As I’ve said in the post below, there is nothing like Speedweeks to kick off the season in style. A few years back my family and I were fortunate enough to find ourselves in Florida during February, so we made it our mission to go and see the action by the beach. Not what the average English holiday-makers get up to in the Sunshine State, but it’s an experience I’d recommend to anybody who loves racing.
Our own Speedweeks experience had begun with the ARCA race. The Speedway is slap-bang on a high street, with Target Stores, 7-Elevens and all the happy shoppers going about their business literally across the street from the daunting stands. It was all a far cry from driving down the leafy lanes to the majestic seclusion of Oulton Park. We parked our rental car on somebody’s lawn for a fee and bought our tickets from a guy with a cowboy hat, a gun and a big red truck. That also doesn’t happen at Oulton Park.
We could hear the cars firing up in the distance so we hot-footed it to the grandstands, running straight through to the fence just as the green flag waved. Nothing prepares you for being a few feet away from 43 stock cars, it remains my most frightening and vivid of racing memories – 30,000 horsepower, 180 mph, bumper-to-bumper, ground-shaking, ear-splitting – and all with no warning whatsoever as we hadn’t had chance to so much as look at a stock car in person before a whole pack of them were unleashed in front of us.
By lap two we were already climbing higher in the stands as we really didn’t fancy being up against that fence when the Big One happened. From our perch up in the Gods we could look down on the roofs of the cars, but I’m glad that we initially scared ourselves by rushing to get as close as possible to them. That moment has made watching Nascar on TV that bit more exhilarating. It may be a cliche, but you have to see Nascar in the flesh to really get to grips with it.