We’ve been asked this a few times. It all started in 2000 when i was flicking through the TV channels to see if there was anything interesting on the box. On one of the obscure European satellitesports channels i found a load of cars going round and round in circles. Turns out it was NASCAR and i was watching 1 hour delayed highlights of the Daytona 500 from Feb 2000. This racing got my interest as in Europe we see cars on road courses not ovals and so i started to look round on the internet for more info.
One of the first websites i found was a motor racing forum that included a NASCAR section where i proceeded to post and learn more about it and make some good friends that i would meet up with in years to come. In 2003, Judith and I decided to make our first trip to America where we took a week long motorsports tour from the UK to Orlando Florida to go see the Daytona 500.
We had a great time visiting Tampa with its aquarium, St Petersburg and Cape Kennedy Space Centre which by the way if you’ve never been, you really should go to as its a great visitor attraction. There are these mobile launcher platforms that move the shuttle from the shuttle assembly building to the launch site. On their own they weigh over 8million pounds! You do not realise the size of them until your stood looking up at one.
To be honest, Daytona is as impressive when you go there for the first time and especially when its your first NASCAR race. Watching the cars getting up to speed for the 1st couple of laps running side by side round the high banked 2.5 mile oval is a sight to be seen. With your nose up against the trackside fence, the sound, smell and colour of the cars as they race through turn 4 and head down the front straight is something that will live with me forever. This particular race was called off just after halfway because of rain and marked a win for Michael Waltrip. Can he remember what its like to win actually get a qualifying time good enough to be in a race?
Ryan Newman wrecked his car right in front of us during the race and was luckily able to just walk away from the crash[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l32L_B-4G98]
Here’s a longer (4 minutes) showing more of what happened [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX79ruM8QMY]
And that was it, we realised we loved America from that moment on and during 2004 began planning our second trip that this time would last 4 weeks…
Till next time