Many people hear NASCAR and instantly think of the good ol' country boys watching cars go around in circles. They are a tad bit shocked to realize that there are women fans.
While it is a common notion of NASCAR—in reality the sport's fanbase is mostly comprised of country boys AND girls.
When I tell people that I am a NASCAR fan, their jaws drop and immediately they begin asking questions: "How did you get into that sport?" "Isn't it dangerous for you to be around them?" "Why do you watch cars go around in circles?"
So who am I? I am a minority in every sense of the word. I am woman of West Indian heritage and I love NASCAR.
It all started when I happened to catch an episode of the E! True Hollywood Story of NASCAR. I am a history fanatic and was instantly drawn into the historic appeal of this sport.
Different drivers were then profiled. I thought, "This seems kinda cool, I wonder when the races are?" I looked it up on line and watched it the next Sunday—I've been a fan ever since!
I wasn't sure how my first race weekend would go over. I was nervous and excited to meet real NASCAR drivers at the Ford Race Fest and then watch them race. My friend "warned" me that it would be a bunch of racist rednecks who would make me feel uncomfortable. I had never felt threatened before—living in Miami and all.
I decided to brush it off.
I was pleased to report to my friend that he couldn't be more wrong (at least about NASCAR in Miami). Not only did I feel completely comfortable, I felt completely welcomed.
These were not ordinary Miami citizens by far. It was easy to see these people came from out of town—they were so...nice!
My fellow fans at Ford Race Fest and the Ford 300 seemed like one big happy family. They were more than willing to help us take family pictures and settle arguments between me and my sister.
A growing number of people are sharing my same experiences. At my first race in '05, I could have sworn that my dad, sister, and I were the only minority in the entire stand. Over the years it has changed tremendously.
I predict a continuance in this trend.
So why are more and more minorities coming out to the races and loving this sport?
1. Juan Pablo Montoya and others like him.
After his debut, the Hispanic crowd—at least at Homestead—swelled like never before. They are realizing that minorities are welcome to race and they are loving watching them race. Having a driver who isn't white seems to make minorities feel welcomed into the sport.
2. It's a feasable family sport.
Families can come together 36 weeks out of the year to watch their favorite teams compete every weekend. Unlike football, a family of four can have four different drivers and be able to watch them "play" in the same "game." There is no need to change the channel to see your favorite team/driver.
All in all, NASCAR is the best sport in the world. The outcome of the race depends on so many different factors that it's a thrill to tune in each week and see how it pans out.
I hope the sport continues to grow in these hard economic times and that people realize you don't have to spend any money to sit in front of your TV.