NASCAR dads. To hear the talk, they put George W. Bush into the White House, gave Republicans control of Congress and have become among the most courted voting groups in the country.
I've never been courted. I've never even been slightly flirted with. True, I'm not always easy to peg. Like, I'm a big believer in the Ten Commandments (well, eight of them anyway); but at the same time, the sight of two men kissing does not give me the willies. If I had to say, though, I lean toward the left.
Some of my real liberal friends talk about NASCAR as the personification of evil. I take a more inquisitive approach to politics. That's why last weekend I headed to Fontana, which I recently discovered is in California, to attend NASCAR's Sony HD 500.
Upon arriving, I found 15,000 acres of tailgate parties. I was impressed how these people can take a patch of asphalt and transform it into a space much nicer than my home. Maybe they do deserve to decide all the elections after all.
I saw a family man working a barbecue, a NASCAR dad if I ever saw one. I think. He smiled. Obviously he didn't sniff me out as a blue-state guy intruding on his red-state world. I asked him if he would describe himself as a NASCAR dad. He informed me he didn't speak English. Weird, I thought, it didn't seem very red state-esque.
I went up to another man, and asked him if he was a NASCAR dad. He replied, "What's that?" I moved on, found another guy who didn't speak English. Something was funky in Fontana. I gave up on the parking lot and entered the California Speedway. Right away I noticed two young women dressed in practically nothing. Not exactly the target audience that would aid my research. So I scanned the crowd for potential NASCAR dads. I had dozens to choose from. Naturally, I decided to talk to the young women.
"Do you vote?" I asked. They looked confused, probably because I didn't ask them to show me their breasts. I explained what I was doing and asked what I needed to know about being a NASCAR kind of guy. One of the women told me that first off I needed a beer. I confessed I don't drink. Their faces said it all: I didn't belong.
I asked them their names. The second woman said, "Don't use your real name." So they became Lacey and Melissa. Later, Melissa delivered a puzzled man to me, saying, "Here's a real NASCAR dad."
I asked him, "So you vote Republican?" "Yep," he replied. "Always?" "Pretty much." "So you like Bush?" "Before or after the hurricane?"
I asked if I could quote him. Melissa warned, "Don't give him your real name." I realized I had to lose Melissa and Lacey.
Another NASCAR dad, wearing an "I Fear No Beer" T-shirt, told me he enjoys the new respect for NASCAR fans. He said they used to be regarded as Confederate flag-waving yahoos who only went for the crashes. In fact, I think that used to be NASCAR's motto. Anyway, I found out he was a big Bush supporter but that he too was sorely disappointed with the president's hurricane response. Two men don't make a Gallup poll, but I found this interesting.
Yes, the entire day was an education. For one, the crowd was more diverse than I imagined. Drunk, yes, but diverse. I also learned a lot of NASCAR folk love to hate Jeff Gordon. And just as many love to love Jeff Gordon. They certainly seem to spend a lot more time debating him than they do Social Security or Supreme Court nominees.
Finally, I learned I should have put on sunscreen. By the end of the day I was definitely in a red state. And as my real liberal friends warned, it was quite painful.