The following is a commentary from Cyn Marie Sprinkle of Canby, Ore.:
I have satellite TV, so I watch all of the races – but watching them alone is torture. You see, watching NASCAR is considered a form of mental illness where I live. We true NASCAR fans are outcasts who must hide our passion for brightly colored stock cars driving at ridiculous speeds, defying death at every turn.
Staying true to my defiant roots, I occasionally wear my black Kyle Busch M&M's jacket out in public. People stare at me and speak in hushed tones about my obvious mental affliction. A couple of weeks ago I wore my jacket to one of the local burger joints. I overheard the young people behind the counter talking about how they would never have the nerve to wear a NASCAR jacket in public. No tips for them that night!
During the NASCAR season, I make the trip to my local Safeway store every Saturday morning and put no more than 15 items in my cart and go through the Express Line where one of my NASCAR buddies waits eagerly to scan my 15 items (or less) while we quietly discuss the upcoming Nationwide and Sprint Cup races.
The K&N Pro Series comes to Portland once a year, but the attendance is not spectacular. Still, it gives stock car fans a chance to hang out with their fellow crazies. It also gives the long suffering spouses a place to commiserate about the unbearably long NASCAR season and how being associated with a fan is the most embarrassing thing they can imagine.
It wasn't always like this. Back in 2005, we could proudly wear jackets and T-shirts and adorn our vehicle with decals and license plate holders proudly declaring our allegiance to our favorite driver. For some reason, that all died.
Maybe the Portland chapter of Junior Nation finally gave up and that was the beginning of the end. Perhaps the kinder, gentler Tony Stewart alienated his true fans.
I know the reason can't be Kyle Busch, because I met a true KB fan at the K&N race in 2008. He was 80 years old and he wanted to give me a hug when he saw my KB hat. His wife refused to acknowledge me since she said NASCAR died when Rusty Wallace retired.
A local bar tried to promote NASCAR on Sundays, offering special deals on food and beverage packages so that true fans could hang out together to watch the races on TV. They quickly went out of business and I believe that establishment is now a parking lot.
Most of us are confined to the inferior television sets in the back bedroom and we are told to "keep it down back there." No watching NASCAR on the big HDTV in the living room. What would the neighbors think?
I had an assistant back in 2008 whose husband was a card-carrying member of Junior Nation. She was not a race fan, but the Monday after Kyle took out Dale Jr. in Richmond, she came in with an axe to grind.
I won't repeat what she said to me, but under any other circumstances it would have been a firing offense. She didn't speak to me for the rest of the week, and I don't believe she ever fully forgave me for what my driver did to Dale Jr.
But it was wonderful! It didn't matter who her husband's favorite driver was – as long as she didn't make that face when I mentioned NASCAR.
I will continue to follow the NASCAR news on Twitter and when the season starts again, I will drop by the SB Nation race chat to hang out with all of the other crazies who love the greatest form of racing on earth.
Cyn Marie Sprinkle / Canby, Ore.
On Twitter: @PDXLeelaB