Southern Utah News Articles
Off to the races
Unless you''re talking high school football or basketball, Kanab area folks don''t seem all that interested in sports, that is until they hear the word NASCAR!
NASCAR, or National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is a passionate sport. Just ask any fan their favorite driver and then stand back! You''re about to hear who they love and who they hate!
Doris Sholte is probably the most animated fan from the area. She and husband Ed can always be found at a track or watching the weekend race on TV.
When first spotted at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) for the March 1, Shelby 427 Sprint Cup race, they were both wearing a Mark Martin hat, T-shirt, buttons, and I suspect, Martin might have been embroidered on their undies as well. Over their camper waves a #5 Mark Martin flag. During the race, Doris stays plugged into a scanner to monitor Martin''s conversations with his crew. These radio scanners are available at LVMS to rent and can be dialed in to any of the race teams.
NASCAR memorabilia covers the walls of Nedra''s Too Restaurant in Kanab. Owners Terry and Pauline Burchinal are long time NASCAR fans, and have traveled the country in their RV to see the races. They have been to most NASCAR tracks including LVMS, and are looking forward to the upcoming race in Phoenix. Terry is a longtime fan of Tony Stewart, and Pauline loves Jeff Gordon. You can see Dale Earnhardt, Jr.''s National Guard #88 car in their parking lot on March 28.
The Burchinal''s trip to Vegas this year included Ted and Chris Barnard, while long time friends and fans Crystal and Stephen Mognett of Fredonia were camped next door. Other locals Rusty and Jodi VanDyne, Sasha and Chris Mickelson, and Katie Minor were spotted in the crowd.
The Barber family attended the Nationwide Series race on Saturday. Dad Harry, prefers the truck races, but couldn''t resist the opportunity to spend a day with the kids at the track. He and son Cody like Carl Edwards. Carley is a fan of Kasey Kahne. Brooke is a Dale Jr. fan. Brinli and little brother Kaden like Kyle Busch because he drives the M&M''s car. Oldest sister Kelsey cheers for whoever is in the lead and friend Chelsea Vreeken...well she was just along for the ride.
So what is it about NASCAR that draws so many fans? John Bisci, Media Relations Manager for LVMS, explains, "It''s very hard for most people to hit a 90 mph baseball, or to shoot a hockey puck into a net while standing on skates without falling. But everyone can drive a car. That''s the appeal of NASCAR, everyone can relate."
Another major appeal is family. The NASCAR family is not just a fan reference, but NASCAR has many famous racing families as well.
Take for instance, the Richard Petty family. It began with his father, Lee Petty, and continued with son, Kyle, and grandson, Adam. Adam Petty died at 19, in an accident during a practice run.
The racing world and fans mourned his death. His brother, Austin, continues to work with a youth camp set up by the Petty family in Adam''s memory.
Richard Petty, well-known as "The King" is very active in charity work, especially with burn victims. Petty continues to be admired by fans for his fierceness on the track, and his kindness and appreciation towards his fans off.
A former employee of Petty''s once asked him why he signs his autograph so large and flowing. Petty told him the slower and larger he signs his name, the longer he gets to be with the fan, making it a more personal experience.
Famous families abound in the NASCAR world, names such as Waltrip, Bodine, Allison, the Labonte brothers, Wallace, Jarrett, and of course, Earnhardt.
We relate to these families, and their life experiences. When Dale Jarrett won the Daytona 500, father Ned, a retired racecar driver and the race broadcaster, choked up as he announced his son''s name taking the checkered flag.
Currently on top of the famous racing families, are the Busch brothers, Curt and younger brother, Kyle. They grew up racing on LVMS tracks. They were racing in their teens, and literally watched the main track as it was being built.
The Shelby 427 was a special race for the Busch family. The brothers qualified for the front row, a feat not accomplished since 2000.
Kyle qualified for the pole, but had to start in the back row due to an engine change. This moved his brother into the starting position. The two are fierce competitors on the track. During a post qualification interview, the boys were asked if they could have started the race side by side, who would be ahead at the first turn. Before Curt could speak, Kyle chuckled and said he would get the lead first. Curt came right back and said Kyle might lead first, but his gear box would break first, too.
Although Kyle started dead last, he managed to race to the front and take the checkered flag. Racing fans were moved when Kyle got out of his car and kissed the start/finish line of the track that he had only dreamed of racing on as a teen.
The fans and the race teams continue to grow and mature together. Fans of Dale Earnhardt Sr. now have children rooting for Dale Earnhardt Jr. The "Young Guns", featuring the hottest and sexiest of the NASCAR drivers were introduced with a new appeal for racing fans. Currently, the youngest Sprint Cup driver, Joey Logano, is a mere 18 years old, while the oldest, Bill Elliot, is 53. Morgan Shepherd tops the list continuing to race the Nationwide Series at the age of 68. With 43 different cars, and drivers ranging from teens to seniors, it is no wonder NASCAR appeals to young and old alike, everyone in the family has someone their own age to cheer on.