Race Weekend Central

Packing for the Track: Controlling the Excitement of a NASCAR Fan

We’ve got tickets to this Sunday’s New Hampshire 301. Of course we do. One would think this would result in the simple packing of a cooler, maybe a backpack with sunscreen and camera. Leave the house somewhere around nine o’clock in the morning to arrive a couple hours before the green flag. It’s a day to get away from it all, right?


Stop! Oh, you’re killing me. If only it was that simple.


As the Camping World Truck Series haulers departed Kentucky and headed toward the White Mountains, my race weekend began its week long rush to celebration. I am a NASCAR fan, after all. I can’t do this by halvsies.


Pack the RV with flags to fly proudly. Include party lights, the game of bean bag toss, a few Blu-rays for a rainy afternoon, empty out the cupboard that collected hero cards from the last racing adventure, vacuum the NASCAR welcome rug and think…what am I going to forget?


Scanner, hat, sunglasses, selection of T-shirts. There’s the Chase Elliott one I bought last year! Wash the Dale Jr. throw and fluff the checkered pillows my sister-in-law made for the RV couch. Binoculars. Rain ponchos. Another plastic bag for cameras in case of a downpour. Hey! Where did all these can Koozies come from? Oh, and look at all the Outback flags we brought back from Bristol…what? We need what?


Firewood. Generators. Check the A/C. That definitely needs to work in July. Food? Do we need food? There was that invitation for Camper Appreciation Night. That’s one night of meals we don’t need to pack. And then there’s always the ice cream truck and other indulgent snacks available. Who needs chicken and barbeque? But there ought to be a supply of drinks…oh, yes. That’s why they put fridges in these monsters.


Somebody mentioned we need to take other items of clothing besides the T-shirts. I guess. It just takes more time, and honestly if it doesn’t have a car number on it, why would I be wearing it on race weekend? Which means finding those jammie bottoms colored with Jimmie Johnson’s logo.


As the pile begins to accumulate in our weekend accommodations, I check my watch and realize it’s now Monday. Besides planning the getaway, I’ve actually had to continue on with real life, even as various support haulers start to pass me on the interstate every morning. Like I needed any more distractions.


We all get it—that inability to think straight as we plot and plan for our favorite vacation times. It doesn’t help at all when you stop at D’Angelos for lunch and the No. 43 show car is parked out front. Wanna be at the track now! Not in a few more days. I try to keep the adolescent whining down to a minimum, but it’s difficult.


Batteries. Don’t forget batteries. They go in flashlights, smoke detectors, cameras, scanners, portable fans, remotes…that list alone is daunting. Add plastic silverware, because I am not doing dishes, let me tell you. Church keys! Why is it you always have one on your keychain until you’re not carrying your usual keys, because you’re at the track! Put an extra one or dozen in the kitchen.


There’s still loading up the cat and all her accessories. Yep, even the damn cat goes to the track.


The minutes left between punching the clock and punching out are dwindling. Fun approaches. Who has time to stay up to speed with the latest NASCAR news? Who needs it? We’re gonna be there in person. Danica can call Junior all the names in the world if she likes, I don’t care. Talk of aero packages turn to mere whispers. The controversy of Daytona is already a dim memory. There is only the future.


I’ll be in my happy place come Friday afternoon. New Hampshire Motor Speedway, here I come.


Sonya’s Scrapbook

1998 Farm Aid on CMT 300–Also know as Tire-gate


This was the defining race that transformed me from a Jeff Gordon “Hey, he’s kind of good!” fan to an all out No. 24 nut. Time and again the No. 24 dropped after their pit stops, where they would only take on two tires.  Ten laps later, the Rainbow Warriors would climb their way back to the front.

“What was in those tires?” Jack Roush asked.

“Air,” Mr. Evernham replied. “Air.”

It was a great day sitting in those stands.


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