By Robert Schloemer, NASCAR Fan Contributer – Follow on Twitter @SchloemerZ
What do most people think about when they think about Texas motor speedway? A cookie cutter 1.5-mile oval? A repave disaster? A boring race?
How about one of the biggest events for a huge demographic?
I am a Texan, loud and proud. Texans love sports. Texans spend a lot of money on sports. Texans also love cars, trucks and racing. Texas is a huge demographic. And that is why Texas Motor Speedway is so important.
I’ve done the math. I live in San Antonio. The next closest tracks to me are Kansas, Phoenix, and Talladega. All three of these tracks are a 13-plus hour drive, while Texas Motor Speedway is four hours from me.
The Cup race at Texas may not be the most exciting race ever, but it’s a NASCAR race, it is what us diehard fans in Texas live for. And let me tell you, before you diss on Texas Motor Speedway, you should go for a weekend. Eddie Gossage and the fine folks at TMS put on a heck of a fun time.
Gossage, the track president, is one of the most outgoing and fan engaging track presidents and promoters I see right now in NASCAR. I had the privilege of meeting him this weekend as he stood, in an apron, personally filling up Slurpees for guests at the on-site 7-Eleven. He took the time to say hello to my two kiddos, shake their hands and fist bump, and ask them if they are having fun.
TMS puts a lot of work into kids, which I think is very important. While we were walking around Saturday morning, we were stopped by an employee who saw my two boys and handed them free tickets to a private, kids only meet and greet and autograph sessions with Alex Bowman and Ty Dillon. The parents had to stay behind a rope, and the kids just got too interact with the drivers. Something, they will never forget.
My kids also participated in the dash for cash put on by Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse. This provided us something we have never been able to do before, go inside the track. I have never had the opportunity to go beyond the fence at any track I’ve been to, so to say it was a cool experience would be a huge understatement. There, my kids got to meet Larson and Stenhouse, which they really enjoyed, and we got to walk pit road.
While on pit road, pit crew members were eager to high-five the kids, make them feel important, show them the wheels and tools and even provide them with lug nuts. Who would have thought lug nuts would be such a big deal right? My boys kept the lug nuts in their pockets until we got all the way back to San Antonio and probably brought them to school today to show their friends.
No, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race wasn’t the flat-out best race ever (though the trucks and Xfinity races were insanely good) but the track did its part to provide ever lasting memories for two new NASCAR fans.
Something they will never, ever forget.
Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images