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August 3, 2013

The need for speed

Local fans talk about what draws them to NASCAR


The intricate sport gives attention to detail. Tires are changed regularly. Up to 12 sets of tires can be used by a team per race. A 98 octane racing gas charges the automobiles. And when the cars hit the track, all that power comes out in the form of decibels. 

“The noise factor is horrendous in certain stadium seats,” Gucwa acknowledged. 

While the excitement on the track is what draws many fans, there is a whole culture that surrounds the race as well where fans can immerse themselves in the NASCAR experience. For Les Streeter of Maryland, a day at the races is “festive, good family fun — but expensive,” he said. 

Just as drivers have their strategies to succeed on the track, Gucwa uses his own strategy to enjoy fully the experience of a trip to the raceway.

“I arrive in the morning and set up a grill,” Gucwa said. “Cooking my own food is more affordable. I also have time to go shopping before the races start in the afternoon.” 

As many race fans do, Gucwa travels to the race by bus, with a group of other fans. 

“I go with a group from the Long Island Fire Department,” he said. “The group fills two commercial buses. The fire department brings the grill and does the cooking while we all go shopping.” 

Drivers and teams have their own traveling stores where fans can come purchase the latest consumer goods, stamped with the drivers name or number. Sweatshirts, hats, collectibles, sunglasses, chairs, jewelry, watches, and more are available to buy and take home. 

“They consistently come out with new designs and colors,” Gucwa said. And it doesn’t come cheap. 

As fans are milling around, drivers will sometimes mix in and sign autographs

While most races are held on Sunday, there are many, including Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, that fill the tracks Saturday nights. “I plan on going this September,” Gucwa said. “It will be the first time I attend a night race.” 

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