NASCAR is king here. Placed above South Carolina Gamecock and Clemson Tiger football, much bigger then Carolina Panther football, NASCAR rules here in a way no other sport does. Everywhere you look, you’ll see decals, bumper stickers, jackets and shirts, proclaiming their favorite driver. It is something you cannot get away from. In the news, the start of NASCAR season surpasses anything and everything, even the lead up to March Madness.
NASCAR is nothing new to me, especially since my stepfather was a big Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt fan. Add to my sister and brother-in-law following the circuit for Jeff Gordon, and Dale Jarrett, it was difficult not to hear about it. Yet it was something I really never could get into. I knew enough to be able to carry on a conversation with my mechanic, who at that time was repairing something or another on my car on a weekly basis. My limited knowledge of NASCAR could have been seen as a blessing in disguise, since he seemed to have taken pity on me and took care of my car at a lower cost.
Yet it wasn’t until I moved south that I picked up a disdain for the sport. Seriously, a gut-wrenching, cold-sweat hate for NASCAR developed when I moved here. It had nothing to do with the cars, the fan worship or the accents. It had everything to do with what seems to be a secret fantasy of being a NASCAR driver for quite a few adults here.
Okay, truth is that the city I live in was rated as the top city in American by Men’s Magazine, when it came to the worse drivers in America. Yep, I live in a city that has the dubious distinction of having the crappiest drivers in America. It’s really not uncommon to have 3 or 4 major accidents occur at the same time on the highways here at rush hour. We can blame it on the weather, however, this occurs when the roads are dry and the sky is bright. Can you imagine when it rains? (I’ll give them a pass on the rare snowy days).
For as bad as the driving seems to be in the offseason, there tends to be a noticeable difference come NASCAR season, especially on a Monday after the race. It is then that the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon wannabe’s seem to come out. The morning commute turns into a jockey for pole position. The normal speed limit no longer exists and the State Troopers just tend to stay out of everyone’s way (unless it’s close to payday). Everyone seems, at least for the morning rush, to want to outdo the other drivers in typical NASCAR style.
This morning I was once again reminded how it is when the race season begins, down around here. For a full 40 minutes, as I was driving 80 mph in a 60 mph zone, trying to shake the guys that were riding my draft. I found myself screaming obscenities as I tried to use the bank to pass a car in front of me, only for a gray hair old lady (yes, older then me) to be cackling at me in her rearview and shoot me the bird as she cut me off.
It’s going to be a long summer here. Not sure which is going to be worse, the drive in to work on Mondays, or that the lyrics to “Little Old Lady from Pasadena” will be playing over and over and over in my head every Monday until the end of the season.
Go granny, go granny, go granny go………….