NASCAR Weekend means tailgating with cousins from Wisconsin and South Carolina - drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade - eating pulled pork - watching weird men with gray ponytails and women with pink hair - riding Vespa’s. Huh? Riding a Vespa? Yup. Son is out at PIR camping with a few ofhis closest drinking buddies and came motoring over to crash our tailgating party - and to drink our beer. So when it was race time, I hoped on the Vespa and Son drove me to the gate.
We also met a man from Spearfish, South Dakota. His hobby is to drive from NASCAR city to NASCAR city for the races while his wife stays home to work. Somebody’s got to pay for his gas. He joined us for lunch and shared a few stories. He even bought a set of my Lonnie books – what a great guy!
We also welcomed one of Son’s good friends. Andy brews his own beer. It’s quite an involved process and takes a lot of time. He says it’s a fun hobby – and he gets to enjoy his craft when it’s done. Believe it or not, this is a nice segway to how NASCAR began:
Back in the days of Prohibition, there was a lot of illegal whiskey being transported from Virginia down to Georgia. The young bootleggers who were hired to drive this moonshine raced each other to see who would get their bounty to its destination the fastest. Their black Ford Coupes looked like regular “stock” cars from dealerships, but these drivers had souped-up the engines to out-run Federal revenuers - and each other.
In 1947, Bill France, a stock-car driver, held a meeting with former moonshine runners to standardize racing rules. As a result, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) was formed. Two months later on February 15, 1948, NASCAR held its first official race on the sands of a Daytona, Florida, beach.
Here are a few more tidbits of information about today’s NASCAR:
- The pit crew consists of 8 people. They can change all four tires and fuel the car in less than 20 seconds.
- Spotters are people located in the stands at different points along the track who communicate with the drivers. This is because of the constraints of the racing seat in the cars, making it difficult for the drivers to see behind and beside them.
- Nitrogen is used in the cars’ tires because it contains less moisture than compressed air and doesn’t expand very much.
So there you have it. I hope you learned a little something about NASCAR, as racing weekend in Phoenix comes to a close Sunday night.
Take me back to home camp, Son, with your Vespa.