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How to Watch NASCAR

Posted: 2-14-13 | Parker Flags

In spite of what it may appear like on the outside, not everyone who follows NASCAR actually knows everything about racing. At this point, when racing is arguably closing in on football's popularity, it may seem a little embarrassing to ask, "What the heck is all this about?"

It all began with a man by the name of “Big” Bill France. In 1947 had grown tired of him and his friends racing and never getting paid for their efforts by promoters who would sneak off with the prize purses before the drivers could have a chance to collect, so they formed a sanction. A lot of sanctions have been formed since then, however none have taken off quite the way NASCAR has. It hasn’t always been as large or as popular as it is today, having really only taken off in the last 10 or 15 years.

Some people surmise that part of it is that logo--so simple, so colorful, and so easily identifiable. Part of it is the marketability and likability of the drivers in NASCAR, as if they were members of one’s own family. They don't need last names anymore. You just call them "Junior", or "Tony" or "Kevin" or "Greg". They’re easily recognizable both on the track and off. We all know "cousin" Kurt is apt to throw a fit and make a scene that "cousin" Tony has an electric and violent temper and that "junior" is everybody's favorite.

We all know some are good drivers and some are very good drivers and some are super drivers. We also know nothing in the world, short of a jet plane warming up; can equal the sound of 43 drivers coming off the starting line. Truly you can stand and look sideways at them and see only a blur. They get to drive the way some of us would like to drive on the freeway. When you consider the stresses they are under, their performances are incredible.

So what is involved in being a fan?

Watching as many races as possible either on TV or in person is a great start to becoming a true NASCAR fan. While watching TV coverage you can learn a lot about the technical side of racing, however listening on a scanner that broadcasts a team’s communications with each other can teach a lot about the team's emotions, reactions and temperament.

Having a favorite driver is essential to enjoying the sport, much in the same way that the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB are more enjoyable to watch when you have a favorite team to root for. If he truly upsets you and you get sick of him, pick another, but always have a favorite driver. Find as many admirable qualities in him as you can, such as: he never quits, he never intentionally hits anyone, he doesn't take anything off of anyone, and if you get in his way you're in trouble, etc.. The passion you project is more important than the principle. If your driver isn't always right, if he's a jerk off the track, (or on), defend him anyway as long as you like the way he drives. That’s what makes cheering on a driver in NASCAR so much fun.

After you’ve grown accustomed to watching the races, and have picked a favorite driver, the next stop is beginning to understand the rules of the sport. There are many technical guides online, but more frequently, if a major rule is broken, television announcers will make you aware of what has actually happened on the course.

Becoming a NASCAR is much less complicated than it appears to be, and it can be a lot of fun when you cheer on your favorite driver to cross the finish line and see those checkered flags.