Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., is my home track and one that I visit twice a year for both Cup races, usually in June and early August. The weather at that time is usually at least warm, if not often steamy.
But this past week, my family and I had the occasion to be in the Pocono area and decided to drop by one of my favorite haunts.
What we found was shocking as shown in the photo that accompanies this article, with drifts of snow piled in front of the main entrances into the track.
Pocono Raceway was practically buried in the snow, with much of the track and grandstands hidden from view by the swirling flakes.
The steeples that track owner and patriarch Doc Mattioli added for his beloved wife and track matriarch Dr. Rose were barely visible in the whiteout conditions.
The famous tunnel turn entrance was shuttered tight, with locked black doors covering every possible way into the track. A huge "Do Not Enter" sign blocked the road to the area itself.
As we dodged the snow plow trying to clear the roads in front of the track, I could barely fathom that this snow-encrusted raceway could be anything close to the Pocono that I know and love.
There were no RVs in the lot. Instead there were miles and miles of white everywhere the eye could see.
There were no souvenir haulers, no crowds milling around the Speed stage, and no smells of burning rubber and race fuel. The entire track was eerily quiet, devoid of the sounds of the race cars making their way through the tricky turns of the tri-oval.
The wintry conditions at Pocono most certainly mirrored the frigid temperatures that had gripped the East Coast for most of the new year.
In fact, at the same time that we were visiting Pocono Raceway, fans were making tiny little snowmen at Daytona International Speedway, where temperatures mirrored Long Pond.
Snowy Pocono also seemed symbolic of the off-season for NASCAR fans, including myself. While the break may feel short for the drivers and teams, most of us fans pine away until the start of Speedweeks at Daytona in February.
And yet, as I sit here writing this article, Speed TV is airing interviews with drivers from "Fan Fest" at Daytona.
Sure, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a gray AMP hoodie and a big wintry beard, but he and all of the other drivers are like warm sunshine to the cold winter hearts of NASCAR fans everywhere.
So, it may be snowy, cold and frigid for many of us right now. But soon, very soon, the snow will melt and the drifts will be a distant memory.
NASCAR season will start, with the roar of engines that will only serve to heat up the competition. Our heroes will be back and the traveling circus that is NASCAR racing will wend its way from Daytona to California to Las Vegas.
And finally, the show will come to my home track, with all of its sights, sounds and smells, sans snow. And I will be back home at Pocono Raceway for the season.
Photo Credit: Erin Buchanan