NASCAR, noise and a good day

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, April 26, 2023

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I’ve heard people say that you’ll never forget the loud noise NASCAR’S next-gen cars make on race day.

This editor experienced that last Sunday at the GEICO 500 at Talladega Speedway in Talladega.

About a month ago, I applied for press credentials because the lure of covering a Cup Series race in my home state was magnetic.

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Upon approval, photographers slated for the race met virtually with NASCAR officials to go over some rules for race day. The rules consisted of where to stand, where not to stand, what to wear (a bib) and other small, housekeeping stuff.

As race day approached, and for some reason, I got really nervous. That tends to happen whenever I’m not familiar of what kind of situation I’m walking in to.

I’ve never covered a NASCAR race before, so this was all quite new to me. As the week leading up went along, I kept imagining myself covering the race and not being in the right spot as officials asked me to please move along.

My press credentials were for the whole weekend, which included the truck series, the ARCA and Xfinity races on Saturday and the main event on Sunday.

I wish I could’ve made it to the other races, but hotel rooms were scarce, and too expensive if a vacancy was listed.

I decided to make it a day of it, and decided to attend Sunday’s Cup Series race because it was strongly encouraged even if I couldn’t make the Xfinity race.

But, I was still nervous.

Last Saturday, I did a little work in the morning and chilled the rest of the day. It’s funny, thinking back, I looked at myself in the mirror soon before bed, and told myself, “You’re going to show up at the race tomorrow, and everything’s going to be fine.”

That’s exactly what happened.

I left Atmore at around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, and arrived at the speedway just after 9 a.m., making good time.

I didn’t know where to go, but with the help of some kind track officials, I got pointed in the right direction, picked up my press credentials and found the media center.

For the better part of the day, I observed what my fellow journalists were doing, how they interacted with each other and other things. After all, this was my first race to cover and to attend. In a way, I was soaking it all in.

I managed to find a photo tower just over pit road (where the drivers come in to get fuel, tire changes and such) right before the start of the race. After the pre-race ceremonies concluded, and the engine call was held, the drivers began the warm up laps before the green-flag start.

A fellow photographer who was there shooting pictures for fun as his work concluded on Saturday, gave me a tip to shoot the race. The tip worked, and I was pleased with my pictures.

But, my favorite moment came just a short few minutes later. As I relayed my favorite moment of the day to my brother and parents following the race, it gave me goose bumps.

Prior to the cars going full speed on the track, they speed up at the same time in a cohesive unit.

That was a site to see, and seeing the cars coming around turn four at more than 180 miles per hour was a thrill.

The race took almost 4 hours to complete, but seemed like it went by fast, no puns intended.

I wrote my story and got on the road, getting back to Atmore at a few minutes to midnight Sunday.

I smiled as I walked into my abode as it was a good day.