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Confessions of a NASCAR addict

How and why I became a big-time racing fanatic

Posted: Thursday June 8, 2006 2:51PM; Updated: Thursday June 8, 2006 4:55PM
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Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is just one of the many reasons to enjoy NASCAR.
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

It's a confession that has brought me many blank stares and gasps of confusion. A confession that baffles even my sports-crazed colleagues, guys who obsess over trivial things like fantasy leagues, mock drafts and tennis poseurs like Anna Kournikova. Yet it is something of which I am not ashamed.

My name is Elizabeth and I am a fan of NASCAR.

Yes, NASCAR. I can hear you moaning. I can see the baffled look on your face. A sophisticated woman from the nation's capitol ruminating about her love of stock car racing? A true sign of the apocalypse if there ever was one.

Well, say what you will, but it doesn't change the fact that my fondness for NASCAR is as real as my love of all things Shakespeare or buying Jimmy Choos on Fifth Avenue. I simply can't get enough of the Nextel Cup drivers and their big, fast cars.

I'm drawn to NASCAR for the same reasons its average male fan is: the thrill of watching bumper-to-bumper racing at 200 mph, the sweet sound of the engines, the drama of the race to the checkered flag. I respect the sport's 57-year history and how its race cars have been transformed from the podgy road-going, lumbering sedans of yesteryear into the sleek, technologically advanced machines that we see today.

I first discovered NASCAR in 1998 as an intern for Sports Illustrated. At the time I knew absolutely nothing about motor sports. Couldn't name a NASCAR driver if you paid me. However, what started off as a fact-checking chore soon became a silent obsession. Watching a few races from start to finish, seeing the drivers fight for position, block each other and makes passes at high speeds was thrilling, a total rush. As time went on I got to interview drivers about their performance and strategies on the track and I was drawn in even further. It wasn't long before I found myself watching races almost every Sunday, often flipping back and forth from the sometimes-staid NFL games or other sports programming to catch races at Daytona, Talladega and Bristol. I kept watching the sport and loved every minute of it.