Race Weekend Central

Fan’s View: NASCAR 101 – When You Can Applaud

It’s a simple question, but apparently the answer may not be so easy to come by.

When is it the right time to applaud? Thanks to unfortunate events that resulted from Daytona (apparently the press box burst into applause when Trevor Bayne took the checkered flag), you would think we NASCAR fans all have the reply on the tip of our tongues… ah! I didn’t ask where you are permitted to clap, if ever there was such a silly place, I asked when.

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It seems to me we may have gotten the two things all tangled up in our brains of late, and I wanted to take a moment to clarify the situation for those of us who might be worrying over whether we’ve got it right. For if there’s anything really embarrassing, it’s making a whole lot of noise when you’re the only one doing it. So, here’s a short list of opportune moments when bringing your hands together combined with vocal exercise is encouraged. We’ll start at the beginning of the day at the track.

Driver Intros: Yes, dammit! Make some noise! Put your hands together and let the drivers know you care! Of course, booing is also permitted when the latest bad boy takes the stage. I’m not naming names, but the initials K.B. come to mind.

The Singing of the Star Spangled Banner: I don’t care if the performer is tone deaf, some respect for our flag is needed. Yell your head off as the jets roar overhead. If you don’t care to cheer, feel free to join in on those last few notes. (It’ll sound better if you warmed up during driver intros.)

Drivers, Start Your Engines: This is a no-brainer. If you are one of those people where the ignition of 43 monstrous engines coming to life has no impact, you should just go home and read a book. I suggest attempting to match the decibel level while the drivers rev those motors.

Parade Laps: At this point, your throat should be nice and limber, as we’ve been cheering for a good bit now. It’s OK, don’t stop. After all, we are just about to go racing. Jumping up and down in anticipation is fine at this point. Hoist your kid on your shoulder and show him the cars. Smile at your neighbor. Point at their t-shirt… maybe it’s new!

Green Flag: Oh, hell yeah. I always make a point of keeping my headset off until after the first two laps. And I’m sorry, I cannot remain silent as the field thunders by in that pack of accelerating madness.

OK, we’re gonna take a break here. The guy hanging over the railing and screaming, “Junior!” every time the No. 88 drives by can get more than a little annoying as the field strings out and we settle in for a nice afternoon. But silence is not demanded. Open the cooler and pass around your beverage of choice. Point at the field. Stand up when your driver gets loose. It’s all cool. Using body English to get the guy blocking your driver to slide up the track is encouraged.

A wreck: Do not cheer. Got it? A human being is in that pile of metal that just got scrunched. I don’t care if you have no kind feelings for that particular driver, but this is the moment to prove to your fellow fans you have a modicum of good sense and keep your trap shut, unless you are expressing sounds of concern. Applause are encouraged when the pilot climbs from the cockpit unscathed.

Your driver is making a move to pass: Let the hounds loose! It’s always a lot more fun to find a nearby fan who is cheering for the car yours is attempting to put in the wall. Show the driver what to do. Tell him! Be loud. Clap. Jump. Wiggle. Just remember to keep track of the order. If he’s only passing a lap-down car, you’d be better off to just smile and give a little praise.

Yellow Flags: This is up to you. If you feel inclined to give a holler to the pace car, go ahead. But not really needed.

Restart: Sure! Why not? At least the field is moving faster than a snail. That’s worth making some noise over.

And the laps go by…: This is the hard part of the day. The cars are still covered in brilliant colors. They remain mighty fast. There’s noise, but it has settled into the steady hum of a race. This is a good moment to rest those vocal cords and cool your burning palms with another cold one.

Pit Stops: I’ve always found it refreshing to cheer for the team as they go for four tires and a full tank. It’s even more exciting when your driver only takes two and leaves the rest in the dust. And right now, with the field under yellow, it’s possible to actually hear the puny cries of the human voice.

Green/White/Checkered: If you are silent, with only two laps of competition remaining, I hope you are already heading for the parking lot. On your feet! Drop everything and apologize to the lady who is now wearing your beer. Climb onto your seat. Peer over the shoulders of the giant sitting in front of you. And yell like there’s no tomorrow.

Checkered Flag: Cheer for the winner. Or boo, if it’s really that bad.

Burn-out: Don’t Stop Now.

Back-flip: Woo Hoo! That looks like fun. I’ve always wanted to try, but I figure a little bouncing on the bench is almost as good.

Victory Lane: Yeah!

Champagne: Will it ever stop?

The packing up of the pit boxes… OK. It’s time to go. It’s time to stop. The sun is setting and the party is over. If your ears are ringing, your palms stinging and your voice just a little hoarse, you did it right.

The rule is simple: Do what you feel is right. Put those hands together! Stand up and jump around! Make some noise! Revel in the emotions that rip through your body as fast as the cars go by. It’s your sport. Make sure the world can hear you!

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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