When the checkered flag came out, everyone was going nuts. We started high-fiving and cheering with people we had never met before. It didn’t matter where you drove in from, how long you had been a fan or what your socioeconomic status was: we were celebrating the victory with family.
After the race was over, Dad and I walked down the grandstands toward the flag stand to be able to get closer to Victory Lane to see the celebration happening. This was the first time either of us could say that we saw our guy win a race that we were at.
We just sat there watching Victory Lane laughing and asking each other if we could believe what just happened. It was a day we will never forget.
It was also a day that another family will never forget. After the race, we watched as a family spread the ashes of a lost loved one in the grass at the flag stand. Talk about another emotional moment that took place at this race, with more people we had never met but who felt like family.
We were 50 to 60 yards away, but we felt like we were a part of their family and their healing process that day.
That afternoon driving back home, dad and I listed off the special racetracks to us that we would want to have some of our ashes spread out at — places that we have shared so many great moments at or even raced ourselves.
If you’re not a diehard, you just wouldn’t understand.
That’s what makes this coming weekend so special for so many, between those that will watch from Homestead and those that will watch from afar. This weekend, it doesn’t matter who you’re favorite is or how far you came from or what background you come from, Sunday at Miami-Homestead Speedway, the people you sit near, stand next to in the hot dog line or pass during the pre-race pit walk will all be family.
We will all come together Sunday to witness something special. It’s something you will only have a chance to do and experience once.
There will be more NASCAR races that take place in the future, but there will be only one final race for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Stay tuned for more this week on the roller coaster of emotions that is Ford Championship Weekend 2017.
The opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Race Chaser Online, the Performance Motorsports Network, Scorpion Radio Group, their sponsors or other contributors.
About the Writer
Steven Ovens is the Northeast Dirt Correspondent for Race Chaser Online and the creator and host of the Turn 5 Live dirt track racing radio show, part of the Performance Motorsports Network.
Ovens has spent his lifetime in the sport of dirt track racing, growing up in the garages of the Kerrick and Ovens families. He spent 11 years behind the wheel between go-karts and 4 Cylinder Mini Stocks which brings a unique perspective to his dirt track editorials.
The 31-year-old has a career in the growing health care business world, and is also entering his second season as the full-time announcer and media director for Woodhull Raceway in Woodhull, N.Y.
In addition, Ovens was formerly the announcer and media director for Outlaw Speedway (formerly Black Rock Speedway) in Dundee, N.Y., serving in that capacity in both 2015 and 2016.
Email Steve at: [email protected]
Follow on Twitter: @StevenOvens
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