Every week for 10 months a year, we race fans sit down on the couch every Sunday afternoon, or on some occasions, Saturday night, to watch another exciting NASCAR race.
Sitting there with a bag of chips in one hand, a beer or soda in the other, and think to ourselves, ''Boy, these guys can drive!'' They sure can.
But where did the drivers get their talent? We're they just born to race? Did they jump into a race car and be amazing right away? No. They had training during their teenage years, just like any other athlete on this planet.
The type of racing that prepared them to drive a 3,600 pound, 800-horsepower stock car, was on local short tracks. You know those oval shaped roads you might find somewhere that looks like it could swallow a car, they actually race on those!
I know most of these tracks look old compared to NASCAR tracks you see on TV, but they do have exciting racing with young guys as drivers who all have dreams: to make it into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series one day.
To me, this is the best racing you will find anywhere. There is nothing like driving up to a local short track to watch some good ol' late-model racing. It's like going to Bristol every time!
So you ask, if this is the best racing you will find anywhere, why isn't it on TV?
Well once every year, you will have the chance to watch some of these races on television. It's called the Toyota All-Star Showdown; where all the greatest late-model drivers and future NASCAR stars battle it out on a tiny track, called Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, CA.
And your chance to watch this is coming up very soon. In less than two weeks time, this wonderful race will be live on the SPEED channel, Jan. 23 and 24.
I suggest you all watch this race; it will be exciting. The greatest drivers from the NASCAR Camping World Series, east and west, are mixed into one race!
The champions from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (Ted Christopher), NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour (Brian Loftin), NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (Scott Steckly) and the NASCAR Corona Series (Antonio Perez) will join in on the fun.
To make things even more interesting, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers Ron Hornaday and Matt Crafton will enter this race.
After watching this race, I hope you think more about late-model racing and that you consider attending one of these races in 2009 and years to come.
There are short tracks all across North America and you should have no problem finding one. It doesn't have the speed and glamour of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, but it's magical in some way that's hard to explain.
So for one weekend, get off the couch, grab the cooler full of beer, and move your butt to the short track. It's cheaper and probably less travelling is involved. Support the grassroots of NASCAR and have fun doing it; I'm sure you will.