Challenging the NASCAR Race Fan
Cindy Lux, Andy Wallace, Mariano Franchitti, Tim Pappas, Adrian Fernandez... ring a bell? Probably not to most of us diehard NASCAR fans, as we would never consider straying from our beloved sport, right? Indeed I never saw myself entertaining seriously, another form of motorsport, but then again, this is Jerm's Joint RACING Pub, not NASCAR Pub. Therefore, I owed it to myself, and issue a challenge to all of you, to take in another form of racing. If nothing else, to compare the extreme differences that we all may be afraid to discover in favor of the fan.
This Saturday passed, a friend and I happened into tickets for the race weekend at Mid-Ohio Motorsports Park in Lexington, Ohio for both the LeMans and Indy Car race. Whereas we did not attend the later, we were like children in a candy store for the LeMans Series event. This is a racing series that recognizes what makes their success, fan base. Never have I been to a race where drivers were so accessible, friendly, and looked you in the eye when they signed an autograph as if fully understanding who signs their paycheck in the end. EVERY driver of EVERY team sat at a table behind their haulers cheerfully signing whatever the fan wanted inked. Taking time to converse with fans, asking where they were from, and thanking US for getting their autographs. What were they smoking? Thanking US for coming to THEM? We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto!
For those of you not familiar, the American LeMans Series is probably the most diverse racing class on the continent, ranking with the Rolex Series. This form of racing is done in a time frame, not by laps. Wow, what a concept...not who leads on the last lap, but who is at the head when time expires! Also, there are several different drivers per car, and at least one driver change must take place during an event. Involving several different classes, a variety of makes and manufacturers, it brings back excitement to road course racing that NASCAR has dropped the ball on. I would compare this to a road rally.It is true I must confess that we did not stay to the finish.
Guilty of the fact we did not pay for the tickets and we were sunburned beyond recognition; making shaving the next day nothing short of the Chinese water torture, nonetheless ensured our return for next year's event. Cindy Lux is the co-driver of the resurrected Dodge Viper Team. Maybe a tad rough around the edges, but possesses a huge sense of humor endulged us at the autograph signing after seeing my T-Shirt. Wanting to know where we were located thinking that the team may stop by after the race for a homebrew! She then signed the team autograph with her co-driver Stan, "To Jerm's Joint". A point that cannot be argued is the concrete fact that NASCAR has abandoned this sort of fan intimacy.
Was there a lot of passing? On a road course, are you kidding? Were the speeds 180 mph? Probably not. Does this series care about its fans? More than anything! I can guarantee the day in hell will be cold when I cease to follow NASCAR, but it is with great pride and fan satisfaction for me to say that I'm now a follower of the American LeMans Series for nothing else other than they care about us in the stands.
One doesn't have to tell me that this article isn't up to my usual standards. However this word needs to get out, and in numbers. If nothing else, than to wake NASCAR up before it becomes nothing more than a commercial on wheels.
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