HOLE SHOT

Super Street - - CONTENTS - Sam Du Edi­tor-in-chief @dus­peed

Like 98% of you, I don’t fol­low NASCAR closely. 40 guys who only turn left, driv­ing an Amer­i­can V8, with ve­hi­cle styling dis­tin­guished by faux head­lights and a Ford, Chevy or Toy­ota sticker… How in the hell do peo­ple watch this ev­ery week­end?! Don’t get me wrong… I like all cars and can ap­pre­ci­ate most rac­ing, but when NASCAR is on TV, you can find me chang­ing the chan­nel. The ex­tent of my NASCAR fan­dom was more or less from watch­ing Days of Thun­der and Tal­ladega Nights: The Bal­lad of Ricky Bobby; how­ever, that was all about to change… Last July, Toy­ota brought me out of my com­fort zone of car shows, drift events and time at­tack battles, and in­vited me to my first NASCAR week­end in light of the Supra en­ter­ing the Xfin­ity Se­ries next year. Here are some notes I jot­ted down from my ex­pe­ri­ence:

>>All tracks aren’t oval. There are 36 races in the ’18 sea­son, but three of them have right turns and plenty of them: Sonoma Race­way (June) Watkins Glen In­ter­na­tional (Au­gust) and Char­lotte Mo­tor Speed­way (Septem­ber). They make up 8% of the races, but ru­mor has it NASCAR is hop­ing to add more in 2020 to in­crease view­er­ship.

>>It’s a high-tech sport. While the heart of NASCAR is still a V8, don’t let that fool you with the tech­nolo­gies they con­tinue to ad­vance such as com­pos­ite body pan­els, aero, use of car­bon, in­cred­i­ble safety fea­tures and more. Th­ese cars are far from mod­i­fied road cars but ded­i­cated race ma­chines with mil­lions of dol­lars poured into ‘em.

>>Re­mem­ber cheer­ing for crashes in For­mula DRIFT? In NASCAR, the crashes are that much more epic, and are even en­cour­aged. I wit­nessed quite a few pile ups and even a car bar­rel rolling in Day­tona!

>>NASCAR fans are like English Premier League fans. They’re ex­tremely hard­core, ded­i­cated, know ev­ery driver like their mama, and watch ev­ery race.

>>It’s a global mo­tor­sport. There are NASCAR se­ries in Canada, Mex­ico and Europe. We’ve even seen some For­mula One and Indy driv­ers make the switch. It was also cool to hear the story of Daniel Suarez who is one of to­day’s top 40 driv­ers in the Cup Se­ries. He was born and raised in Mex­ico, but worked his way up to the top here in the States.

>>It’s f*ck­ing fast! I had the op­por­tu­nity to ride shot­gun with Martin Truex Jr. who is the reign­ing 2017 champ. The sen­sa­tion of speed, feel­ing the forces of the car, and hit­ting the bank­ing hard with­out lift­ing, it felt like I was be­ing launched into space! Now, imag­ine 39 other cars go­ing at the same 160-200mph speeds, inches apart from each other… It’s a scary thought, and def­i­nitely made me ap­pre­ci­ate the sport a lot more.

So, after my week­end with Toy­ota at the Coke Zero Su­gar 400, I’ve learned not to bash NASCAR as much. It took me com­ing out of my bub­ble, but once that hap­pened, I un­der­stood why mil­lions of fans can find en­joy­ment watch­ing it. Per­haps hav­ing the Supra badge com­pet­ing next year won’t be so bad after all…

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