A couple of years ago my mom's name was drawn at work to go, courtesy of them, to the Kansas Speedway for an Indy car race. Her work has four seats that they "own" at the speedway and they put their employees names in for each race to determine who gets to go. In May of 2010, mom took B, Steven and I, knowing that B loves all things "boy" and all things fast.
He loved the cars and he loved the race.
His only complaint was that there weren't any wrecks.
(See what I mean about loving all things "boy"?)
You see, NASCAR is more his speed. Wrecks. Drama. "If it's not rubbin', it's not racin.".
And for reasons still not known to us, he chose 24 as his number. Although Steven and I have watched local stock car races, we aren't what you would consider avid race fans. We recognize most drivers names, but don't really have a favorite. However, a few years ago B decided he was a Jeff Gordon fan, all based on the fact that he liked the number 24, and Jeff happened to be the driver.
So when this spring mom's name was drawn for this October's NASCAR race, mom knew that she was definitely sharing the experience with the closest thing to a race fan our family has: B.
We drove up the night before and grabbed a bite to eat and some zzzz's. B was almost as enthused by getting to eat at the "Big Boy", which was celebrating it's 50th anniversary, as he was about getting to go to the race.
The next morning B, armed with his Kansas Speedway flag, that he had kept from his visit two years ago, jumped in the car and counted down the miles until we met our destination.
To say he was excited would be an understatement.
Once inside we thought that we would use our complimentary Track Passes and head down to the track area and fan walk.
Of course, as the roar of engines filled the air, the boys were found with their noses up against the fence, getting as close as they could to the action....and the cars.
B made his way to the winners circle and found his place on the stage......
(It was about this time that my point and shoot camera bit the dust, leaving me to rely on my iphone camera.)
B was fascinated with all the action that was taking place all around him. As we made our way towards the pits, we were unsure if we were actually allowed to go up close to the crews. As we were trying to find our way to the #24 pit stop, we asked an employee guarding the gate if we were, indeed, allowed in. She assured us we were. With a little spring in our step we decided to walk the entire pit row, only to be stopped a few feet later and were told by a different 'guard' that we, in fact, did NOT have proper credentials.
So, we did what anybody would do.....
We went back in the direction of the the guard who let us by, and walked by half of the pit stops in pit row. One, incidentally, being #24's. Luck was with us and a crew member was gracious enough to pause and take a picture with B.
Although B was super excited for the race, and was ready to go to our seats 3 hours prior to race time, we convinced him there was more to be seen outside of the track.
Here is where I am going to insert shameless bragging about my kids.... My kids take pride in themselves being "cheapscapers". They have given themselves this name and like to find ways to save money. However, since the whole race experience was free, I thought that he might enjoy having a souvenir to take home. On me (of course). We stopped outside of the Jeff Gordon trailer and he thoughtfully looked at all they had to offer.
"You want a shirt? That one's cute!", I encouraged. After some deliberation he finally took my hand, shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't really want anything other than to see the race...." and he walked away. I looked at my mom with my eyebrows raised and I am sure that she was thinking what I was thinking....
There was NO way that, as a child, I would have EVER turned down an offer for something. Anything. Yet here he was, simply satisfied with what he had.
As we all should be.
None too soon for B, he and Steven made their way to our seats while mom and I went and grabbed our coolers full of drinks and snacks. He didn't want to miss a thing and apparently didn't notice by all the empty seats around him that there was no big rush....
A little while later, succumbing to the lure of walking on the track, we made our way down to the track and infield, where B paused to write his name on the start/finish line.
We thought we might get a glimpse of Jeff Gordon when they introduced the drivers and decided to wait and see.
Despite resting for mere seconds, we didn't have long to wait before we made our way to take our stand by the pits.
B waved his flag to all the drivers as they passed by, but never as enthusiastically as when Jeff Gordon was within his sights.
We made our way back to our seats in plenty of time to savor the moment he had been waiting for...... "Drivers, start your engines...."
The roar of the crowd was but a whisper in comparison to the roar of the engines. B's excitement built with each lap and I would often glance at him and see him tense his body in anticipation to the point of shaking. At lap 124, his driver was in first. I pointed at the tower displaying the leaders and he nodded his head, unsurprised and said, "Yeah. Makes sense. Lap 124 and #1 is 24." Yeah. Perfect sense. Why didn't I think of that?
And although I am not a die hard NASCAR fan, I am a complete fan of my kids and an enthusiastic, cheering spectator to their lives. I have never experienced a high like watching my child experience theirs. It is a show like none other. And although the race tickets were free, I would pay top dollar for front row tickets to that show, my child's "show", every. single. time.