2014 Chilton Invitational: An Experience I Will Never Forget

I suppose I should probably wrap up my 2014 Chilton Invitational experience even though in reality I could probably write a book about it. In fact, I can guarantee you as I write this, more and more ideas will pop into my head. As I reflect back on how I even got to the point of going to the event, I am reminded of why I did. It was to be able to create a new experience in my racing life in order to share it with others so that we can all see that there is so much more out there, no matter how long we’ve been in the sport. I didn’t just look at it as another writing job to add to my list. This time it was to open my eyes to something beyond what I’ve always known.

As I made the drive on Friday morning, all I kept thinking was, “okay, now you have to keep note of every detail so that when you blog about it, you don’t miss a thing.” I now know that is the absolute worst thing I could’ve ever done. You see, when I started this blog with the intent to learn more about short track racing, that’s what I thought I had to do. Keep a notebook in my pocket just like a journalist would. To make sure that anything that hit me as a great topic was written down. It makes sense that I would think this way because when I write feature stories of races, that’s exactly what I have to do.

But this is different. This is about an experience, not an event. What I did this weekend was take it all in and let myself become a part of it instead of looking in from the outside and trying to take notes. What I found was that just like cautions breed cautions, memories breed memories, without even trying. I was able to observe and enjoy all at the same time and when I sat down to write about it, every memory flooded into my mind with more detail than I could’ve ever written down.

When I pulled into the race track on Friday afternoon, I saw a lot full of campers already enjoying themselves and making themselves at home for the weekend. They were relaxed, fires going in the middle of the afternoon, clearly ready for a good time with great friends, and some racing too. Taking a tour around the facility I saw an empty grandstand just waiting to be filled with the buzz of fans trying to find the best seat. I could hear the announcers booth filling up with the sounds of excitement once the cars hit the track. The track itself was silent, undisturbed, and just waiting with anticipation, as if it could hardly contain itself.

The cars sat quietly either in their trailers or under covers. It was almost as if they were taking that final nap before someone would wake them up with a shot of caffeine. And then there were the people, all the people. They didn’t appear much different than all of us asphalt folks. They were probably telling similar stories, trying to wake up from the night before, maybe even talking about set-ups. Everything was calm at that moment, but I knew that the storm was going to be rolling in and I couldn’t wait.

I could sit here and talk about the differences in racing styles between asphalt and dirt cars, and how they pass or don’t pass in comparison to each other, yada, yada, yada. But no matter how I would try to explain it, I don’t think I could ever do it justice. It’s just flat different, a lot different. If you really want to know how different, you should check it out for yourself. I never realized there were so many dirt tracks out there until I started to pay attention, so you definitely have your pick.

As my weekend came to a close there were a few things that stuck out in my mind more than others. First of all, can I say that by the time I left I felt completely at ease? Not completely. Did I have fun? Absolutely. Was my purpose of attending to get a lot of blogging material successful? You be the judge of that.

But the one thing that stands out more than anything else is these words, “Keep doing what you’re doing. I don’t know about anyone else out there, but I want to keep reading what you are writing. I read them and I’m like, ‘she gets it!!!’ You do, you get it! Thank you so much for that.” And thank YOU so much for that! You know exactly who you are.

This solidified that I am right where I’m supposed to be no matter where I’m at or who I’m with, and that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if only one of my stories connects with only one person, I’ve done what I set out to do.

I want to thank the promoters and everyone involved in putting together the 2014 Chilton Invitational. What an incredible job you guys do. I could go on and on about the hospitality you provide. The music was incredible and overall just an amazing event for a little dirt track out in the middle of nowhere. There are so many more topics I could cover just based on that, but I think I’ll save it for future material.

I have to give a shoutout to everyone who made my weekend so memorable. Thanks to Brad, Ross, Josh, Curt, James, Michelle, Elaine, Jackie, Bob, Jason, and the people I don’t know by name other than nicknames. Haha. I know there are so many more and hopefully you know who you are. I never expected that setting out on this blogging journey would introduce me to so many great people and experiences. You all rock! (not to be confused with getting hit in the head with a rock).

See ya’ll in 2015!