When most people think about NASCAR, the first thing that comes to mind is probably stock car drivers doing back flips off of cars, crews being sprayed with champagne at the end of a race or the phrase “Gentlemen start your engines!”, but for many fans, race weekend is about more than the just the race itself.
“The tailgating is half the fun,” said Leroy Frase, who came in from Denton, Md. on Thursday for the Sprint Cup Series. “It’s all about relaxation, fun, friends and cold Budweiser. It’s a reason to get together.”
For others the experience of camping out and tailgating is a way to make friends.
Robert Daisey, of Frankford, estimates that he has been to 99 percent of all of the NASCAR races at the Monster Mile since 1984, and for 10 or 15 years now he has camped out at the speedway. Over the years he’s developed a special group of friends.
“The two campsites next to us are people from New Jersey and people from Maryland. We’ve gotten to know them well over the last few years. We only see them twice a year and we keep in touch throughout the year through social media.”
Proximity also helped Karen Foley, a Philadelphia, Pa. resident, make friends at the speedway. She has attended two NASCAR races now.
The first year that Foley attended a race at Dover International Speedway her campsite was close to a vendor. She quickly became friends with him and fed him every meal. For this year’s race she arranged her campsite so that she could be close to her new friend.
“I’ve definitely made friends through NASCAR,” Foley said.
Jessica Loch came all the way from Connecticut to attend the Sprint Cup Series for the second year in a row.
“All of the fans are so friendly,” Loch said. “People will just come over to your campsite and hang out. Everybody is so friendly that it’s not uncomfortable.”
For Cheryl Farlow, of Littlestown, Pa., race weekend is about both friends and family.
“I’ve been a NASCAR fan for a long time. It’s like a buddy system,” Farlow said. “It’s also fun because I get to bring my family.”
Mark Holston is a Dover native who has been visiting the speedway since 1976, back when the grandstands had wooden bleachers.
“Everybody is a family,” Holston said.