By AMY BEELER CARTWRIGHT, Bristol Fan

My father was racing on the night I was born.  I’m pretty sure I had spent every Saturday night until I was 13 years old on the circle dirt tracks of Southern Ohio. 

Like many teenage girls I rebelled against my upbringing and stopped going racing somewhere in my teens.  But later in my twenties, I discovered NASCAR.  Like an old habit suppressed deep in my subconscious, this new obsession grabbed onto me, and I was addicted. 

I followed the sport faithfully on the television.  Every race day, time stood still and all other commitments fell by the wayside.  I watched the pre-race; I watched “THE RACE”; and, I watched the post race.  I had satellite TV; I had HDTV; and, I had in-car audio. 

Then I got tickets to Bristol!

The first time I saw Bristol Motor Speedway, I was in awe of its sheer magnitude.  Looking from the outside, walking up to the speedway, I silently wondered, where is the track.  Surely, I thought, I could see a glimpse before going inside the gates. 

The excitement built in me with each step toward the track!  A mass of random people moving in the same direction as I was, almost as if we were pulled by some unseen force.  The closer I got to the track, the more people that were around me, the more excitement built within me.  I was no longer an individual attending an event.  The excitement made me part of the event; I realized I was part of Bristol!

I made it through the gates; my bags were checked and my ticket was scanned.  I walked through the corridor and followed a short line of people heading into the stands.  When I made it to the top of my short flight of stairs, my senses were sent into an amazing stir.  I was standing on the edge of what truly appeared to be a coliseum

There were seats all around me that would be filled with those that shared the same passion as I.  As my eyes drifted to the bottom of the coliseum, I saw such a beautiful sight. The track looked up me, and I looked down at it and all I could think was wow!  The air was filled heavy with the smells of racing.  The colors of the cars were so vivid before my eyes. 

I finally reached my seat and settled in to watch a wonderful race!  I was in my seat, I was out of my seat, I was elated, I was mad.  I enjoyed the wonderful spectrum of emotion that each fan feels during the race but I was there.  I can still recall the burnout of the victorious driver but I couldn’t tell you who it was.  I can still feel my pulse rise when I think about that day. 

After the race, I went back home and I still enjoy my race day… But it’s nothing like being there!  When you are at Bristol, you are part of the race and part of the excitement.  It is part of you. There is no satellite TV, no HDTV, or in car audio that even comes close to the feeling of being a part of the race when you are there!  Thank goodness March and August!  Thank goodness for Bristol!