Sunday, February 08, 2009

The first sign of Spring

Winter is over. The sight of racing cars on the track at Daytona, the smells of fuel and tire smoke, the roar of powerful engines and excited crowd, and the announcement, "Gentlemen, start your engines!" are all sure signs that Spring has officially arrived.

What is it about cars turning left that gives us so much a thrill? It that's all you see when you watch a race, then you will probably never be a race fan. Go ahead and watch guys standing in a field and knocking each other down, for two hours, or bounce a ball on a wooden floor for an hour, or watch men stand in a ball park and scratch their private parts for three hours, if that is your thing. You'll never understand auto racing, because your idea of auto racing is as accurate as those desciptions of football, basketball, and baseball.

Race fans don't watch cars going in circles. We watch our favorite driver thread the needle to suddenly gain three or for positions. We watch our team beat another team out of the pits during green flag pit stops. We watch our driver miraculously wend his way through a mess of spinning and crashing cars without a scratch on his own car.

We like to see a team and driver gradually improve the handling of a car throughout the race, so that near the end of a race which began with the car running near the back, our driver has a chance to win. The feeling one has everytime his or her favorite driver wins a race is as exhilerating as when a football fan's favorite team wins the Super Bowl. The difference is that a race fan's Super Bowl can happen several times during a season, rather than just once at the end of a season.

Saturday night's Bud Shootout featured a good example of what we race fans like to watch. On the final lap, twelve drivers in their cars all moved up to try to take the lead and the win at the same time. And at the end, there was only one winner.

There is always something exciting to watch during a race. For instance, I was watching to see how my favorite driver's new team performed during their racing debut. They did much better than I thought they would, when I was believing it would take a long time for that team to show any promise of success. I was wrong, and I am happy for that. Tony Stewart finished third in a very hard fought battle, showing a lot of promise at the beginning of the season for a team that was formally a perpetual back marker.

Springtime is wonderful!

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