May 2004 – People, let me tell you. In all my 41 years of living (and I’ve seen a lot), I’ve never seen anything quite like what I witnessed at the Bristol Motor Speedway in terms of an event. Sporting or otherwise. It was a National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) race. The particular race we went for was the Food City 500. The track bills itself as the “World’s Fastest Half Mile.”
My 14-year-old son, Wesley, and I received an invitation from some friends to attend this race back in March. Said we had free tickets and a couple of seats in a sky box if we wanted them. We wanted them. This was in conjunction with a conference put on by Bsafe Online called “The Race Against Internet Pornography.”
So we flew up to Bristol in the Blue Ridge mountains of east Tennessee for the weekend. Actually, Bristol is right on the Virginia/Tennessee state line. There, out in a field among the rolling hills which belly up to small mountains, sits the largest enclosed stadium in North America. At least that I know of. The Bristol Motor Speedway seats officially a staggering 160,000 people. Now, friends, let us put this in perspective. The largest football stadium in America is in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the University of Michigan plays. It seats 107,501. You could put the entire population of my hometown in the BMS four times over before you would be able to fill it up. That, readers, is a lot of seats to fill. Especially, as they say, out in the middle of nowhere. And yet this race is known as the “hardest ticket in NASCAR.” Speaks to the enormous popularity of stock car racing among Americans today.
While in Bristol, we spent several hours with other leaders of pro-family and Christian organizations, trying to look at how we could best confront the growing problem of easily accessible on-line pornography that is affecting millions of people – both adults and youth – in America today. Pornography is addictive and as Christians, we know it poisons the soul. The Bible warns in many places about the lust of the flesh and the consequences of giving yourself over to licentiousness. And that warning applies to individuals as well as societies. The best thing going right now to protect you and your family from Internet porn is a filter developed by Bsafe Online. It is the filter I use in my home and we use at AFA. If you don’t have a quality filter, then you should not be on the Internet. The vileness of the material that you can innocently stumble across is unbelievable.
Now, back to NASCAR. Wow! (Don’t tell the ACLU, but they opened the race over the public address system with a prayer that ended, “In Jesus’ name we pray.”) As much as Wesley and I enjoyed the comfort and food in the sky box, we knew we had to get out in the stadium and closer to the fans and the track to really experience what we came to experience. So we slipped out and made our way down the stairs. The roar of the 40 stock cars was almost breathtaking even before we entered the portal out into the crowd. But the loudness was part of what we wanted to hear. Most of the fans were watching the race intently with their headsets on. I learned that you can use the headsets to tune into you favorite driver’s radio frequency and listen to the team talking to the driver during the actual race.
As we walked down the stairs we got closer and closer to the track until we finally reached the floor. There we were, unable to hear each other at all, just 50 feet from the cars roaring by. It was an incredible rush. The smell of rubber burning from the tires was intense. These automobiles were going 150 miles per hour before they slowed down slightly as they went into the 36-degree banks on the oval track. We stood there for a few moments and just looked around. Awesome. Being there and doing this, I can now see how people get hooked on this sport.
Sunday night we flew home. First thing I did was check the chassis on my van. Don’t know what a chassis is? Ha! You need to watch more NASCAR and quit embarrassing yourself.