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The Daytona 500 has been around for generations. We've not only seen stock car racing grow and evolve, for better or worse, but we've witnessed the same with the race itself. I'd like to start a memory-volley with race fans. I'll start with mine and I promise to keep it as short as possible.
The 90's - Growing up in the sticks in east Texas, sports that were not of the norm, were common place in small town Texas. For the city kids, their dads were probably part of a racquetball team, or they were into cycling. For some kids in my town, dirt track racing was as big as football. My dad never raced but I had a couple of friends who's dads did. I recall summers in my friend's dad's garage, trying to rebuild a go-kart, while his dad was trying to get his busted up dirt track car ready for the weekend's race. When you love dirt track, it was natural to love stock car racing as well. This was the era of Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Bill Elliot, Dale Earnhardt, and a new-comer who went by the name Jeff Gordon.
As a kid, we'd wear our favorite driver's shirts, and race our bikes in a circular dirt track in one our back yards. In fact, we had at least two different tracks, which made us feel like we were part of a racing circuit. In our minds, the shirts we wore while racing our bikes were no different than the jumpsuits the drivers wore and the numbers on the cars. There would be at least one of us announcing the play by play as the race unfolded.
One summer in particular stands out. My little brother and I, were racing in my parent's driveway. The race was going on the TV and the radio in the garage. We were racing big wheel trikes while the race went on. By this time, my favorite driver was quickly switched out from number 94, Bill Elliot, to number 24, the Rainbow warrior himself, Jeff Gordon. Jeff Gordon was the Micheal Jordan of Nascar at this time. Love him or hate him, he was on fire that year. I believe it was 97, and that was the year he won.
At any rate, there's my story. Would love to hear any of yours.