NASCAR Racing Finds Their Groove in Michigan

Kyle Larson leads the racing pack at Michigan.

Kyle Larson leads the racing pack at Michigan.

A bright blue sky dotted sparingly with puffy clouds offered occasional shade to the tens of thousands of fans attending all of the race weekend activities at Michigan International Speedway.

Whether you are a first time attendee or a life-long race fan, there’s something almost magical about race day. The only way to experience it is to be here. Imagine a sense of anticipation, almost as though the air has been infused with electricity.

Not only can you feel it – you can smell it. The scents include the exhaust mixed with hot rubber and the bacon or brats cooked on the grill depending on the time of day.

Your eyes try to focus on the cars as they blur passed you at over 200 miles per hour. Every sensory organ is overwhelmed.

That overwhelming feeling is what turns interest into passion.

NASCAR is at a pivotal junction in the transition of racing greats. In recent years, some of the most famous names in racing have either retired or announced their intentions to.

Four-time Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon retired following the 2016 racing season. Carl Edwards shocked the racing community earlier this year when he hung up his wheel at what most considered to be the peak of his career. Following multiple concussions throughout his career, Dale Earnhardt Jr announced that 2017 will be his final one as he searches for his first Cup Championship.

There is a plethora of young talent breaking ground and earning fans in their takeover of NASCAR’s top series. Austin Dillon recently earned his first win, also marking the first time that the No. 3 car was in Victory Lane since the late Dale Earnhardt Sr drove it. Kyle Larson, young although not a rookie anymore, finds himself in the running for his first Cup Championship. Chase Elliot, Ryan Blaney, and Erik Jones are all making their marks and taking home checkered flags along the way.

NASCAR has balanced between giving long-term fans the emotional send-off for drivers retiring and building enthusiasm for upcoming racers.  The last few seasons have birthed something that all levels of this sport have been in desperate for – raw emotion.

Sports fan crave that depth exclusively found in the athletes themselves. Having former drivers and crew chiefs in the booth commentating the race helps translate the emotions that the athletes feel to the viewing audience.

The freedom drivers have outside of the cars to showcase their personality gives more transparency to an already accessible sport. Their ability to articulate their triumphs and frustrations in their words on social media  is where the bond between fan and driver begins. Once that bond is formed, interest turns into passion.

If you find yourself intrigued and in the grandstands come race day, take this advice and welcome the sensory overload. Be sure to keep your ear plugs out for the first few laps.

I promise you – the rush you will feel as those cars exit turn four to the drop of the first green flag of the day is something you will experience twice a year in the mitten state.

 

Christina Bowman

Michigan native, fitness enthusiast, lover of bacon and most importantly NASCAR fanatic! My passion for the sport started upon my first visit to Michigan International Speedway at the age of 12 and has not dwindled since that day.

Graduate of Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication; emphasis on Broadcasting/Production.

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