Thanks to the fast-spreading COVID-19 virus, racing is on hold for a while. The fast cars will be back, but it’s a difficult and strange time for fans, trying to navigate a new world of grocery shortages and job uncertainty to go along with the health scare. The best thing we can all do right now is to love one another, take care of our neighbors and have compassion for those who aren’t as fortunate.
But we all need a little something to turn to. In the past, we’ve had racing to ease the pains of life. We miss it deeply.
For many, it’s not just an escape, but a livelihood, and one that’s uncertain at that. Small teams depend on purse money to pay employees. NASCAR has tried to even the playing field by limiting even in-house car testing, helping to ensure that the bigger teams don’t have as much of an advantage. But many teams will have no choice but to furlough or lay off workers just trying to live their dreams. They’re who’s important right now.
We all need something to do to get by. Some are at home as workplaces are shut down, and others need something to occupy their minds after a long day trying to appease everyone. Here are a few suggestions.
1. Check Out eRacing
You’ve probably noticed we’ve put some increased focus on eNASCAR this week, and we’re going to keep you in the loop. But check out some of these races online. While they’re not quite the real thing, they are fun to watch. NASCAR sanctions a few different series, and some independent races have been cropping up as well, with some top NASCAR Cup Series drivers and other personalities joining the fray.
Did you used to dabble in racing on a home PC? Why not break out the old games and the steering wheel and have at it?
2. Learn a Little History
Starting next week here on Frontstretch, you’ll be able to read about some pivotal years in NASCAR racing as we look back. There is so much more to learn and enjoy. Longtime fans, who’s your first favorite driver? Check out YouTube and other outlets to find his first win, then check out some key career statistics.
Newer fans, why not take a look back at some races you never saw? Or choose a driver you never got to watch race and find a few races. Look back at past seasons and learn where each series raced and who the stars were. Check out races from tracks no longer visited. The sport has such a rich tapestry of stories waiting to be heard by a new generation.
Here are a few of our staff’s picks for races to watch:
2000 Atlanta Motor Speedway (spring)
1997 Texas Motor Speedway
1996 Brickyard 400, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
2004 NASCAR Xfinity Series at Daytona International Speedway (summer)
1998 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
2000 Talladega Superspeedway (fall) — great race and Dale Earnhardt’s final victory
3. Find a Gem
That favorite driver of yours? Do a little online sleuthing to see what kind of memorabilia you might find emblazoned with their name or face. Check out vintage race programs, t-shirts or hats. What’s the oldest piece you can find? The strangest? The biggest, the smallest, the one you’ve always wanted?
It’s a lot of fun to see what’s out there. From t-shirts to pajamas, window decals to shoelaces, tiny stand-ups to full-size ones, it’s a great stroll down memory lane. The most oft-repeated phrase will probably be, “Oh, I forgot about that one!”
Window shop, or find a great deal and bring home that piece you always wanted or didn’t know you needed… and make sure to share pictures, please.
4. Movie Marathon!
Hunker down with some racing movies, old and new. There are documentaries, dramas or comedies for everyone. Revisit an old favorite, check out some new flicks, see what other racing series hit the big screen. Pop some popcorn, crack a cold beverage and enjoy the ride.
Our staff’s picks:
Blink of an Eye
The Last Race (wonderful film on home tracks)
Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story
Ford vs. Ferrari
Days of Thunder
The Art of Racing in the Rain (Okay, it’s more about the dog than the racing, but still…)
5. Read all about it
If movies aren’t your thing, there are some great racing books out there too. Many can be had for pennies if you can find a used copy on Amazon or the like. There’s not a lot of great racing fiction, but there are plenty of books that explore racing from all sides and points of view.
Our staff’s picks:
A Little Bit Sideways by Scott Huler
Driver No. 8 by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Second to None: The History of the NASCAR Busch Series by Rick Houston
Miracle: Bobby Allison and the Saga of the Alabama Gang by Peter Golenbach
They Call Him Cale by Joe McGinnis and Humpy Wheeler
Black Noon by Art Garner
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