That’s One “NAS” Car

Harry GantIs your Monday morning already going a mile a minute? How about two hundred miles a minute? Grab your coffee and hold on for a quick spin ’round the Mary Monday track:

In the spirit of our collective need for speed, today we’re celebrating the anniversary of the first ever Daytona 500 race, held on this date in 1959. The track, famously located in Daytona, Florida, is a two and a half mile oval, requiring 200 laps for a 500-mile race.

While NASCAR sometimes gets a bad rap as a sport for rednecks (see the greeting card on the right as a case in point!), it’s ranked second only to the National Football League among professional sports franchises, when it comes to television ratings. NASCAR has the longest running season of any professional sport, with races starting up in February and ending in November.

You might recognize the name of the first ever Daytona 500 winner – a gentleman by the name of Lee Petty. His son, Richard Petty, went on to be the most famous NASCAR driver of all time, rightfully earning the name of the King.

Are some of you dozing off at your desks? Not NASCAR fans? I can sympathize – when I was little, I didn’t get it either. I just knew it was that thing that my daddy watched, where the cars went around and around in a circle for what felt like days.

Harry Gant

My NASCAR hero- Harry Grant

One day, when boredom set in, I decided to hit up the local convenience store for a Slushy. Now, in the South, NASCAR is a big deal, so I couldn’t really escape it. Even at the convenience store, right there on my Slushy cup, was a sticker for a contest – pull off the label and see which driver’s listed underneath. If your driver wins that Sunday’s race, you win a prize.

I popped off my sticker and saw the name of Harry Gant, #33, driver of the famous “Skoal Bandit” car. And the prize? A coveted NASCAR-themed light. Pull the string, the light turns on, pull it again, and the light goes off.

That Sunday, I was glued to the race like never before. I was on the edge of my seat, cheering alongside dad for my knight in shining, Skoal-painted armor, Harry Gant, #33. And lo and behold, Harry won the race, winning me my light, and making a lifelong NASCAR fan out of a bored little girl.

Awake now? Glad to hear it – there’s a whole week ahead of you, so ladies and gentlemen…start your engines!

Happy Monday,