Hello from the heart of Nascar country. I'm beginning to learn firsthand about the cult following this spectator "sport" garners around here. However, I'm still confused as to what the actual attraction is.
Saturday I had a photo assignment at a new speedway that had just been built in Shenandoah, Va. Whew-weee it's a whole different world out there. I've never seen such a congregation of mullets in my entire life. Anyway, it was just stockcar racing, not the full-blown Nascar stuff, but you'd think these people had seen the Second Coming of Christ for the way they cheered.
I arrived a few minutes before six, the time I was supposed to be there. I parked my car in the clay dirt (no parking lot here) and followed the crowd through the gate. Tickets were 15 bucks for this sucker! 15 bucks to watch cars go round and round in circles on a track. Unbelievable. But, a nice smile and a big camera got me through the door. I've discovered pretty quickly I don't even need a press pass - people just trust me when I say I'm with the newspaper and let me through. It's a good thing, because I don't even have a press pass. (Side note - I'm also realizing that being "media" means some people want to meet you and make a good impression because you supposedly have this thing called influence. So I shook hands with the guy running for governor of Virginia and his posse.)
Apparently, everyone arrives at these things like an hour early. The actual driving of cars didn't even start until 7:30, after a grueling hour and a half of announcements, a parade including the new two-year-old Miss Baby Virginia, invocation, national anthem, wetting the track, drying the track, yada, yada, yada. Can I just say, those cars are LOUD. No one ever told me I might want to bring some earplugs, but everyone else seemed to know. I saw some funny looking earmuff things too... don't know what those were.
Anyway, here are a few of the pictures that ran in the paper Monday.