[media-credit id=38 align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]CHARLOTTE – I never grow old of seeing the wonder in a child’s eye when they attend a Nascar event. Last weekend, I attended the All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. However, I wasn’t there as a member of the media. No, I was there as a fan of racing and more importantly as a father. Many families have traditions; the All Star race is one for my family. My wife and I have two wonderful sons and spending time with them is always great, but there is something special about a race weekend.
My youngest son is five years old and he can’t get enough of race cars and monster trucks. It was a special moment as I watched his eyes light up as the cars were pushed onto the starting grid and the excitement he had when Jimmy Johnson took the lead during the race. Then as I carried him on my shoulder to the car following the event, I had to laugh and nearly cry when he leaned into my ear and said “this has been a really fun night daddy.”
This memory was fresh in my mind as I walked through the garage and pits this weekend in Charlotte for the Coca Cola 600. It has always been said that Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. For many, the weekend is an opportunity for family reunions. Nascar’s annual two week visit home to Charlotte is no different. With so many teams based in and around the Charlotte area, this is an opportunity for drivers and crew members to spend time with family, both on and of the track.
There were many high profile examples to be seen, such as Matt Kenseth celebrating his Nationwide victory with his wife and children, Jeff Gordon and David Reutimann sharing their parade laps with their daughters, but to see the real impact, you had to look beyond the headliners. Many crew members had spouses and children in both the garage area and pits before and during the race. Dan Collins, who drives Brad Keslowski’s hauler and is also a member of the pit crew had his wife and son, Hunter, in the pits with him. Dan said “having this two weeks to get to spend with the family means everything to me and them. We enjoyed it like fans this weekend – we camped in the infield all weekend.”
Seems from year to year, that there is debate of moving the All Star race away from Charlotte. As someone that lives in Charlotte, I am glad they haven’t as it allows me the opportunity to enjoy the sport with my family. Most in the garage area feel the same way and are happy that Nascar has chosen to give them this break from the road.