Ultimate FansPosted by Fred
The Giants led the Eagles 17-14 with fewer than four seconds to go. This was clearly the last play of the game. McNab dropped back and let one fly, fifty-one yards in the air. The ball arched lazily toward his receiver’s outstretched finger tips as he approached the goal line and … three huge guys in front of me stood up!
Yankees-Red Sox, score tied, bottom of the eleventh. There was one out with the bases loaded and Jeter at the plate. He reached for a changeup and dribbled it back to the mound. As the pitcher reached for the ball he stumbled and the crowd went wild. I heard someone yell, “Double play!” as a group of cigar-chomping beer drinkers and a large lady in a large hat with a large feather jumped to their feet … I saw nothing!
Get it? Well, I don’t. Everything came flooding back to me last weekend when Vigi and I went to The Gillette Fusion Proglide 500. It was only our second NASCAR race and the first with a name that long. After the deluge, complete with lightning, thunder and hailstones, the track was dried, the skies cleared and we settled back for an afternoon of thrills and chills … especially chills now that we were soaked to the skin.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m big on photography. In fact if I’m not taking pictures, many activities hold comparatively little meaning for me. On this day, it was not to be … not without a head, hand or waving hat centered in the scene. Instead of breathtaking moments of skillfully piloted vehicles traveling at speeds approaching 200 MPH, I wound up with a collection of body parts and brightly colored clothing. I’ll never figure how one woman got her leg that high into the air! It turns out racing fans like to stand at critical moments just the same as fans of any other sport … but with a few new wrinkles.
The first thing I discovered was that some folks like being on their feet during the entire race. Just when I thought I had perfected a technique for dealing with ‘the pop-up syndrome’, there on my left was a perpetual stander who also liked to give ‘okay’ signals to the speeding cars and salute them with his beer can every time they went by. In front of me was a pair of ponytailed Mutt ‘n Jeff maidens who seemed to feel the need to wave and point the direction of travel to the drivers. Now, while not a seasoned veteran of NASCAR, I’ve yet to see any vehicle intentionally traveling in the wrong direction. Mutt was the chubbier of the two, wore the number or garment of nearly every driver in the race, and had “Darrell” tattooed across her ankle. Jeff was more subdued and just swayed a lot.
To the right was an older gentleman with a shaggy white mustache and a stoic look on his face, who stood with arms akimbo throughout the entire event. His eyes were fixed at the exact same point on the track no matter where the cars were. He had risen for “The Star Spangled Banner” and stayed that way for the rest of the race. I believe he was awake most of the time.
The thing I don’t get is, after expensive arenas are carefully crafted to provide graduated seating that allows every spectator a clear view, why do people feel the need to stand up? Even when I was younger, sitting down for three or four hours always felt more comfortable. Funny thing is, those same people not actually using their seats would probably be the first to complain if they encountered a standing room only situation!
Back when I first discovered the Earth didn’t revolve around me, it was a shock … but I’ve grown accustomed to the idea. Don’t get me wrong, the NASCAR crowd was one of the nicest, most pleasant groups of individuals you’d ever want to meet. The operative word here is individuals. After “Gentlemen start your engines,” all awareness of anything that isn’t careening through a series of left turns on the track disappears and they meld into ultimate fans.
Next time maybe I’ll pack a small taser into my camera case instead of a telephoto lens. That would be a show-stopper no matter who gets stuck in the pits!
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