Monday, June 2, 2008

"Kasey Kahne--Kasey Kahne!!"

As a child born in the south I grew up watching, and listening to NASCAR, on Sundays--it was just the way we lived. (Part of the excitement of the sport was hearing the highly energetic commentators describing the race for those listening over the radio, those not actually watching the race live--hollering about who was neck-in-neck in turn two and who just bump-drafted the racer in front, etc). My best friend in middle/high school was the daughter of a race car driver and my own mom even carried around a black and white photo of Richard Petty (AKA "The King") signing her arm at the Asheville Speedway--and she may very well still have it in her wallet today. I grew older I sort of became annoyed with NASCAR --feeling the sport was rather gluttonous, wasting gas and tires and money, and only contributing to the pollution and consumerism that has bathed our country. I certainly NEVER expected to be watching racing in my very own home as an adult on Sunday afternoon, but as the saying goes I guess, history often repeats itself.

It all started very innocently. When I met Ben I knew he was a sports fanatic, yet he laughed about people being NASCAR fans and teased one of his brothers for supporting the billion dollar industry. So obviously I didn't worry about the noisiness creeping in to my home because we were too progressive for that. Then after about 5 or 6 years in to our relationship Ben would casually watch a race with friends on big deal--guys like to fit in too. I can remember the day Dale Earnhardt Sr. passed away in Daytona-- everyone sat glued to the TV as we watched a legend leave this world and fans worldwide began to mourn, putting "We Remember #3" stickers and decals on their cars...and that's about as sentimental as one can be about racing. Then low and behold, I should have known, along with Fantasy Football came a Fantasy Racing League-- Seriously! And this, my friends, culminated in to vicious points tallying and feverish phone calls between the guys every Sunday--when big (or little) wrecks would occur, when someone would blow an engine, or one driver shot another driver a bird. It was all a big deal--at that moment. So why, WHY(?!) did I find it surprising that last year when Cajes was only two years old he started showing an interest in NASCAR, like ANYTHING else his daddy might love?

At first Cajes liked whoever his daddy liked and it was still seemingly sweet--to watch the camaraderie between the two of them hooting and hollering over who was passing who or who wrecked. But just as seasons change so too do the phases of toddlerhood to childhood. As the NASCAR season came to a close in November Cajes had turned three and had developed his own articulate vocabulary, and he was very opinionated about who he liked and disliked in many sports (wonder where he got that?). Nevertheless, as the 2008 racing season opened in February Cajes was a total Kasey Kahne fan! It really started out with the way the sound of his name rolled off of his tongue. Cajes simply liked saying his name. "Kasey Kahne-- Kasey Kanne" he would chant!! And now it has developed in to a full-blown obsession with Kasey Kahne. My son(!!)--MY son loves racing! It makes me feel like a hypocrite in some ways. As a server years ago, at a Sagebrush Steakhouse I remember having mama's ask me to "fill their baby bottles with sweet tea" and I thought those would be the children watching racing on Sunday. But no. It's my son who throws himself on the floor in tears when Kasey Kahne gets bumped in the race and my son who screams loudly, waving his hands wildly in the air as if he were his only fan.

All this being said --I still have mixed emotions about the sport-( it took me years to even consider it a real sport). But it is inevitable that racing is here to stay. Racing has been around since prohibition days and I don't see it going anywhere but everywhere. I've recently learned that NASCAR has grown to become the second-most popular professional sport in terms of television ratings inside the U.S., ranking only behind the NFL. So I guess I better get used to it. To be quite honest, the older I get the more I enjoy the reminiscence of my childhood years and NASCAR is bundled in to those memories that make me cherish the simplicity of my youth. There's something nostalgic about it. So, if Cajes loves NASCAR then so be it. I just hope he doesn't fall in to the consumer-driven trap that snares many a NASCAR fan-- especially since Kasey Kahne does drive the Budweiser car.


The happiness of NASCAR...(above)
And then the sadness it can bring--all too quickly...(below)


Jessie Francis said...

i really enjoyed this post, sonia. cajes has such a big personality! is it hard to put video on the blog? i haven't even tried yet.

Anonymous said...


You have got to submit this to Kasey Kahne's website. It is the most adorable and hilarious thing I have seen in a long time.

This blog is great. I miss you all. We are going to have to schedule a play date sometime.

~Love ya,