The 2011 beginning of the NASCAR racing season is just two days away. The season starts in mid February with the Daytona 500, held in Daytona Beach, FL and lasts most of the year ending with the Ford 400, raced in Homestead, FL, in November. The Daytona 500 is the most prestigious and lucrative of the four major NASCAR Sprint Cup Series which is one aspect of the sport that sets it apart from others. While other major sports work up to a Championship event, NASCAR starts with one.
Another aspect of this sport that distinguishes it from others is it’s fans. While other sports can boast loyal and involved female fans, NASCAR’s female fans are knowledgeable, loyal and passionate, says driver David Ragan in an article from The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “The women are passionate about one driver and they’re usually decked out from head to toe in gear… That’s cool to see.” And competitive. That’s how driver Clint Bowyer describes them, saying they even more competitive than male fans.
Who is the typical female NASCAR fan? Doey eyed girls who just swoon over good-looking drivers? Housewives just taking an interest in their husband’s obsession? Oh, no. They are much more savvy than that.
Lisa DeSpain, NASCAR fan and blogger for RubbingsRacing.Com says,
“While I have met women who follow the sport because they think “Kasey Kahne has the most beautiful blue eyes ever”, or because their boyfriend or husband is into it, I know quite a few who can talk stats, tracks, and smack about their drivers as well as or better than some hardcore male NASCAR fans.
I’ve talked to numerous women who don’t care what color a driver’s eyes are as long as he can see well enough to stay out of trouble. They can quote team stats and qualifying times. They support their driver rain, shine, win, or lose and will fight for his honor with anyone who puts him down. Make no mistake, women are fans every bit as much as men.”
A 2007 article from CBS news claims that over 40 percent of NASCAR fans are women and that number is growing. In that article, Ruth Crowley of Motorsports Authentics says, “I think women like the sport of racing because it’s fast. There’s this element of danger. There’s an element of skill. And it’s just something that they can enjoy. You know, women understand the sport of racing. And I think that there’s pieces of this sport that really appeal to them.”
Taking this information, I decided to look into it a little more. We’re a network of women, what do our members have to say about being NASCAR fans? I caught up with three of our members, all longtime NASCAR fans, who were more than willing to answer some questions and dish about their favorite sport: Carrie, from Carrie With Children , Julee from Mommy’s Memorandum, and Lisa, from Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy!
We’ll start with the obvious, “What do you like about racing?”
Carrie: I love the speed and excitement of the races! How could you not love watching cars go over 180mph just inches away from another car?! I really love getting to know the personalities of all the different drivers, even if it is just through my television each week! There is truly someone for everyone.
Julee: Racing is exciting! I love cheering for my driver and seeing different tracks and learning about how they came to be.
Lisa: I love the intensity of it. I know a lot of people think its boring, just cars going in circles. But if you understand it, it really is an intense sport. And if you see it live….you can’t beat the feeling the roar of the motors in your chest. And I also think that if you watch the sport very long you get drawn in by the drivers personally. You get to know which drivers are friends and which clearly aren’t. There’s a lot of external stuff going on that makes it more interesting.
And how long have you been a fan?
Carrie: since I was a kid
Julee: since I was sixteen (that’s 25 years ago!)
Lisa: for more than 10 years
Who introduced you to the sport?
Carrie: It’s really all my grandfather’s fault. He used to set his VCR each Sunday to record the races, just so he could watch them again later in the week. As a kid, I would always love it when my grandfather would ask which race I’d like to watch with him…and he’d open the cabinet and have stacks of old racing videos.
Julee: My dad introduced me to racing and I picked, then rookie, Jeff Gordon, to be my driver. It was based more on his looks, rather than his driving ability and I’ve been cheering him on ever since!
Lisa: I became a fan through my friends but then when my husband and I got together we went to a race our first summer together and seeing and feeling it live was what really hooked me.
Do you travel to races? Do you accommodate your schedule to be able to watch races?
Carrie: I live in Florida and have been to a few different races in Daytona. The last race I attended was the Daytona 500 in 2008. Although I love watching the races on TV, it’s always exciting to be there in person. You can just feel the energy! Now that I’m a mom, traveling is limited but I hope that when my girls are old enough we can take them to a race one day!
Julee: I’ve never been to a NASCAR race in person. My dad and I usually watch the races together on Sundays.
Lisa: I’ve never traveled for a race but would consider it. We used to plan around races more but it’s hard now with my kids getting older and having so many activities, so now we just DVR races.
So, are you loyal only to NASCAR or do you also watch Indy League racing?
Carrie: I’m loyal to NASCAR. I’ve tried many times to watch the Indy League but I just can’t do it.
Julee: Indy Legue Racing is only watched over Memorial Day weekend at our house. It’s not a big deal if we find ourselves camping instead.
Lisa: I only watch NASCAR. It’s hard for me to get into if I don’t know the drivers, so I stick with just Sprint series.
Most importantly, who’s your driver?
Carrie: I’m a Dale Earnhardt, Jr fan!
Julee: Out of loyalty I cheer on Jeff Gordon…always.
Lisa: I have several favorites but they change as the years go by so really its the sport I love.
While they are not scientific findings, it was refreshing to see that, for the most part, the answers these ladies gave fall in line with what is generally being said about female race fans. They are loyal, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and passionate!
What about you? Does NASCAR rev your engine?