Watkins Glen International: Why NASCAR fans have the most fun

Impossibly fast.

With a revolving mixture of amusement and awe, those two words became a chorus in my head, going off like clockwork as each lap unraveled and 43 of the world’s best NASCAR drivers roared past the finish line and screamed into turn 1.

I was leaning against the railing of Zippo’s viewer-friendly suite in Watkins Glen, New York, for the annual NASCAR event that consistently draws tens of thousands of gung-ho fans. Aside from checking out Zippo’s current endeavors (which are stellar) and cataloguing the races themselves, an additional chunk of my focus at the Glen was to find out exactly what it is about NASCAR that has propelled it to remain an absolute juggernaut in the world of spectator sports.

Is the hype justified? Do the legions of diehard fans, movies and media coverage actually represent a sport deserving of such a pedestal? Many would scoff and issue a flippant dismissal, rebutting that NASCAR is simply a redneck obsession that has nonsensically acquired its popularity.

Having avoided any groundless perspectives, I was an unbiased sponge before my arrival; ready to soak in the scene and hammer out some concrete conclusions. To make a long story short: the naysayers have it wrong – very wrong.

“The Glen”

Watkins Glen International is by all means in the country, which for us meant a rolling and scenic cruise from the Buffalo Airport.

Fate had bestowed our driver with two notable characteristics: an encyclopedia-deep knowledge of upstate New York, including the Glen, and a superhuman ability to maintain unbelievably casual conversation despite vigorously tailgating any car that deviated below the assigned speed.

Given our empty stomachs and the familiar anticipation that any traveler feels before arrival, I wholeheartedly appreciated his quirks.

You begin to sense the immensity of the Glen even before you enter the gates. Signs that designate parking and directions slowly start to pepper the side of the road, tirelessly providing a first wave of guidance and defense to the most assured calamity that was already coalescing.

Gate 2, our drop-off point, was bustling with the quintessential festival entrance proceedings, complete with walkie-talkie clad workers, stop-and-go traffic and lots of chatter. Above us, in the distance, mammoth grandstands loomed.

After bidding farewell to our driver, our Zippo rep, Hunter, arrived moments later and we transitioned ourselves into his Jeep for the final voyage to camp, or as I like to call it, Ground Zero.

It didn’t take long to realize Hunter was friendly, down to earth and adept – a great ambassador for what was to be a hearty weekend.

Upon entering camp, which was at non-event dates a sprawling grassy area, crisscrossed by dirt roads and encompassed completely by the road course, I realized several things almost immediately. For one, my North Face and loafers, indiscernible at SFO, were now about as out of place and impractical as Hannah Anderson’s pajamas bottoms amidst the Montana forest. Too soon?

Also, I had widely underestimated the degree of revelry and madness, which reared its head wildly as we slowly rolled towards our spot. I found myself rubbernecking, hastily trying to take it all in.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Plenty of Energy and Excitement leading up to the 2012 NASCAR Crown Royal Brickyard 400

When we were invited to join the folks at Crown Royal to be their guest at the 2012 NASCAR Crown Royal Brickyard 400, we knew it was going to be an incredible experience. Our first day at the track today was very enlightening, as we ate a hardy breakfast at the Crown Royal motorcoach, took a spin on the famous track in an Indy pace car starting from the south pit, enjoyed the fan experience with music and games, checked out the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, and saw the pre-race spectacle from behind the scenes.

For anyone who hasn’t been to an IMS or a NASCAR race, I can tell you first-hand that television does this sport little justice, as there is an energy at the track that is obviously invigorating, and today was just the qualifying race. Can’t wait until tomorrow for a full day of NASCAR while enjoying some Crown Royal with my friends from other digital / social media outlets and taking it all in. Stay tuned for more!

  

NASCAR at Night: Bullz-Eye’s time at the Bank of America 500

When you think of NASCAR, you think of a few key images. First, there must be loud, fast, heavily stickered cars careening around an oval. Secondly, the race will probably take place somewhere in the south. And finally, there must be enough flowing Budweiser and blaring country music twang to annoy Toby Keith. Yes, these are stereotypes, but no one ever mentions just how much fun a NASCAR event is because of it. Bullz-Eye went to the Bank of America 500 in Charlotte as a guest of Valvoline to witness this circus in person.

NASCAR races, like horror movies, are better at night. The reason is the same, drama. The noises seem louder, the speed seems more intense, and the crowds become more restless with anticipation. And really it is the fans that make these events what they are. Their blind devotion to single drivers makes the most ardent sports team fan blush. Depending on their favorite driver’s success in the rest, certain sections of the track may be in utter despair and crazed happiness at the same time.

The venue is also crucial. Charlotte can be described as one of the cradles of NASCAR. This southern city not only contains the track, but the Roush Racing Team as well. With its southern charm, fantastic barbeque, and good times vibe, the city is the embodiment of NASCAR’s attitude.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Over the Wall: The Job and Workout Regime of a NASCAR Pit Crew Member

New Hampshire is quite an idyllic place in the fall, full of trees with changing leaves, mild weather, and sleepy small towns; until the baritone crackle of NASCAR V8’s roll into town that is.

Twice a year, the NASCAR circus comes to New Hampshire to race at the Sylvania 300. However, unlike most other tracks, New Hampshire Motor Speedway special is the fact that is a 1-mile oval. Because of this, the racing action is condensed as opposed to the larger tracks like Talladega. Imagine putting 50 angry bears into one boxing ring, and letting them loose, that is what NASCAR racing on a short oval looks and sounds like. While here as guests of Sylvania, Bullz-Eye.com had the opportunity to find out the type of physical dexterity needed to be on a racing team as well.

Many people might think NASCAR and fitness should not be in the same sentence. Images of beer bellies and Cheetos fill their heads as they think of some man named Bubba screaming himself to near cardiac arrest for his favorite driver. However, that belief isn’t true.

Behind the scenes of every NASCAR team, there is a group of dedicated individuals that work on and off the track to achieve a race win. These individuals are the pit crewmembers. I spoke to TJ Fleming, front tire carrier of the Menards 88 truck in the Camping World Truck Series, on just how a pit crew member prepares for his job.

For those unfamiliar with racing, think of a pit crew like an offensive line, and the driver as the quarterback. Although the quarterback shoulders pressure from the media and responsibility for executing plays, it’s his offensive line that protects him so he can be effective. Just ask Jay Cutler of the Bears on how important a functioning offensive line is.

A pit crew does the same job. The driver goes out and collects the attention and race wins, but without his crewmembers, he would never have a chance to reach the podium. A pit crew keeps their driver competitive by completing a driver’s pit stops. During a pit stop, tires are changed, gas is refueled, and a car may be slightly repaired (usually with the delicate tools of hammers and duct tape). The faster a driver can get in and out of the pits, the greater his chances of winning. To get out fast, a pit crewmember must be well trained and in good shape.

Changing a tire may not seem like an activity to train for, but you probably have never had to change a tire in less than 30 seconds in front of a screaming crowd with a race win on the line. Not to mention, these tires way anywhere from 45-75 lbs. each that need to be lifted and fitted in a moments notice after sitting on the wall waiting for a driver to pit. Like an offensive linemen, you need to immediately and quickly spring into action to get the job done.

The person I spoke to about the importance of fitness for a crewmember was T.J. Fleming. T.J. and his teammates are responsible for keeping Matt Crafton’s truck competitive on the track in the Camping World Racing Series. Instead of cars, the Camping World Race Series features pickup trucks hauling ass on the racetrack that you would normally find at Home Depot hauling lumber.

Unlike NASCAR pit crews, whose teams have more money and resources, he and his crew pull double duty both working on the truck at the shop, and themselves in the gym. Since his job requires double duty, his workout regime focuses on all around strength. If you want to stay in shape like a crewmember, focus on these lifts:
• Squats
• Romanian Deadlifts
• Core Training
His exercise regime focuses around functionality, not necessarily what makes you look like a greased Guido.

Off the cameras, and out of the spotlight, is where pit crewmembers do their jobs. Pumping gas and changing tires is easy during a daily commute, but doing it quickly and effectively in a racing setting takes and hours of preparations. Without their help, the wins won’t come for the driver and neither will the spotlight or attention. Just like without an offensive line, your quarterback is just an expensive smear on the football field.

  

Related Posts