ARTICLE OF THE DAY
 
Racin' Time
by Billy Weaver
2/10/06

Now that Super Bowl XL is in the books, another Super Bowl will take center stage next weekend. The Daytona 500, the Super Bowl of racing.

On Sunday I will make my annual trek to Daytona Beach, Florida for Speedweek 2006 and I must say that I'm just as excited this year as I was in 1994 when I first drove through the famed checkered tunnel and into the World Center of Racing. Talk about a thrill. I know, I know! Many of you could care less about NASCAR and I can certainly relate. Prior to 1993 I had never attended a NASCAR event and I couldn't figure out how so many people could sit in the blazing sun for four hours watching a bunch of cars make left turns.

In May of 1993 I attended my very first NASCAR (then Winston Cup) race at Charlotte. The Coca-Cola 600. The longest race on the circuit. Not out of choice but because I was a rookie sports reporter at WBTW-TV in Florence, South Carolina. A television station just two hours from Charlotte, five minutes from Darlington and smack dab in the middle of NASCAR country. From that day forward I was hooked!

There just something about hearing the roar of the engines and feeling the ground shake when the cars rocket by at speeds of nearly 200 miles per hour. You just don't get the full effect of the races on television despite the scanners, in-car cameras and surround sound.

You also have to have someone to root for, and preferably someone to root against, to really enjoy the sport. Dale Earnhardt just happened to be one of the first drivers I ever interviewed and even then he was a tough guy to track down. When I got the chance to talk to "The Intimidator" I was blown away at how confident, down to earth and even funny he was. At that moment I found a driver to root for. Not a bad choice since by that time he was already on his way to his sixth out of seven NASCAR Championships.

Needless to say covering the Daytona 500 in 2001 was tough to handle.

Following the death of Dale Earnhardt at Daytona that year it seemed just natural to start pulling for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and every year at about this time I start to get a little extra pep in my step. As Darrell Waltrip would say "It's time to go racing boys!"

I'll be sure to check in with Troy D. and Ellerbe from the "Super Bowl of Racing" next week. So keep it right here.

Billy Weaver
billy.weaver@witntv.com