“I’d like to thank the fans….”
Usually, this is one of the first things the victor says when he climbs from his car. It’s pretty neat. Your driver just beat out the other guy, hopefully with a bit of drama involved. He’s about to collect a million dollar check and the topmost thing on his mind is you. And even if we are a bit jaded, for that moment we believe it. He won for us.
What do we do now? We tell the whole world. That is the definition of fan. We’re loud. We wear the logos. We buy the little cars that sit in glass cases. We go to the track and make ourselves louder. But, really, why do we stop our co-workers in the hall and relive the latest heart stopping moment at the track every week? Does it matter if we do or we don’t? It is, after all, just a sport.
Yes, the sharing matters. Why? It binds us together as humans. “What about that finish?” is the NASCAR fan version of the high-five.
For many fans – like you, reading the latest racing commentary on Monday morning provides that water-cooler rush. Whether you agree or vehemently deny what is offered up as the definitive observation of our sport, you are drawn to your local paper, favorite online news outlet or perhaps even one of the many very vocal fan sites out there.
What if that opportunity to read the latest and then speak your mind on the subject vanished?
Something happened this past week that got me thinking on the subject. Our sport lost one of its most outspoken and respected members of the press, David Poole.
Mr. Poole represented the voice of our sport. For decades, he defined daily coverage of NASCAR at his home paper, the Charlotte Observer. His blog at thatsracin.com provided not only a forum for his opinion on the latest in NASCAR, it was also an open venue for fans from all sides of the sport to come together. Reading the comments left by fans was almost always as entertaining as the actual column. Fervent arguments appeared among brief notes of agreement. Poole’s ability with the written word, combined with his passion for racing, inspired endless conversation among fans.
To me, what truly defined Poole’s persona in the wider world of NASCAR, was the discussion that erupted in his wake, almost constantly. Had he not graced our sport with his wit and knowledge, and laid the virtual welcome mat out for anybody to step on, our small sports world would not be enjoying the kind of fanatical following it continues to grow.
Perhaps, we are the true legacy of David Poole’s career. And like any legacy, it is up to the generations that follow to see that it does not falter.
Every week I hear from a few fans regarding my columns. Every day I read comments left on Frontstretch – serious, silly and controversial. I enjoy the display of emotions that draw each of us to fast cars. That is my high-five.
What about you? What’s your favorite thing about NASCAR? What makes you get up off your couch or type a frenzied response to a fellow fan’s post? Speak up!
After all, you are the reason this column, or any NASCAR commentary, exists. You are the fan.