NASCAR – A Passion that Transcends Cultural Barriers
Back in 2009 (hey, not too long ago!), one year away from finishing graduate school, I had to already start thinking about my thesis. Living in China at the time I had many topics to choose from and readily available resources for field research. I knew I wanted to do something related to women’s issues but could not pin-point my research question. Although my final thesis was not on this subject, I remember one of my final choices: Women in NASCAR. Here I was, silly me, in the heart of one of the most interesting cultures in the world, but wanting to talk about stock car racing and the U.S. Southern culture. I discarded the Women in NASCAR topic due to the simple fact that I had NO clue where to begin, I decided that I did not have enough contacts in the industry to even get an interview with Danica. Little did I know that 2-3 years later I was going to attend the final race of the year in Homestead, FL holding press passes and enjoying RV accommodations for the entire 3-day weekend. Basically, I’m about to live the full NASCAR experience!
There’s Something About NASCAR…
Every time I think about car racing I cannot help but recalling a childhood memory: My Dad on Sunday mornings; Formula-1 days. What we have in Montevideo is nothing much but a small track in the outskirts of the city, where you were lucky to see a few Fuscas (VW Beetles) racing around every now and then. The autódromo, the Turismo Carretera (Road
Racing) series, and some privately organized races here and there are pretty much what I grew up with in terms of car racing. Whether racing was a big or small sport in Uruguay back when I was a child is truly irrelevant because one thing remains untouched: The contagious passion that my father conveyed around the house.
Fast-forward to 2002, the year I met my Southern husband. As much as I knew the U.S. of America, as much as I have traveled to the country… actually, I HAD.NO.IDEA. No English teacher ever taught me about rednecks and Confederate flags; I was not aware of the existence of tailgate parties, let alone of the possibility that a motorcycle could carry a full-functional parrilla on its rear end. American patriotism and men and women with their right hand on their hearts singing the Star-Spangled Banner were things I had only seen in Hollywood movies. I did not understand a person’s devotion for a sportsman and loyalty to a brand at the same time until I learned about NASCAR.
American football would not make sense; baseball would not make sense; not even all those Vegas bets on the next NASCAR winner would make sense. But everything came together when my son was born and he turned 3 or 4. It was then when I understood that, even though he is not interested in being the next Forlán (as much as I am!), car racing became to us what it has always been: An ideal sport to enjoy with the family while learning and immersing myself in my adopted culture. And having one of the drivers sponsored by M&M’s is just an added value for any kid!
As a foreigner, as a Latina, once I “got” the NASCAR sub-culture, I understood that its values and ideals are common to my
own culture, it just comes in a different language and with a historical lesson. Pride for one’s culture and country, strong family values, passion for sports, and brand preference are all things that can definitely be used to define my own upbringing.
This weekend, as a family, we will do something we have never done before: Spend a full NASCAR weekend at the speedway, with RV and all. We will be leaving to Homestead in a few hours and I will make sure to document every step of this trip so you guys can enjoy and fall in love with this sport, just like I did.
Any requests? I know NASCAR fans are very passionate so, please, no requests to insult this or that driver. And, yes, just in case you have not realized it, we are #18 fans in this housePosted by Silvina Jover-Cirillo | 0 comments