My husband asked if I’d like to see the new Indiana Jones movie tonight. Thought a sec, then replied that I considered the first ones dumb, so I’d pass. He cocked an eyebrow. Okay, I admitted, maybe I’d reconsider. After all, I gave up all pretensions to intellectual superiority when I dove headfirst into NASCAR and its attendant circus. When did I choose to hide my Phi Beta Kappa key to wear a Kevin Harvick T-shirt and Ward Burton earrings? What possessed me to put down my Tom Friedman book for NASCAR Scene?
The tale is not an old one in terms of time. Sometime in the fall of 2005, I think it was, my agent asked if I’d be interested in writing NASCAR books for Harlequin. Easy, she said. Knock 'em out with your eyes closed. Never one to turn down the option to make money, I figured I’d watch some races on TV and get the lingo down pat. My husband, a racing fan but not of NASCAR, suggested a fall race at a small track, Richmond. He’d heard it was a good show. Pick up on the atmosphere. Get authentic. Okay, I said. Richard Petty, when I checked online, was appearing at the Fanzone. I’d heard of Petty. Funky hat and dark glasses. Bone-thin with a real drawl. Cowboy boots. Maybe I could ask him a few racing questions. (Remember my intellectual pretensions. . . )
Little did we know tickets were scarcer than diamonds in the disposal. But my husband, working his magic, scored a couple. We showed up. Not long before the race. Mistake number ONE. Engines crank up. My hearing exits track right. Nothing to protect our ears. Mistake number TWO. Then it happens. Magic strikes. The bleachers shake as the cars circle the track behind the pace car. Vibrations work from my soles to the top of my head. Good heavens, I'm getting excited. Crash number one and I’m hooked. On my feet screaming with everyone around me. So much for my doctorate degree. I can’t wait to hit the fan trailers and snap up all the gear I can. Mistake number THREE. Wait until you pick a favorite driver, THEN shop.
We buy good ear protectors, a scanner, spread our fan purchases out over several tracks, learn to get there early and set up our tailgating goodies. We are NASCAR junkies. Order premium TV to get the SPEED channel. Go to the Daytona 500. Ask for tickets to Martinsville for Mother’s Day. Season tickets to Richmond. Oh yeah. Big bucks.
And I never did write those NASCAR romances. Too much NASCAR, not enough romance, LOL, for Harlequin. Still, I’ve used some race lore in a couple of books, most recently in a futuristic where the Racer Clan figures prominently. It’s called LEGAL KILL. And there’s not a romance in sight. Well, maybe a hint. What does that say about my take on NASCAR? Hmmm. Gotta think about that one.
Maybe we’ll go see Indiana Jones tonight, after the long-delayed Nationwide race in Dover. No one cares about a Phi Beta Kappa key or a doctorate at either one. Thank goodness.