Ask almost any NASCAR fans, and they'll tell you they fell in love with the sport the first time they attended a race. There's simply nothing else that compares to the roar of the engines, smell of burning tires on asphalt, and the incomprehensible speed as the cars pass in front of you. If burning rubber doesn't sound appealing, don't worry -- watching the race on television is a good option as well. Here are the steps to Daytona 500 and NASCAR Fandom:
- Visit the NASCAR website and pick a favorite driver. Unlike most other sports, NASCAR fans are fiercely loyal to "their driver." Having a favorite or two makes races more fun, just like any other sport. Look at the driver biographies and records and pick your favorite. Also, decide whether you like Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge or Toyota. NASCAR fans are very loyal to "their manufacturer."
- Decide whether to go to the race or watch the televised event. If you want to travel to the event, visit the Daytona 500 website. There you'll find any remaining tickets for the 500. You'll also be able to find everything from where to stay in Daytona, to the events and activities leading up to the 500, and the millions of options you'll have on your Daytona vacation. You'll have plenty of friends there, at least 200,000 of them. If no tickets remain, several websites like Stubhub.com and Tickco.com will have them, although at a premium price. Ebay will also be a good place to look. Decide whether you want to sit close to the track or higher up in the grandstand; both have advantages. If you sit close to the track, you'll get the full "speed" effect and be amazed; however, you won't see much of the race. The higher you sit the better for viewing, because you can see the full 2.5 mile track.
- Invite friends. Whether you're going to the race or going to your living room, the more the merrier. Have your friends pick their drivers and let the fun, or feud, begin.
- Learn racing terms. If phrases like, "It's pushing going in to the turn," or "We need another half round of wedge" mean nothing, and terms like camber, drag, draft, loose, happy hour, and restrictor plate are foreign, you need to educate yourself (the NASCAR site can fill you in).
Follow those tips and you'll be a pro in less time than it takes Dale Jr. to gas-n-go. Be careful, though, because you might find yourself to be a bigger fan than you'd planned.
Alan Hammond is a freelance sportswriter and the Golf Feature Writer for Suite101.com. He also maintains two blogs, Suite Golf Travel and Sportswriter HQ.