Pit Stops For the Off Season
A Diehard Fans Fixes for the Winter Blues
A true diehard NASCAR fan starts getting the racing shakes form the need for speed as soon as the checked flag falls in Homestead and wonders what they will do for the next three long months. They suck up all the sports programming and wrap-up shows for the season and then nothing. February seems so far away. The countdown begins but for me that seems so daunting. I can’t make it until February. I will surely die before then. I need a fix…..something to tide me through. So, I look for smaller shorter spaced pit stops to help me get through till February. It’s like eating. I digest racing every day for 9 months and I can’t survive with nothing to digest for 3 months so I look for things I can at least snack on. It may not be enough to fill me up or satisfy my uncontrollable hunger for a four-hour afternoon with my racing family of drivers, commentators and other fans but it will curb the overwhelming craving that arises somedays when I just have that need for the sport I love.
Of course, I usually start with the excitement and events that surround Champions Week in Las Vegas where I can at least get a glimpse of the drivers and hear stories and anecdotes of the past and upcoming season and speculation of changes that may be happening before the circuit begins its weekly parade around the country. Once all the hoopla from that is over and the Champion takes the trophy and goes home for what I know is a much-needed rest and much enjoyed time away from the rat race of the NASCAR schedule every week, it’s not so much that for us, the racing fan. The drivers know us as a corporate group…the fans but we know them individually and whether they know it or not are a part of our daily lives. We talk about them around the dinner table every night, we wonder what they do away from the track and we are invested in them and the sport. When they go away for three months we feel their absence like a family member who has gone away for a long trip with no way to communicate. We feel it. Some more than others but all diehard fans want something race related to feed their hunger.
In early December, the hunger has not gotten over whelming yet but there is the Snowball Derby that I like to watch for and get a little feel that racing goes on. It is one of the largest Late Model Stock races of the year held at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola FL. I like to keep an eye on it because some of the young, up and coming stars of the Craftsman Truck Series, the Xfinity Series and now the Monster Cup Series participate in this race. Past Champions include names like Darrell Waltrip, Donnie Allison, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott. In fact, the showing Erick Jones put on in the Snowball Derby gained the attention of Kyle Busch and has led to what is looking like a promising NASCAR career.
During the busy Christmas season, I look to watching the occasional classic races on YouTube which offers almost all the races you would ever want to watch from recent races back to the early days. It is truly enjoyable to sit down for a few hours and watch some of the greats race the way it used to be before the rules changed and technology took over and the race was still in the hands of the driver and crew chief.
Also in December and all through the year I enjoy keeping in touch with other NASCAR fans through Facebook fan groups. There are groups focused toward individual drivers or teams as well as just NASCAR racing in general. There are some groups that are better than others and you may have to search for a while to find one where you feel comfortable but they are a great way to share news, opinions and make friends with the same interests from all over the country. Give it a try. It has really helped me to get through the winter doldrums.
When Christmas comes some of us spend some time shopping for memorabilia and t-shirts for friends and family and look forward to seeing if there is a surprise or two under the tree for us. This year I was really surprised and made a big haul so that made the holidays a very happy time but after the packages are open and all the boxes and paper are cleared away that need for speed moves in again. When New Year arrives the countdown really starts with a vengeance.
In January, the teams get back to work on preparations for Speedweeks and more things are happening and the diehard fan wants to know. This is when I turn to Social Media with a vengeance. I use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up on what the drivers are doing, preparations the teams are making, crew changes and new paint schemes and sponsors as announcements are made. If you are not into social media a lot you can usually get most of the information in one of the Facebook fan groups I told you about. Just pick one for the information you are interested in. There is no limit to how many you can join.
Then in early January one of my favorite races comes along, The Chili Bowl! The Chili Bowl is the most prestigious dirt track midget race in the country and it has exploded in popularity over the last few years. It is a five-day event that takes place at the Tulsa Expo Center in Tulsa Oklahoma. There are some 300-400 drivers that come with hopes of taking home the Golden Driller as winner of The Chili Bowl. Many NASCAR stars also participate in the race like Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne, Alex Bowman and Ricky Stenhouse JR. Past Champion and NASCAR star Tony Stewart has worked for the last two years and will be working again this year to prepare the surface to offer the perfect surface for all out-racing excitement. Rico Abreu will be going for his third consecutive championship in 2017. Past champions of the event include NASCAR Champion, Tony Stewart, the late Bryan Clauson, Kevin Swindell and Dave Blaney. For both NASCAR fans and dirt fans this is a not to be missed event!!
This year we will be having the first ever Race of Champions held on American soil (not to be confused with the IROC Series). The ROC will be held Jan. 21-22 with some of the greatest drivers in the world from all disciplines of racing. This year it will take place in Miami FL at Miami Marlins Park. Some of the competitors include the Busch Brothers, Kurt and Kyle, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Scott Speed, Travis Pastrana and Juan Pablo Montoya. On the First day the individual ROC Champion will be decided and the second day will be for the Team Championship.
Other little tidbits you might enjoy are……
- Fan Appreciation Day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte on Jan. 21
- NASCAR LIVE Radio Program on Tuesday nights at 7:00 PM to keep up with the latest news and weekly guests.
- Sirius XM NASCAR Radio that has a wide variety of NASCAR programming throughout the year.
- Also check out Jayski’s Silly Season webpage for any current scheduled driver appearances and the latest news, rumors and everything NASCAR
Well for this diehard fan that’s pretty much how I feed my hunger through the off season with these little pit stops for a short splash of fuel to make it to the next little dash leading up to Speedweeks.
Have I missed anything? Tell us how you get through the long winter months. We’d love to hear from you and see how creative you are in fulfilling your need for speed. The countdown is on! Hibernation is half over, that hunger for speed needs to be fed!!