The view from my couch

A View from the Stands
by Andy Holland, guest writer for USARfans.com
July 17, 2006

I received an email a few days ago from a good friend of mine who, like all of us, enjoys the sport of stock car racing. Now he's not an avid fan like me, but he does watch a lot of racing on TV and may actually make 2-3 races a year. He asked if I had been to any races lately, and if I planned to make the Pro Cup show in Kenly on July 22nd. He told me that he had been trying to convince some of his NASCAR buddies to check out the Pro Cup race in Kenly, but to date hadn't had a lot of takers.

I remember a time when I also felt NASCAR racing was the only form of racing known to man. It seemed perfectly logical at the time to pay $75-$125 for a Winston Cup race ticket to see the big league stars of racing perform. I remember my last Winston Cup event, the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte a few years ago. This was the race that Tony Stewart was flown in by helicopter just before the race started. Here are just a few of my fondest memories from that (my last) NASCAR experience:

  • Miles of slow moving traffic.
  • Paying $5.00 to park in a recently cleared wooded area and walk at least mile back to the track entrance with cushion and cooler in hand. Seems the 5 spot should have gotten me at least a trolley ride to the gate, don't you think?
  • My $125 race ticket did get me a primo seat. Flag stand center in fact. The down side was being pinned at the shoulders by guys on either side of me the entire race. No leg room at all. My knees were jammed into the seat in front of me. I will never forget how much I enjoyed that experience for 5+ hours. I won't even mention how much fun it was walking over other pinned fans to go to the bathroom. I will give Charlotte credit however; they do get maximum utilization from every inch of available space.
  • Even with a much better than average seat I was so far away from the action it was hard to see what was going on.
  • A 600 mile race becomes extremely boring.
  • The drivers that you see on TV are totally unapproachable unless you know someone on the "inside". I was able to see my favorite driver, Dale Jarrett, for a split second getting into his car just before the race with the aid of binoculars.
  • The mass exit of 150,000 or so fans.
  • The return walk to the area where I parked.
  • Getting out of the parking area.
  • Not recalling any meaningful racing for position the entire day.

    I contrast my last NASCAR experience to the Hooters Pro Cup race that I attended July 8th in Hickory. The Pro Cup experience went something like this:

  • Drove directly onto the speedway grounds. No parking fee.
  • $30.00 for a total access pass.
  • Fairly relaxed grandstand seating even though there was a packed house.
  • Opportunity to shake hands and visit with many of my favorite Pro Cup drivers in the pits prior to race time.
  • 250 laps of the most competitive racing you will ever see.
  • Numerous lead changes.
  • Side by side racing all night long.

    I don't know about you, but to me the Pro Cup experience describes what most race fans are looking for - accessibility, affordable, and great stock car racing. No, you won't find the Madison Avenue celebrities with the million dollar contracts that you see on TV, but you will find exciting, up on the wheel racing by some of the best short track drivers in the country. So if you're a NASCAR fan, give Pro Cup a try. You may be pleasantly surprised.

    Andy Holland
    Rocky Mount, NC
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