I was Dale Earnhardt's #1 Fan!
One thing that a lot of people I know now don't know about me is that............I was Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s most devoted fan. At least in my mind I was! When I got interested in racing I did not know the first thing about it in 1989. As I watched the races every week with a bunch of people that all had a favorite driver, I reserved the choice of picking my favorite until I was more familiar with the sport. None of the people I watched the races with liked Dale Earnhardt Sr.. They would be cheering for him to lose every time. I never said a word, just watched.
I even loved his car!
I learned a lot and by the time they learned that I had chose "The Intimidator" as my favorite driver, I was ready for these "good excuse to get drunk on Sunday race fans". I would always say, "I don't have to defend him. His record speaks for itself." And it did. He was the BEST and will always be the best as far as I am concerned.
Davey Allison & me!
One of the things I used to do was to try to meet the drivers and get my picture with them. I met Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki. I volunteered at Watkins Glen and camped out there in the camping area for the volunteers. That was a fun time. The rules were that you had to volunteer at two other events to be allowed to work at the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. So I did that and that was fun too. One of these events was a vintage car race and that was really awesome! I am glad I saw that.
At the Pocono Raceway, my friends and I would go during the week when the drivers competed for the pole position for the Sunday race. That was the most fun. For one thing it wasn't as crowded and you got your chance to meet the drivers. Later, we would go to the Holiday Inn where most of the drivers were staying. In the restaurant and bar we'd get the chance to meet them and their crews. I met Dale Earnhart's crew and owner, Richard Childress one of those times. I never got the opportunity to meet Dale. He stayed in the hotel and everyone said you would not see him downstairs in the restaurant and bar.
I went to the NASCAR races in Dover DE, Charlotte, NC, Watkins Glen, NY and Pocono, PA. I learned the points system and kept track of the points, and I knew who drove and owned every car. So after a short time, when I was at the races, my friends would turn around to ask ME, who drove what car and who was the owner of this car, etc.. I loved it, that I had learned more than the veteran race fans and they were even asking me for information.
Bill Elliot's Crew At Watkins Glen
One of the best things about working at Watkins Glen was you were behind the scenes. You were allowed in areas that is usually only reserved for the drivers, crews, owners, reporters and family of drivers. There is a lot of excitement getting things ready for the actual race. I know things have changed much since the time I did this, and hope they still allow volunteers. It is a good opportunity for race fans to do this at least once.
Nothing beats watching a NASCAR race in person!
After Dale Earnhardt Sr. was killed on the last lap of the Daytona 500 on February 18th in 2001, which fortunately I was not watching, I gave up watching this sport. I just had no interest in it anymore without him behind the wheel of his black and silver Goodwrench #3 Chevrolet. I know he was a Godly man, and that did make our loss of this great driver easier to bear.
Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole