Anderson Motor Speedway
This may be blasphemous to admit in this region but I do not care about NASCAR. I do not have any interest in which driver makes all his left turns the fastest or which car manufacturer wins more races. The little I know about Tony Stewart is all I need to know to this he is kind of a jerk.

This is how I generally feel about the sport of racing but there is an exception to every rule and I have a big one to confess… I love going to the racetrack.

Allow me to explain this shameless contradiction; I have been to two NASCAR events in my life and they were absolutely phenomenal experiences.  I did not need to know who the drivers were or what they were driving. All I needed to know was that the energy and excitement that the race produced was unlike anything I could ever grasp through a television screen. The roar of the engines screaming past me is unlike anything I have ever felt. 

As far as sporting events go, I have been pretty fortunate.  I have seen the Yankees in the World Series, I have seen Michael Jordan hit a jump shot, and I have seen Roy Jones Jr. almost knock a guy out of the ring onto George Foreman’s lap. I will remember these experiences for as long as I live yet none of them rattled my bones like thousands of horsepower roaring past me at almost two hundred miles an hour less than 50 feet away from me (with only a chain link fence to protect me should things not work out).

So, why did it take me almost eight years of living in Anderson to finally visit the racetrack less than 15 minutes from my home?

Honestly, I never thought that a little Anderson racetrack could even begin to produce the type of excitement I had found at the Charlotte and Indianapolis Motor Speedways. I could not have been more wrong. I quickly discovered that the scale of the event is not directly related to the amount of fun it can offer.
Two adults and a child can enter the Anderson Motor Speedway on a Friday night for $25. Given the cost of a movie ticket these days, I found this to be pretty reasonable for family entertainment at the end of a long work week. Unlike the movie theater though, you are able to bring in your own snacks and beverages (no glass please) so my wallet did not have to seek crisis counseling after the event just because I got a little thirsty. 

Once I was inside I realized quickly that this was nothing like a NASCAR event... it was better. First of all, you can see the entire track which is something I never enjoyed at the major league events of my past. Never losing sight of the cars means you do not miss any of the action (especially wrecks) and you do not have to look around at your fellow race-fans with looks of confusion and wonder as you hear the other half of the crowd erupt a quarter-mile away. 

The first cars we watched at the Anderson Motor Speedway were more reminiscent of the demolition derby than any race cars I had ever seen previously.  Four cylinder Civics and Neons stripped of all unnecessary weight and accoutrements sped (well, sometimes puttered) around the track in a series of five lap races.  It was like Too Fast Too Furious without all the investment in obnoxious paint jobs and bad mufflers. The result is the race car version of Short Attention Span Theater and we could not have asked for anything more. My wife and son and I were giddy with excitement as we placed our “bets” on which cars we thought would win each race… it was like the Kentucky Derby at a junk yard!

As the evening went on the cars got bigger, faster, and louder and the fun-factor rose in accord. We watched our new favorite cars win, lose, crash, break down and even burst into flames. By the end of the night we were watching cars that looked like the ones you see on TV, except they seemed way too big and way too fast for this little track.  The power of these machines in contest with the talent of the drivers to control them in such a small arena was truly a gift to witness.

One of the biggest things that struck me was the family friendly nature we experienced at the Anderson Motor Speedway. Sure, you had a few beer-guzzling idiots in attendance but no more than any other event that welcomes the general public. The prevailing percentage of the population was, simply put, people that just wanted to put a long week behind them by taking in some honest American fun. Also, there was no shortage of wide-eyed little kids in awe of the events unfolding before them.  Every race held its own story and the younger segment of the crowd hung on their every word. 

To be honest, if I had paused to look in a mirror I might have found myself to be a little wide-eyed along with them. As far as “Family Date Nights” go, this is one we have definitely remembered and look forward to doing again.
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