We arrived at Lake Erie Speedway, my family and I, just as the heat races started. My husband works on Sundays (no surprise there, most pastors do!), so we took him out for his Father’s Day celebration on Saturday night to see the races in Erie, PA. I’d never been to a speedway before, and I was impressed with how loud the noise was — a mechanized roar filled my ears before we even passed through the entry gates. I dug into my pocket for my ear plugs. Once I wouldn’t have worried about the deafening buzz in the air, but those days are gone. Now there is no denying that the keen sense of hearing I once possessed has begun to fade — not a lot, but still enough that I notice. I do wish to hang onto the level of auditory acuity I still have — so in went the plugs!
The “real” races wouldn’t start for almost an hour, but the stands were filling up. Everything I think I know about racing I learned from watching Talladega Nights, Turbo, and Cars, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was struck by the variety of attendees. There were families with kids and toddlers (many – but not all –sporting headphones and ear plugs), couples of all ages, teenagers (some watching the races intently, others more interested in their phones), and senior citizens — everyday folks for the most part, out for a night of entertainment.
After the heats, the crowd settled in for the start of the competitions. A final rush of attendees made their way into the stands and found seats. The announcer invited us to stand for an opening prayer, followed by the playing of an instrumental recording of O, Canada, and then the singing of our National Anthem – The Star Spangled Banner. This was followed by a small burst of fireworks, and then the first racers sped onto the circuit.
At 3/8 of a mile, the Lake Erie Speedway is a very short track. The cars whip around the track in no time, and while it’s fun to see how the mechanics have tricked out (or in some cases, patched together) the vehicles, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I wasn’t going to join the ranks of die-hard racing fans. Because the main thing that happens is that the cars drive around in a big oval…over and over and over again.
That’s pretty much it.
Unless there is an accident. Or unless a driver has engine trouble, or maybe a piece of a car (say a fender or something like that) detaches from the vehicle and flies across the track. Then you have a bit of excitement — but only for a moment. And maybe I’m being a bit too sensitive, but I started to feel guilty — hoping for an accident to keep me entertained seems a touch insensitive, amiright? Mind, I didn’t want to see a car-in-flames-driver-mangled-for-life accident — no, just a spinning-out, wheel popping off sort of situation…but still.
Seemed wrong somehow.
So, no, I won’t be joining the crazed legions of American Nascar devotees anytime soon. (I might be up for another viewing of Talladega Nights, though — I’m not made of stone, after all.) But I enjoyed experiencing something new, seeing a few crazy dust-ups on the track, and best of all, hanging out with my husband and the kids. We capped off our night at the races with a late dinner at Steak ‘n Shake before motoring home for the evening.
All in all, a wonderful evening with my family!