The Daytona 500 Has Officially Turned Me Into A Full-Blown NASCAR Fan

I’ve spent my entire life in the northeast. My father is from Queens, I was born in Manhattan, and I was raised in New Jersey. My father grew up playing stick ball and I was raised on a soccer field and a basketball court. Point being, motorsports were never in the picture. And at the age of 24, I never thought they would enter it. I guess I always just assumed that the ship had sailed.
I’ve never been so glad to be dead wrong in my life. After this weekend at Daytona, I am now officially a NASCAR fan.

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As for the Daytona 500 itself, the entire thing is like a carnival.┬áThe only way to describe Daytona┬áto someone who’s never been there is to say it’s like taking your favorite sport and building an entire city around it. Whereas baseball is associated with Cooperstown and football with Canton, NASCAR and Daytona take that idea and crank it up to 1000. Ready? Close your eyes, picture your favorite thing in the world, build an entire fantasy city based on it, throw in some cold beer, delicious food, and gorgeous weather, and that’s the Daytona 500.
The atmosphere is unforgettable, the crowd is breathtaking, and the fans are passionate. The only thing more perfect than the temperature of the weather is the temperature of the beer. Essentially, the Daytona 500 is everything any guy could ever want and then some.


Now, let’s talk about the sport of NASCAR as a whole.
Going into the weekend, I was the furthest thing from being a NASCAR fan. I didn’t know how the season worked or who any of the drivers were, besides the five or six you always see in the highlights. Hell, I thought Jeff Gordon was still top dog. To be honest, I never really saw the point of watching 40 guys drive around in circles for half the day. Just as Americans don’t understand Europeans’ obsession with soccer, I never understood the craze over NASCAR.
More than any other sport we have, these guys are putting their lives on the line every single second they compete. You think a two-minute drive without timeouts is intense? Imagine the final couple laps at Daytona, where one false move could cost you your life. Now that’s intense. That’s competition. Once you realize that the stakes of any given NASCAR race are more tangible and consequential than that of any other sport, you find a whole new appreciation and respect for the both the drivers and the sport as a whole.


But after my weekend in Daytona, not only do I understand why people are so passionate about NASCAR, but I came away from the weekend realizing I had just witnessed one of the greatest events in American sports. Before this weekend, I’d watched maybe one hour of NASCAR in my 24-year existence. But after this weekend, you can bet your ass I’ll be tuning in for next weekend’s race.
And that’s probably what excites me most: that I have a brand new sport to get jacked up about every week. At the end of the day, all we need is something to look forward to and all I’m looking forward to right now is next Sunday when I can kick back, relax, crack open a beer, and continue my new-found life as a NASCAR fan.

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