They are the greatest fans in the world. Each and every week they cheer on their favorite of 43 of the best stock car drivers in the world. NASCAR Fans are the most loyal and dedicated sports fans you will find.
But twice every NASCAR season there is a show of loyalty that is unmatched. One of those times was this past Sunday after the race in Martinsville, Virginia.
When the multicolored big rigs that haul the 800 horsepower beasts of sheet metal leave Martinsville, most of them are headed back to their raceshops near Charlotte.
The route back to Charlotte starts on Highway 220 just in front of the track and picks up Highway 68 in Guilford County and then takes a right hander on Highway 158 through Forsyth County.
All along that route fans park and wave and hoot and holler at their favorite driver's hauler as it passes them by.
I have seen this show of support everytime I have been to the Martinsville races. This time however I decided to make it a story for later in the week.
I took the turn down 158 into Forsyth County where the most loyal fans seem to come out in numbers. I begain my search for a large group that would set the bar for unique and excess loyalty.
At the northern tip of the little community of Walkertown I saw just what I was looking for. A group of about 100 people gathered on a front lawn, waving and hollering and very jubilant.
I stopped my news unit across the street, much to the delight of the group of raving race fans and began the search for perfect soundbytes and video of the rolling billboards that would soon come flashing by.
"Here comes a truck", cried a woman in a Jeff Gordon shirt, hoping for a goody like a hat or a bag of candy to be tossed from the moving garage.
"Truck, Truck, Truck," shouted voices from the crowd, all while pumping their arms in the air, as the 70 foot rig roared past with it's air horns blaring.
"HONK, HONK, HONK"
And occasionally they get a glimpse of the NASCAR drivers. Before I arrived at the event, driver Robby Gordon rolled down the window on his SUV and said hello to the crowd while waiting for the stoplight to change.
I soon learned that this bi-annual get together is akin to a family reunion for these folks. The youngest in attentence, a cute little 3 year old who doesn't know yet that she likes Kevin Harvick in spite of the fact that her shirt says she does. The oldest relative watching all the action was pushing 80, and she can remember the days before there was such a thing as NASCAR.
Long after the drivers completed their 500 laps, and Jeff Gordon took the victory, the remaining trucks continued to pass and the sun sunk toward the horizon. The group thinned out a little as farewells were bid. At least until October. That's when they race at Martinsville again.