I’m not a fan of NASCAR. I never watched the sport growing up and wasn’t really into cars in general. However, since I’ve lived in Corning, I have become fond of NASCAR weekend at Watkins Glen International for many reasons… most of which I can mention on this blog.
The sports I did grow up with are football and hockey, the two major leagues represented in my hometown of Buffalo. If I really had a choice, I would not have selected to follow two teams that had taken 6 collective trips to their respective championships with a total winning record of ZERO. The truth is that I didn’t have a choice; if you grew up anywhere in Erie County, you’d understand. I don’t think that phenomenon is unique to Buffalo, though – all over the country, children idolize their regional professional sports teams. It’s sacrilegious to root against the Cowboys in Dallas, unthinkable to live in Cleveland and not love the Cavs, downright unspeakable to mention any baseball team but the Red Sox in Boston.
But what about Corning? What about Watkins Glen? Even Elmira, with the Jackals and Pioneers, is missing that professional connection. Well, for one weekend each year, the best of the absolute best in their sport come right here to compete late in the season for a chance at a playoff bid. Whether you love Danica, Junior, or Boris Said, there’s one thing everyone here can root for: NASCAR. It’s when our towns are on the national stage; when our kids hear their favorite analysts breaking down the multi-turn road coarse, mentioning the Finger Lakes, referencing the history of racing that includes the very streets on which we drive.
So even though I’m not a fan of NASCAR – I don’t watch it all year and break down the drivers and their pit crews, car performance and driving techniques – I’m still a fan of sports. I love the role they play in uniting a community, no matter how small or niche-y it may be. I love seeing the expression of talent that unfolds when someone spends an entire lifetime becoming the best at what they do.
And every year, I love sitting in the stands on Sunday afternoon with a cheap beer, sleeveless t-shirt, and no sun block on the back of my neck because I can’t think of a better way to make it red. JUNIOR!