The start of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Car season is here..and so are the big spenders
MAD TO THE MAX
The madness of the summer sports season is about to begin as the biggest crowds, made up of the most rabid fans, who spend the most money pre capita in American sports, are about to get their first fix of the new year. It has nothing to do with the magic of wafting warm breezes under the Grapefruit and Cactus League sunshine or the anticipation of the greenest and grandest of golf’s majors that’s been growing from week to week since the middle of January in the high winds of Hawaii. It’s not even about the clarion call and the refrain of “My Old Kentucky Home” that signals that other harbinger of summer sports, thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. The roar of the crowd I’m talking about can bearly be heard over the roar of the engines, but they’re there, as rabid as ever, as ready to spend, and many of them spend as much, and as quickly, as their sports heros earn. Million dollar traveling mansions have been parked in the infield for over a week, just to get a glimpse of last weekend’s practice runs and time trials. In no other sport do they line up just to watch judges with calipers and micrometers measure equipment and guage weights, a major event throughout the week at every NASCAR event. They packed the stands yesterday, headphones, at 150 bucks a pop, in place to tune to the conversations between their favorite drivers and their pit crews for qualifying races, the main event still three days away. It’s a gentle madness duplicated nowhere else in the sports world and it’s not limited to the “Great American Race”. “Speed Weeks” in Daytona, the Daytona 500 the climax and the center piece, is only the beginning. It’s a week after week love affair highlighted by the parade to the next venue, million dollar luxury mobiles leading the way. In Charlotte, home of the longest NASCAR race, July’s Coca Cola 600, millionaire businessmen stand in long lines two months before the race just to get a two lap, up close, 100 mile an hour ‘drive-by’ taste of the excitement with a real NASCAR driver. When the tour makes it’s summer stop in New Hampshire the mobile homes arrive well ahead of the “Cup haulers” and the “Nationwide haulers” to set up their city on the hilltop overlooking the Magic Mile, complete with road maps, street signs, souvenir stands and convenience stores. It’s a traveling road show of neighbors who come to know each other as well as they know their favorite drivers, with whom relationships, real or imagined, are so close they address them by name, Jimmy, Kevin, Dale Jr., or, even more informally, by number, 3, 24, 48. Nothing more is needed, everyone knows. Summer’s coming. Baseball fans will mortgage the homestead to take the family to one game, golf fans will attend the local Tour stop, those most involved in the sport of kings will take in the big three while average fans will stick to their own coast. For the NASCAR fan, the passion of a lifetime begins anew on Sunday, at Daytona. Other sports only wish. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.