Old Dominion Speedway. I hadn't been there in nine years.
I was 16 years old and my best friend, Doph (nickname-but that's a whole other blog) invited me to go to the race track to watch her dad race. I had been there once before with her family ten years ago when I was six. I came home wishing I hadn't gone because my mom took my older brother and my Nana to McDonald's and to the swimming pool. To a six year old, it had seemed that I made the wrong choice when I decided not to go with them but instead with my best pal and her family. The race track was a dirty, loud, crowded place with wood bleachers and we watched a bunch of cars go around in circles over and over again. People cheered, people booed, people screamed, people clapped. But I had no clue what was going on. All I knew was that this was a magical place for Doph and her family. She had bragged to me for weeks about how great it was to go to Old Dominion. I was so excited when she said her mom gave her permission to invite me. For sure a happy meal and swimming wouldn't be as great as going to the ol' track to watch Pops in his #12 car. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the magic and told myself that I would never go there again. The only thing I enjoyed was watching her older brother play with their little cousin and a little crush was born. (I know... how could a 6 year old already have a crush on someone? I guess I was mature for my age)
Me and Doph in 1990 at Old DominionMe and Doph in 2000 at Old Dominion
Ten years later, a 16 year old girl now, Old Dominion came back into my life. After a long break, Pops was racing again. Doph and her boyfriend were going to watch him race and asked me if I wanted to come. Her brother was coming too. That was all I needed to hear. Ya' see, it was the brother. The brother I had a crush on for the past 10 years. I understood racing a little more this time and it was fun to cheer for Pops. But most of the time my eye was on my crush and I looked for excuses to take pictures of him.
I asked Doph to try and take a picture of us together.
When he was leaving he asked me if I wanted to ride home with him in his Mom's Trans Am. I wanted to jump up and down but nonchalantly responded with, "Sure". I didn't think about how my mom would not approve of this until we were driving down the highway and ran out of gas. But I was thrilled to have this chance to hang out with him and his parents noticed us on the side of the road on their way home. A couple years later we were married and now have three kids. This past Friday, almost another decade since I had been to Ol' Dominion, Rock and I took our kids to go see Pop-Pop drag race at the track. It was with some fondness this time that I looked at the track as we pulled in. It took me back to that day when Rock and I first got to hang out. I also enjoyed the smile on my husbands face as he told some of his childhood memories to our kids. I relished the excitement my MIL had for my FIL as he was about to race and how her face lit up when he waved to us from the track afterwards. I proudly cheered for Pops with his wife, son and grand kids and I finally started to feel the magic that Doph felt as a kid. It wasn't Old Dominion that held the magic like I thought as a 6 year old. (In fact, we had to spend most of the time in the van to keep the kids away from the drunks, curse words, half dressed ladies and the men peeing in the parking lot) It was the love between us all. It was the memories. It was Pops' passion. It was indeed magic.