Father and son day at the racetrack
There were not enough bottles of water to keep me satisfied. It simply didn't matter to the boy.
Bullets of sweat rolled down his baby face. His hair disheveled and cheeks nearing red, my 4-year-old son couldn't care less that it was the hottest day of the year, he was there for the racing.
Marysville Raceway Park — a first time for the boy and I — is a peculiar place, at least to him.
It wasn't Talladega like he marvels at on TV. The dirt track, the bombers, the winged sprints, mini stocks and announcer Bob Burbach were all foreign to the little die-hard NASCAR fan.
Even though I explained over and over and over again to him the type of racing that was at the park, kids never mask expectations.
"Daddy where's Jimmie Johnson?" he asks with trepidation, unsure of what these winged-contraptions are wizzing by his head.
Thinking quickly, I mustered up one of dad's special explanations and let him down gently.
"Buddy, these are the guys who are trying to get into NASCAR."
And then in my head I said, "Son, I'm sitting in this heat for you, so you're going to sit here and like our local race track!"
Luckily, dump trucks could be racing and my son would watch with excitement.
And after the first winged sprint heat race, Jimmie Johnson was the furthest thing from his mind.
As he watched Korey Lovell and the boys, I watched him.
Are the ear plugs in all the way? Here buddy, have another sip of water and here's some for the head. Are you hungry? How bout a corn dog or Sutton's Smokin' BBQ? He's not listening to a word.
Then the first crash occurs around turn four.
"Oh! Dad it's a crash!" He smiles. The boy's penchant for twisted metal scares me.
He waits on Sunday's for "The Big One" and watches like a hawk to see who was the instigator.
"The yellow flag is out daddy," he smiles.
Then I smile and observe.
Marysville Raceway Park is a Saturday break for a blue-collar friend or family member with audible, explicit passion. A fan's bark for the 47 car to my left illustrates that — earmuffs son.
It's the perfect setting for cheering on a buddy with a cold beverage of choice, because whether you are racing fan or not, you can't avoid the adrenaline, or the dirt that occasionally comes flying through the air.
It's racing, what's not to like?
And when Misty Castleberry rolls out the red, white and blue machine she's been hammering opponents with, my son immediately points, "I like that car, that's who I'm rooting for."
"Yeah, you and everyone else here," I laugh.
Castleberry won her seventh straight race that day, but the boy couldn't last that long. He was struggling to keep his eyes open just after the break, when the track waits for the sun to go down. He would have stayed there all night. Heck, he could have watched the flag man all night.
But during the break, Castleberry came by on a pick-up chucking signed Frisbees to fans, I rushed over to swipe one before all the rugrats swooped them up.
"Here son, check it out."
Castleberry added one more fan and I became the "coolest dude" — until Jimmie Johnson won on Sunday.
Needless to say, I think the track gained two more fans as well.