There are very few things that I am truly passionate about. I have many interests, which are broad-reaching and eclectic, but very few that I truly don’t think I could live without. College Football and music are obvious ones to anyone who knows me or follows my twitter accounts. I get hot headed about environmental issues and human rights issues as well. But, there is one that came into my life about 15 years ago, held steady, and has taken over in the memory warehouse. It’s a sport I whole heartedly used to make fun of: NASCAR.
I started watching NASCAR in 1999, the last race of the season, at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Forgive me on calling these tracks by their old names; it’s just how I memorized them). It was because a couple of awesome girls wanted to watch the race and ….well….girls. One race was all it took. I was immediately hooked. It just so happened that it came around the same time I got my first computer and internet account: 56K Modem bitches! I researched every damned thing about NASCAR on the web, bought books (real books from a bookstore), read magazine articles, newspaper articles, and anything else I could retrieve about the world of stock car racing.
I found that I actually loved racing, period. Indy, F1, Moto GP, Moto X, boats, cans floating down a ditch. I seriously bet a buddy a bottle of Natty Lite, whilst drinking and driving in the Robert Brent State Forrest that a Coors can was going to beat a Busch can to the drain pipe. And I won; Coors cans are slim and move quickly in water, unlike bulky Busch cans. This was an example of the science of NASCAR. Ahem.
It also just so happened that Dale Earnhardt’s son was about to run his first year in Winston Cup. I didn’t have a driver, as I was still learning and studying. But, I liked Little E, insofar as one can like a man by reading magazine interviews. As pre-season moved along, I found that even though I wasn’t really an Earnhardt fan (he was too countrified), I didn’t like 24 either because he was a pu$$y. I liked Stewart a little. To this day, I love Smoke still. But I didn’t have a driver.
But, then the green flag waved at Daytona in 2000 and that red #8 was all I saw. I was a Dale Jr. fan straight out of the gate, so to speak. We were even born in the same month of the same year. And his car was Georgia Bulldog colors to boot. He finished 14th I think, took a tongue lashing from his car owner/father after the race, and left the track with his tail tucked. But, I had found myself a damned driver, by God.
Each week, I watched with baited breath, wanting him to win. Begging him to win. Praying for a win. Then they went to Texas Motor Speedway. It’s a 1.5 mile “cookie cutter” track and holy balls it is FAST. It also has the best trophies, and lot lizards from what I’ve read, but I digress.
Tony Eury Sr. gave Dale Jr. a car that weekend that was out of this world. There was no competition for him on the track; NONE. Within five laps of each restart, that Budweiser #8 was 30 car lengths from second place. All. Damn. Day. I don’t really recall another car or race that even comes close to that race as far as the disparity in the cars was concerned. He had no competition on that racetrack. I started pacing the living room with fifty laps to go and chugging beer like a champ. I think I downed an entire six pack during those last fifty. By the time the checkered flag waived, I was trashed, and “we” had won a damned race!
Junior and I have had a tumultuous fifteen years. There were lots of wins, lots of losses, lots of wrecks, lots of crew chiefs, teammates, and different car owners. I went weeks without speaking to him when he signed with HMS. But, then I realized I was being a girl, and when he won the 125 at Daytona that first year at HMS, I was as happy as one fan could be.
Now, “we” are forty. “We” are settled down. And “we” are winning races again and finishing races and doing damn good by comparison to some of “our” earlier years. I no longer hate Jeff Gordon. I miss Dale Earnhardt every Sunday. I wait with my breath held every post-race to see what Smoke’s going to say about how shitty NASCAR or Goodyear is. Life is good.
Lastly, just guess where NASCAR is headed this weekend? Yep. Texas. The site of “our” first victory in Cup racing, fifteen years ago. The year has been pretty “eh” so far for Junior, but I have faith. I have faith that he can follow up that year 2000 performance with another win Sunday. It will be a sort of “anniversary” gift to “us”.
I’ve never actually spoken to Dale Jr. at all, but if I ever get to, it’s going to be epic. I promise he is the only man that will ever get me all bothered just by his sheer presence. And I’m destined to be his favorite lesbian, ever.