By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and NASCAR Nationwide Series are in the lonestar state. Texas of course as many know is my home state, and I have had many great times at Texas Motor Speedway through the years. However everytime I come to Texas Motor Speedway I can’t help thinking back to my first experience at a race track.
I had been a fan of NASCAR since I was three, but had never had an opportunity to experience a NASCAR sanctioned race, as there weren’t any race tracks nearby my house in Texas… but then Speedway Motorsports Incorporated built Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas and opened it to the public in February of 1996.
Immediately it was placed on the NASCAR Sprint (Winston) Cup schedule for the 1997 season, as it was a state of the art facility. I finally had a chance to go to a racetrack. I was eight years old at this point, and I was uber excited about going to check out a 1.5 mile piece of land. I know when you put it like that it isn’t exciting, but in essence that’s what I was doing, and I couldn’t have been any happier.
We decided to watch qualifying on the Friday of the race, despite the fact that rain was a looming threat all week, because we just couldn’t wait any longer to see cars on the track.
We parked, we went inside the track, and we took our seats to watch 43 cars run single-file laps to determine the starting field for the 1997 Interstate Batteries 500… boring you say? Well I couldn’t have been any happier.
As the session rolled on we saw the cars blaze by us on the brand new lightning fast oval. Then the rain began to fall, and fall and fall. The rest of the session was scrapped, and we headed to the car. However this wouldn’t be the end of the story. At the time of the track’s opening in 1997, the majority of the parking areas at Texas Motor Speedway were dirt lots… dirt lots become mud lots really fast in rain.
We plunged through the rain and mud to get to our car. Mud kept stacking up on our shoes, but we fought on. We walked for what seemed like miles, as our feet kept getting heavier, and heavier. Then we finally made it to our car.
At this point we were absolutely covered in mud, and we nearly got stuck on our way out of the track, but that moment of my life is forever etched in my brain… not as frustration, but as one of the most magical moments I’ve ever experienced.
I know, I know, I was covered head to toe in mud, and only got to see a partial qualifying session, but I couldn’t have been any happier.