Sunday, October 07, 2007

Today at Talladega................

Talladega. The name signifies speed. Talladega Superspeedway. It had been five years since I had been to a Nascar race there. I never thought I would be back. Five years ago the traffic mayhem and vast number of inebriated rednecks all trying to drive out at the same time gave me shivers. With kids, that situation only magnified. I wanted no part of it, especially the 100 minute wait to get on the freeway and head to Atlanta after the race.

I have to say, they have cleaned it up. Alot. The number of drunks was down big time. The number of fans cheering Dale Earnhardt Jr. remained the same. In some ways, things haven't changed. Oncologists in Alabama must have more than Ft. Knox stashed away. The tobacco consumption doesn't look to be down.

Race tickets came via a good client with a major corporation. It is my youngest sons 11th birthday tomorrow so the tickets came in handy. His favorite driver is Jimmie Johnson, in the #48 car. Nascar racing and other sports have many similiarities. What you fight against all day is "bad" air. How you win is with "good" air. Either way, no one can see the air, only it's effect. Today's race was decided in the last 600 yards. Not a bad finish after 188 laps and 500 miles. Almost like a professional basketball game when the offense kicks it in over the last few minutes. Last shot wins so to speak in the big oval track as well.

Today, Jimmie Johnson finished second to Jeff Gordon. Both drivers spent about 475 miles near the back of the pack, avoing wrecks and biding their time. Their experience showed. Like a great mature tennis player they didn't try to overpower their opponents. They played the game, fought off all comers and rallied at the end to finish first and second.

It really is a team effort. The amount of practice and coaching that go into a world-class racing pit crew is similiar to a pro football team. The schooling, practice, physical conditioning and attitude can and do make the difference. It isn't just the driver. Nanoseconds can make a big difference at 195 miles per hour.

Nascar has figured it out with massive video display screens in front of the grandstands and excellent camera work. Replays were outstanding. No one was injured today and that in itself is probably a miracle. Week in week out, Nascar drivers don't have much room for error at superspeedway speeds. They probably feel safer on the track racing amongst themselves than being on a freeway with the general public.

I have to say, I hate paying taxes. The AMT killed me last year and will kill me this year. One of the things I do NOT mind paying taxes for is to watch the speed and grace of a formation of F-14 Tomcat fighter jets scream overhead in a passing salute at the finale of our National Anthem to start the race Maybe you just have to be there amongst over 200,000 screaming Nascar fans and feel the rumble and vibration of the afterburners as they turn straight up a mile and scream out of there like swallows in the wind. If that isn't enough the sound and fury of 43 cars coming down the stretch to start things off is like nothing most Americans have ever experienced. Maybe you think Nascar is fairly redneck and dull to watch guys race in a circle. Saying that, your experience is probably only of watching Nascar racing on television. I suggest you take a day out of your busy life and give a day of racing a chance to pump some life back into you. It was a beautiful day to spend with a healthy son who turns 11 tomorrow. It has been a great race so far teaching him about the game of life. Thank you Talladega!

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