On any given weekend during NASCAR season, thousands of fans pour into stadiums around the country to take part in a sport that is growing more popular every year. Tens of thousands of people gather around their television sets at home with their families every weekend to watch the races. NASCAR has become a household name and even those who are not fans still have some familiarity with the drivers. Ask just about anybody and they could tell you who Dale Earnhardt, Jr. or Danica Patrick are. NASCAR merchandise is sold in sporting goods and department stores all over the country as well as online and the demand for the sports products are growing all the time. So, what is it about NASCAR that makes the sport so popular?
Could it be the fact that many people identify with the sport by going all the way back to the days when they took part in soap box races? Maybe it started when they watched as their child raced down the road to win their first soapbox derby, or consoled them because their home-made race car didn’t quite have enough speed. Maybe you remember the hours spent in the garage with your Dad or your Mom, trying to create a faster soapbox racer because you were determined to win the next race?
It might not have seemed so important to us kids at the time, but one of the things that working on that old soapbox racer did was to bring families together. Whether Dad will admit it or not, he would get so caught up in the event that it was almost like his family’s reputation was at stake and he was determined to get his child to cross the finish line first in that rickety old soapbox racer.
Those old soapbox derby’s were the first step for many NASCAR drivers who would move on to go-cart racing and gradually move up until they found themselves in the drivers’ seat of a real NASCAR race car. Even then, many of the drivers’ would be guided by their father or grandfather who would work as a mechanic for the driver, or for a few, would even become their sons race car sponsor.
The one thing that Americans prize above all else is family. People may value many things in life, but when it comes down to it, they hold family above all else. Is it possible that we love NASCAR because, of all the sports, NASCAR has done more to promote a family image than any other sport? Whether it is a wife and children standing together with the driver while the National Anthem is sung, or the challenge of a son trying to continue the legacy of his father while attempting to create his own legacy for his children, NASCAR has become a very active promoter of family values.
Whatever the answer is, it looks like NASCAR has found a winning formula. As long as there are kids trying to win the race in an old soapbox, or families gathered round to cheer on their favorite driver, it appears that NASCAR’s future is secure. It would seem that America loves NASCAR, because NASCAR still represents our hometown family values!