PAUCH: Six Tips For New Race Fans

Mandee Pauch

FRENCHTOWN, N.J. — I recently had someone reach out to me, asking how she could become a fan of racing.

She said her husband absolutely loves racing, but that she’s having a difficult time getting into it. She asked if there was a way to get her to like the sport.

It’s really something most people never think about, but it’s happened to all of us racing lovers at some point in time. Each and every one of us had to make a start in this industry somewhere. Maybe you were forced to go as a child or, perhaps, you went with a friend and fell in love. Whatever it is that lights the initial fire, getting into a new sport can be difficult.

To help that lovely woman and her marriage, I have listed a few tips for newbie fans who are looking to become die-hard supporters.
• Understand the basic rules and ask questions.

No one will judge you for not knowing the rules but if you can’t follow along at even a basic level, you’re really not trying. There’s no excuse for not knowing which turn is turn two and what the white flag means.

Asking the right questions is important to appreciating any race, but don’t ask questions during the action. Instead, ask during a yellow flag or between races. Most fans will happily show off their knowledge of the sport.

• Listen and pay attention.

Once you understand the basics of racing, it’s time to know who the top dogs are while learning to recognize who is who. Did you know that Daryn Pittman won last week? What does that mean? Is that good or bad? Does that put into play where he’ll be starting this week?

Listen to the announcer. The announcers will help you better understand what is going on and who to keep your eyes on. Announcers frequently highlight a driver’s career, accidents on the track and tell you what to watch for. Some of these highlights may be obvious to longtime fans, but may be useful to someone new to the game.

• Look at the bigger picture.

Is this a regular weekly show? Is this a special show? Is the format different? Are there special drivers at the track who don’t regularly race there? It’s helpful to know the context of the race you’re watching. Will this person go home with more money than usual? It’ll help build up the excitement the more you understand.

• Find some drivers you like.

It’s easy to be a fan, but you’ll be missing out if you don’t have any favorite drivers to keep an eye on. A good start would be what the announcers say, the driver’s race car, or maybe you’ve met him before and really liked him. Keep an eye on the drivers and cheer for them.

A lot of fans have been born into the sport, supporting certain drivers. Others have not. This is your time to decide who you’d like to cheer for to win. It’s almost like playing a game. Will your driver win?

• What’s happening?

Do you know why a lot of people go on forums and racing websites? It’s because all of the drama and gossip is there. People feed off of drama. Have a look at some of the big stories. Find out who is doing what, who is racing where and who switched teams. That will certainly help you appreciate what’s happening on the track.

• Examine some of the history.

Most drivers don’t have continuous success each year. It should be obvious who wins a lot, but it’s good to know who’s been racing the longest, who has the most wins and who’s looking to get their first win.

Knowing a driver or track’s history allows one to better appreciate what they are witnessing. By going back in time, one can unearth some amazing victories that will only produce greater admiration for certain driers and teams.

Again, to most race fans these may seem like second nature, but those looking to get involved in the sport need a good starting point. They need direction.

These six tips will help them better understand and appreciate our sport and, hopefully, grow to love it for years to come.