When you think of community, what comes to mind? Support? Family? Maybe tradition? Every year, when millions of people gather to watch car racing, that’s the environment they’re entering. The spirit that drives this culture is just like any other spectacle; filled with the connections of community, culture, and enjoying the pure pleasure of it all.

This article will explore what it is about car racing culture that draws people in, both drivers and these millions of spectators that gather. What compels us to race? Why do we put ourselves in vehicles traveling at hundreds of miles an hour? Or spend weekends watching cars loop around a track? The answers may remind you of your own favorite activities.

Image: Race car at night with blurry and colorful light

Source: Pixels

So, how does one even get into racing cars?

What’s the appeal?

I had the chance to chat with NASCAR driver, Ryan Preece, who recently placed 8th in the Daytona 500, about his beginnings in racing cars. Aside from satisfying his competitive side, he explained that it was a family thing. His grandfather raced, his father raced, and it led to him and his brothers sitting in the seat as well. (You’ll hear more details from my chat with him later in the article.) It’s something to do on the weekends, together, as a family and as a community.

“Common folks that choose to do uncommon deeds on the weekends” — Ken Squier, NASCAR legend, and Thunder Road Co-Founder

The video I’d like to point to really helps us see what this community is like with a visit to a track in Barre, Vermont. Filmmaker, Kayhl Cooper, brings us to “Thunder Road” to take a peek at what it is about this sport that draws people of all ages in to participate in and watch stock car racing.

See what you think after watching this…

“It’s chaotic but that’s why we like it.” — Matthew Smith, Street Stock Driver

Seems pretty nice, doesn’t it? After watching this it’s easy to see the pull. It’s a community, it’s a celebration of culture, it’s a way to spend time with your family outside of the norm, and of course, this high energy sport seems like quite the adrenaline rush. And we have a tendency towards sticking to activities that give us that feeling, don’t we?

You can discover more great work from Kayhl over on his website, www.kayhlcooper.com, and Vimeo! And stay up to date with what he’s up to by following him over on Instagram!

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Finding Your Thing

Putting yourself in such a dangerous situation — where one wrong small move with the wheel could send you flying into a crash — has a knack for bringing people into the present. Their mind isn’t on the disagreement they had earlier, their stresses around money, or anything else. What’s happening in and around their car is all that they’re thinking about.

In my conversation with Ryan Preece, after he placed in the top 10 in the biggest race in NASCAR, he stated the following which really made it all click into place for me:

“Everybody has their thing, you know, that makes them kind of forget about everything else going on in life. As soon as you strap into that car, everything else disappears — any sort of stress, any sort of thing that’s on your mind — and it’s just you and the car. I would say that’s the real reason why I enjoy it. This is my thing.” — Ryan Preece, #47, American professional stock car racing driver.

Does that feeling sound familiar to anything that you do?

This is something we can all connect on.

It’s hard, sometimes, to fully understand why someone would do what they do, especially if it’s something that you would never dream of doing. Whether that’s driving around a track at hundreds of miles an hour, careening down a hill with just a pair of fabric wings, creating mosaics, splashing through mud, or taking pictures of bugs.

We’re all humans. We’re all striving for the same things — acceptance, excitement, community, fulfillment, recognition — but this doesn’t mean that we all go about it in the same way. The more that we can hold back on our initial judgments of “that’s ridiculous” or a “waste of time” and extend ourselves just a bit to ask what connects what they do to what we love, the easier it is to understand the “why?”.

Finding that activity that takes you out of your day to day stresses and connects you to a sense of community, is a gift. And if you stumble into it, run with it — whatever it may be.

Make sure you share it with others in your life! Who knows who you may inspire to pick up that activity that they love again. And who knows whose mind you could open just a little bit more.

P.S. I’m curious as to why, as children, racing is such a big thing. We raced each other all the time. Is it because our parents maybe started playing this game with us when we were learning our first ways into the world? If anyone has insight on this, please share! My email is: [email protected]

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein

When have you found yourself sucked into an activity? 

Share your experience! What was it? What was it like? Did you continue doing that same activity throughout life? Has the feeling stayed with it? Use #itsstillanamazing in your posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and tag us to share!

Notes:

  1. “Thunder Road – Racing in Vermont.” Vimeo, Kayhl Cooper, 30 Jan. 2017, vimeo.com/201677664. Accessed 24 Apr. 2019.

Sam Burns

Editor in Chief

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.

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