Bert Cooper loudly proclaimed, “one never knows how loyalty is born”. That may be true in the hit TV show Mad Men where Cooper is portrayed by actor Robert Morse, but it’s not so in the sport of NASCAR.
One is keenly aware of how loyalty is born. You create a sense of worth and never insult their intelligence. NASCAR is a master at this notion. They continuously paint a respectful portrait as to which their fandom is not only included, but a vital mechanism.
And for their positive protocol, they are awarded a patronage partnership of unwavering customers.
NASCAR fans are the best in all of sports. No other arena claims such a devoted bond of spectators. Their voice is loud and clear. It is a maxim observed all week. But most noted on race day. An undying holy holiday for most. A day at the races (pardon my Marx Brothers reference) is a carefully crafted pilgrimage planned sometimes a year before. Oh yeah, NASCAR fans are ready and willing with their support.
A quick glance at the masses at a NASCAR event is often a cross section of our country. Doctors and lawyers sitting beside construction workers and factory laborers. The diamond encrusted social mavens tailgating with honest, hardworking blue collar crowd. And everyone comes together in a harmonic convergence of passion. It’s a sight to bewilder. Actually, it’s an appearance that shines bright. All with the same motive. To have a good time. To cheer. To yell. To assist your driver to victory lane. To at times suffer the agony of defeat with your hero. To seconds after the contest is concluded, immediately plotting your next race.
To know the NASCAR patron you must examine the word ‘fan’. It is derived from the root word ‘fanatic’. Webster defines it as ” a person enthusiastic about his interest”. I’m betting Mr.Webster never attended a NASCAR event. If he did he might have amended the definition to ”a person of supreme enthusiasm”. And their devotees cut a swath of a standard-bearing mentality to fly the flag of their 180 mph conquering combatants. In other words, they wear the gear.
Do they ever sport the gear. All fans have their favorite drivers. And all are draped in their daredevils colors. And they will stand in line for an hour to buy the new apparel. I would estimate that over 90% of fans that attend a NASCAR event are wearing some sort of driver type attire. And pity the unannounced fan that disparages ‘their’ driver. That might lead to a friendly disagreement that usually concludes with the two coming together and drinking a beer. Priceless!!
They live through their driver. And whatever sponsorship their driver endorses, so do they. If its Tide soap that their hero hawks, you can bet that fan will wash all clothes in Tide. If your driver pits Miller Lite beer, then that is your beer of choice. Now if suddenly that driver switches sponsorship to Budweiser, you guessed it, you now drink Budweiser. It’s a cult-like devotion only without the mind games.
NASCAR gets a bad rap as a deep south Dixie caravan. That may have been correct 20 years ago. But no more. NASCAR has become a national sport. From Dover to Sonoma, Michigan to Texas it lays claim to matchless mates of all genres. What was birthed as a sport pitting fearless, back road bootleggers is now a Fortune 500 outfit. All because the fans went and kept coming back. And back. And back. It evolved into the largest spectator sport in the country. A mass of humanity that lasts from Daytona Beach through a series of national pits tops, then weaves its way back to Florida to crown their champion in Homestead. And the fans are there each week. Always engrossed in an animated, anxious and ardent manner. Drinking beer and eating freshly grilled meat.
And having the time of their lives.
Always wrapped in their beloved drivers gear.
Tomorrow is work time. Tomorrow it’s back to the usual grinds of life. But today it’s race day. No worries. No cares.
They salute the flag. No matter if its Dale Earnhardt’s famous number ‘3’ or Old Glory, they salute. Loyalty and patriotism. It’s alive and well.
Coming to a track near you…
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