Sunday, October 17, 2010

NASCAR - An Experience In Redneck Culture

My father-in-law posing beside Jeff Gordons car.

I have never been a NASCAR fan, or a fan of any racing in general, aside from Super Mario Cart, but when my in-laws mentioned that they were going to Charlotte NC to attend a NASCAR race, I decided to tag along.  I figure I should at least experience the alter of redneck culture before I can honestly write it off as the mindless, uninspiring, boring drivel that I figured it would be. I was not disappointed.

Yours Truly and the Energizer Bunny. Note
the awesome bunny ears.
So we headed out the door around 8:30 AM and drove the 1.5 hours it takes to get to the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  We ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel, and finally arrived at the speedway at 11:00ish.  Already the tail gate parties were in full swing.  There is actually a lot to do at a NASCAR event aside from the race itself,  There were a lot of vendors selling NASCAR themed items, as well as other vendors (Spring, Energizer, Bank Of America etc.) that were advertising their products.  It is like a cross between a vendor fair at a computer convention and a county fair, but with fewer livestock.  They had games, giveaways, freebies, beer, live bands, and food.

We spent the afternoon checking things out, and loading up on the freebies.  I also discovered that the Energizer Bunny is real, which gives me greater hope for the Easter Bunny.

We found our seats in the stands a couple hours before the race began, got some amazingly crappy food, and waited for the race to begin.  It took a while but eventually the opening ceremonies started, the drivers were announced, the cars lined up, and the race began.

The view of the track from our seats.
I got to admit that the race was interesting at times.  Some of the spinouts where fun.  The first few laps as the cars jockeyed for initial position on the track and sorted out the faster from the slower was interesting.  The last 30 laps started holding some excitement as each position change became much more important to the final result.  However the middle 300 laps were completely superfluous.  A car would build up a huge 50 car length lead and appear to be uncatchable, then someone would throw a can on the track, and everyone slows down, waits for the can (seriously, a can - what kinds of wimpy drivers fear a can?) to be cleared, then they all start in formation again, completely wiping out any lead the cars had (and if the lead car makes a pit stop in that time they can lose their position completely).  It is completely goofy.

The race is on!
I spent a bit of time with my Android smart phone downloading apps to measure things.  For example I discovered that the cars were travelling at 180mph around the 1.5 mile oval track.  The sound volume off of the cars measured at 140 decibels (75 or so is when ears start taking damage).  I am glad I brought ear protection.  I also noticed that my coke bottle vibrated, which I took initially to be vibration of the cars going around the track, but the vibrations stopped when the bottle's lid was on, and started again when I took it off.  I am assuming the wind off the cars (which was considerable, even from row 56), was causing the air in the bottle to vibrate, similar to when blowing across the mouth of a bottle causes it to make sounds.

It was an interesting experience, and I am glad I went, but it is not something I am likely to do again.  I would probably do the vendor fair again, but the race itself I would pass on.  If we didn't get good prices on our scalped tickets ($33 per, for $100 seats), I would feel ripped off.  As it stands  I think I got my moneys worth for the experience of hanging out at the Redneck Mecca for a day, but it is not a world that was meant for me.

At least my car came in second!