THIS I BELIEVE
Some people go to church on Sundays. Some stay home to spend time with their children, do some gardening or peruse the New York Times, comfortably reclined in their armchair, perhaps frowning over the crossword puzzle or sipping chamomile tea. Not me. My Sunday rituals couldn’t be more opposite. Let me elaborate.
During the week I go to graduate school; stuff my head with relevant (and irrelevant) theories, discuss abstract ideas, argue for or against certain issues – in other words, I submerse myself in the world of academia with its lofty ideals and intangible constructs.
But not on Sundays. From mid February until November I spend my Sunday afternoons in front of the TV, swigging Budweiser’s and yelling at the top of my lungs at 40-something cars turning left for about 5 hours straight. Yes, I am a die-hard NASCAR fan. On Sundays, I trade my corduroys for a pair of jeans and a Jeff Gordon T-shirt. I shove my backpack under the bed, unhook the phone, leave the Merlot in the cabinet, and grab the Bud out of the fridge.
I don’t do it halfway either. I go for full impact . NASCAR roars on top volume on the big screen TV. Online I follow the digital transmission of the race as well as the radio communication between my favorite driver (Jeff Gordon) and his crew. Basically I am dead to the world for the duration of a race.
My obsession with NASCAR started after I moved to the US. I grew up in Austria where I went to an elite private high school and listened to my parents discuss medicine (they’re both MD’s). However, even over there in the “old country“, my Sunday’s consisted of following sleek Formula One cars zoom across the screen. I remember their engines as more refined than those of their American cousins, emitting an arrogant, nasal (kind of French!) pitch instead of the guttural rumble a stockcar engine lets loose. Nevertheless, car racing’s car racing, and after moving to the US I quickly traded my argyle Formula One scarf for a beat-up “24” baseball hat.
I believe that most things in life need or should be offset by another, because nature prefers a state of balance. I balance my intellectual life with enjoying the simple, raw power of NASCAR. Everything is tangible, from pit crews to gas cans, from the grandstands to the greasy fries, from the checkered flag to the “cutaway car” TV stations use to explain the inner workings of a stockcar. There are no questions that need answered, no theories that could be challenged. For 5 hours every Sunday a bunch of cars go around in circles like maniacs, announcers yell over the noise, fans shake their fists and toss their empty cans. Gasoline leaks, tires go flying, and cars go end-over-end. Metal distorts, brakes scream in outrage, and transmissions give up. And me, backpack well out of side, legs up and beer in hand, love every single minute of it.
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