As a child I grew up on the poor side, never having much of anything, and never getting the opportunity to experience any fun filled adventures. My mother was a single parent who struggled to keep food on the table, my dad did what he could but he had remarried, and his new wife had four kids of her own. Still to this day I can’t recall looking back and remembering a happy time that will make me take a step back and put a smile on my face. Early on I swore with every breath I had I would do my best not to let my kids experience hard times. I realize hard times are inevitable and life happens but we still need to “grab those horns and live life to the fullest.” Don’t get me wrong being on the poor side doesn’t mean you can’t experience life long-lasting memories; unfortunately my two siblings and I did not get that opportunity.
“Family first” that’s my motto, giving my kid’s the opportunities and adventuress experience’s that I was never able to enjoy as a child. As a family my husband Joe and I, my daughter Vanessa who is 15, and my twin boys Jeremy and Jacob who turns 12 this month plan family trips together, rather it be a three day weekend to the mountains with the fresh smell of the tall pines, or just a day trip to the lake to throw their rods in to see if the fish are biting, and jumping in afterwards to cool off. Then there is “Nascar”, that is our big vacation that we take twice a year at Phoenix International Raceway. The kids are overly excited about it, they talk about it year around, they save all their money to spend at the merchandise trailers. We take our camping trailer and camp on the outfield. Our friends Joe and Kathy, their daughter Peggy who is my best friend, have a spot on the infield right by pit row. We tram back and forth daily to the infield to watch the race with them, we stay all 5 days.
The big day, (Race Day) that’s my kid’s favorite part. The roar of the fan’s, the smell of the burning rubber in the crisp air, as the sun warms your face, and of course the soft wave the extremely hot driver’s give to the kid’s as they pass by, and most of time they will even stop to sign an autograph or pose for a picture, my daughter Vanessa has an autographed picture of Kasey Kahne that’s her driver. Then there’s the down to earth friendly people you meet like other fan’s, and the pit crew members that pass back and forth from the pit stalls to the garage to get more tires or gas, with sweat pouring from their face. Yet never the less they take the time to slow down and give the kid’s some lung nuts, gloves, hats or even a piece of a car (which my son Jeremy has a piece of Kyle Petty’s fender on his bedroom wall, and my other son Jacob has Jeff Gordon’s spring rubber from the inside of his tire), and if nothing else a high five as they pass by with a smile whether their driver is doing good or not. For those of you that don’t know track talk, pit row is where the race cars come in during the race to get gas, tires, or anything else they might need, the garage is where they keep everything stored.
I believe last year’s November race, is the most memorable race for my kid’s, the National Guard was parked next to our friends and my family in the infield, which at that time they sponsored Casey Mear’s # 25. The Soldiers were extraordinary; they took our kid’s under their wings and treated them as if they were a part of their family. The soldiers took them for rides on the hum vie golf cart, they played football with them daily, and they even allowed the boy’s to wear their hats (which I have a picture of). To this day, while watching the race on Sunday my boy’s will say, “Look mom there is Sergeant Stone and Corporal Cooper.” It’s people like the Pit Crew members and the National Guard Soldiers that teach our kid’s the meaning of life with dignity and respect in today’s world.
That night after the race, as we all sat around the campfire, with the smell of the wood burning and the cool breeze of the night air, we reminisce of the events that took place that day, we talk about the past races and races to come, and which race were the most memorable. We watch as the kids slowly start to come down from their natural high, giggling and talking about who got more from the pit crew members. Their tired little bodies dragging from all the running around that day, getting autographs or just simply playing with the kids camped around us, with a smile still on their faces. It’s all about making lasting memories they can carry on with them and later on share with their children and grandchildren, something for them to look back on and say “I remember when…” with a smile.
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