Sunday, February 19, 2006

I’m A Convert

This weekend the NBA is putting on their All-Star showcase. A literal parade of the NBA’s best and brightest…and the stars (as they say) don’t seem to shine any brighter than they do in Texas (where the All-Star Game is being held in Houston).

And you know what?

As far as I'm concerned, it's not the most exciting thing in sports this weekend.

I know, I know…to those of you inflicted with a serious “Basketball Jones” that may be blasphemy, but I find my interests swaying further East to Florida. More specifically…DAYTONA!

I have never been accused of being a “gearhead” by anyone. Until last year, I had only seen one NASCAR race on TV in my life. That was five years ago, and I watched till the end. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that day I saw the sport lose perhaps its most formidable icon: Dale Earnhardt…number 3…the “Intimidator.”

I don’t know why I wasn’t hooked from that first day, but I wasn’t. Didn’t watch another race that entire 2001 season. 2002 didn’t grab me either. More of the same in 2003, ditto for 2004.

I sat in my friend Bruce’s swimming pool last Summer and told him about this crazy idea that I had to produce a daily sports publication via PDF file. I shared that I envisioned only covering the “Big Four” when it came to sports; namely baseball, football, basketball and hockey.

Bruce responded, “NASCAR’s bigger than hockey.”

At the time, I begrudgingly ceded the point but still wasn’t sold. It did get me to start thinking, investigating and exploring however. The businessman in me immediately saw dollar signs as I opened my eyes to how well the sport markets itself. That was enough to motivate me to want to go witness NASCAR live for myself. I made plans to go to Phoenix last November to take in the NASCAR weekend there.

The week before that though, I made the fatal mistake of visiting one of my dearest friends in the whole wide world at his home in Nashville, TN. The focal point of my trip there was to take in the Tennessee-South Carolina game at Knoxville. But the seeds were planted to help spur my interest in racing.

Knoxville is about a three-hour drive from Nashville. I spent the better part of that trip grilling Noel and Angie about NASCAR and what they loved about it. Noel just kept telling me that he couldn’t wait to hear about my first NASCAR experience (which was to follow the next week). I could see it in his eyes. I could hear it in his voice. This was going to be unlike anything I had ever experienced.
The next day (after Steve Spurrier and the Cocks beat up on the Vols) we drove back to Nashville and watched the “Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500” on TV at Angie’s brother Billy’s house.

Billy is the genuine article…the real deal. He first walked into Noel’s house with his bib overalls and generously shared the Crown Royal that he carried in a plastic flask (topped by a beer bottle cap) in the front pocket of his overalls. Billy told me stories about traveling to Daytona and Talladega and (of COURSE) Bristol!

I may not have been at the race, but I couldn’t imagine there being a more authentic race experience than watching NASCAR in Tennessee with my buddy Noel and my new buddy Billy.

That Sunday was one of the best days I had had in a long time.

The following weekend was a moot point. I was hooked. Carl Edwards had won two races in a row (in Dallas and then Atlanta) and then won the Busch Series race in Phoenix while I was there. Call me a bandwaggoner (is that a word?), but I have been a Carl Edwards fan ever since.

Today I did my best to maintain my composure after watching “mah boy” Carl get pushed into the start of an accident that cut his “Hershey Kissables 300” Busch Series race short. I had so much fun culling through the various photos that we had available for publication in XXL NATIONAL for tomorrow’s NASCAR edition.

Tonight, I sporadically lifted my head from my Powerbook to watch occasional slam dunk highlights from the NBA’s All-Star Saturday Night. “Ehhh” was about all I could muster. The NBA just doesn’t do it for me anymore.

I’ve been converted.

I’m a Carl Edwards fan.

I am quick becoming a NASCAR nut.

I can’t wait to watch the Daytona 500 Sunday.

I can’t wait to go to Fontana, CA next week to take in all three races.

Oh lord…I may yet become a “gearhead.”


At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes I too have caught the NASCAR bug. I watched bits and pieces of the Daytona 500. My curiosity grew as I watched how skillfully the drivers maneuvered at 190 MPH. Bumping and jostling for position.

At 7:37 AM, Blogger XXL National Publisher said...

I have come to the conclusion that NASCAR has quickly become my second favorite sport (Baseball will ALWAYS be my first love). I couldnt tear myself away from Daytona coverage all weekend and will be at all three races this weekend in Fontana (or Fontucky as we affectionately refer to it locally).

At 5:57 PM, Blogger NoMore said...

It makes me want to cry to bring another soul into the fold, and I'm so proud of you for not being a Jeff Gordon fan. Get your ass back over to the Smokies and we'll see some winning basketball (who needs football!), drink some more of Billy's Crown, and watch the cars go 'round and 'round really fast!!!


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