heath and Edward in front of Chris Trickle's #70 the first year in Vegas.

Heath, Dad, Edward, and Rick at Texas. The only way to go to the race. PS It's a Coke.

My Dad and I started going to the races at the State Fair when I was 10 (1959). I don't think he or I either one would ever pass up the chance to get to a track. Of course, when my boys got old enough, they started going with Dad or Grandpa. My Dad and brother are both gone now, and we sure miss 'em.

Some people may never understand. But the sound of racing engines pounds in your chest and while the engines are loud, the sound tells of a tale of power, as if you could distill the good parts of testosterone into a sound. Part of racing's appeal is the danger. There is something special about a machine at speed. Camaraderie and having a beer with the other guy are all reasons to love racing.

What makes one person a real race fan isn't what makes another person one. How long they have been a fan doesn't matter. Where they are from doesn't matter. What driver they pull for doesn't matter.

It's an attitude. Anyone that has done an infield before public facilities is a real race fan. Real race fans get to the track on Friday for Sunday's race. Heck some of them get there the week before! However, not all people who are real race fans share this trait.

Please keep the skies clear and blue and the track clean and green. Keep our beverages icy cold and our food steaming hot. Keep all the race fans upright & safe. Please keep the weather devils at bay. Most importantly oh racin' gods, please give us plenty of fender bangin', wheel rubbin', bumper bashin', paint tradin', sparks flyin', door to door, good ole fashioned racin'. And please oh mighty racin' gods, let my driver win.
The real race fan Prayer

OK ... that's enough. No more family stuff. I promise ...

Camping...The Official Hotel Of NASCAR

If you are a fan of the races, you have probably at least entertained the thought of camping out at the race with other anticipating race fans. There is something about the vibe when camping at a NASCAR race that can't be beat, especially for those die hard fans out there that are truly thrilled b y it all. Getting NASCAR tickets is one thing, but actually having the opportunity to be on the infield as the race is going on is a unique experience in itself, one that no real race fan should have to live without having experienced.

There are different types of camping that can be done at a NASCAR race. Most people have RVs that they like to camp with because they can hook them up and be able to use the water, the facilities, and have electricity in the camper. There are also camping sites for NASCAR races that do not offer hook ups at all, although many of these facilities will make other arrangements for you to dispose of your waste and get clean water. Of course, there is always the option of camping in a tent and that is often the favorite option amongst those who would rather do things simply. Whichever method of camping you choose should not be hard to accommodate.

Why Bother Camping at NASCAR Races?: Many people who travel to NASCAR don't see the point in camping, and the truth is that it is not for everyone. There are many people who make a tradition out of traveling to races like the Coca Cola 600 and the Daytona 500 and camping with a huge group of friends and associates. Then there are people who fly to town and stay in luxury suites; obviously the latter group might not appreciate the experience. There is a camaraderie to be had at camp sites that goes well with the vibrant NASCAR atmosphere.

Camping at NASCAR Is One Big Party: People choose to camp at NASCAR rather than get a room or stay at a bed and breakfast because of the type of experience it offers. It is a great way for a lot of people who are interested in one thing to get together and celebrate it. There is often drinking, cookouts, parties, games, activities-you name it, it is done at a NASCAR campout. It is a good place to bring little ones who you want to enjoy the races with you and teach them how to have some good, wholesome fun.

Where to Camp at NASCAR: Depending on what race you are attending and what track you will be at, there are several different places to camp. Some tracks allow camping on the infield only, while some tracks allow camping inside the track and outside it as well. Other places have campsites very close to the track that are designated for camping NASCAR fans as well, so the venue can change accommodations from place to place and race to race. Check with your race in advance so that you can reserve a spot, and let your friends and loved ones know in advance, especially if there is a distance to be traveled to the race itself.

Something to keep in mind about camping out at NASCAR races is that the more popular the race is and the bigger of a deal the event is, the harder it is going to be to get a space. Sometimes, they require that you reserve a camping space a year in advance or more and that is a bit too long for some people. A lot of things can change in a year, but usually the cost of reserving the space is not too much to ask to have the space reserved when demand for it is going to be so high once the event rolls around.

Camping at NASCAR takes organization. It takes planning, and most of all it takes the will to have a good time. There should only be one rule at a NASCAR camping event and it should be that non race fans and party poopers are not allowed! Think Woodstock—cooler than ‘94, but less flammable than ‘99 —its lush fields stretching as far as the eye can see, teeming with filthy, nubile revelers, loud music, and sundry intoxicants. Now slap an extra 50 or so pounds on each partier, add the deafening sound of 358-cubic-inch V8 engines, and replace the Red Hot Chili Peppers with about 40 3,500-pound automobiles whirring by at 185 miles per hour, and you’ve got Sunday during the Cup Racing season.

It’s the NASCAR party scene, and it’s fucking nuts, partiers prove that drinking and driving do mix. Every weekend encampments abound with merrymakers who’ve come to see three things: cars, crashes, and the biggest party within a thousand-mile radius. The only thing missing was us.

So, an elite cadre of party technicians ventured into the hills of Mount Pocono, Pa. for the Pennsylvania 500. The instant we set foot on the grounds of Pocono Raceway, we were offered a beer. We accepted. And the rest of the weekend was just one big car wreck…

On our first camp stop, we met several chaps from Pittsburgh, already three hours into a drinking game, and three sheets to the wind, by 10 a.m. Curtis, proprietor of a Pittsburgh-area tavern, showed off by suctioning four Busch Light beer cans to his barren head. For this, we stayed. We drank. And then, we moved on…

Next, we encountered the ladies. Unfettered by male companions, these four fast-ridin’ femmes were the crown jewels of the northeast. In fact, we couldn’t visit another site in the area without being tipped of the “four chicks without any dudes. ”

Each group of campers puts their own spin on the party concept. And if you’ve got a penchant for Pabst Blue Ribbon, Ted Nugent, and the sobering stench of racing fuel, there is a group who have got your party. They are usually equipped with their own PA system and what must have been a 12,000-watt stereo, these party radicals hosted their own belly-flop contest complete with a 10’ x 6’ inflatable pool, emcee and soundtrack. Van Halen wailed while man, woman, and child flailed, with a per-diver tonnage that would rival the mightiest ship in Uncle Sam’s fleet.

We had thought we’d seen enough to call it a day when we saw him. The most glorious sight we would encounter the entire weekend. Dan. Lovable, incoherent and holistically intoxicated Dan. Lying there. In the grass. Passed out and assed out, his nails covered in polish with lipstick to match.

Just about everybody knows a “Dan” (if you don’t, get one) —the one who provides hours of entertainment simply by being his drunken, delusional, and unintelligible self. All of England’s major kings had one. We spoke with Dan and quickly realized we’d hit the motherlode of NASCAR impropriety. “This is the vacation I work 363 days a year for. I got four beautiful children—. ” “Five, Dan, ” interjected a friend. “Screw you, ” he retorted. “That one ain’t mine. Got two daughters. One—she’s 20—she’s coming home next weekend. Beautiful girl…too bad she’s my daughter.”

Silent up until this point, our dauntless female Sue was accosted by the Unityville rebel rouser. “Show me yer tits, ” Dan uttered. Sue declined. “Well, then, take this camera, go outside and take a picture of your tits. I’ll look at ‘em later. ” With some gentle coaxing, we actually convinced Sue to return to her job. Shortly thereafter, we bid Dan and his rabble of revelers a fond farewell, replete with the munificent memories of this bastion of infield insobriety.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without a run-in with The Man. Our weekend of debauchery was aptly punctuated by our forceful removal from the premises by Pocono Raceway security—you can’t take us anywhere. So, while the NAS holes at NASCAR and Pocono Raceway can both kiss our gas cans, we’ll never forget the charitable fans that took us in and got us drunk.

NAS CARousing. Maxim [Print + Kindle] .

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