Last year when I was sick, I had to cancel a trip to Daytona, FL for the Daytona 500. While battling cancer, I was also battling Southwest Airlines for a refund on my airfare; apparently getting said refund is harder that beating cancer but that is another story.
I toured Daytona International Speedway with my family back in 1989. Back when racing wasn't big nationwide, back before Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson, back before my Dad passed, back when I was younger. Sure, I was 21 but I didn't consider myself an adult.
My Dad loved stock car racing. When he was alive, the only race on TV unless you had some obscure cable channel called SPEED was the Daytona 500. If he was alive today, he would be beside himself with the coverage and Mom would not be amused with the size of the cable bill. LOL
Since his passing I have been to races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Kansas Speedway, and Chicagoland Speedway. He would have loved a race in person. He loved the tour of Daytona more than 5 days in Disney. He was like a kid in a candy store. I have such fond memories of that trip; our last family trip before he passed away. He loved Daytona Beach as well; something about cars on the beach... Honestly Daytona Beach is a cheesy little town but there is something about it that is very appealing. My Dad got it, I get it.
I remember hearing the words from my oncologist that the trip to Daytona was a no-go once I started chemo. I was crushed but I needed to get well and honestly wasn't strong enough to make the trip at that point anyway. So I got to work getting well. At the same time construction crews were working on Daytona International Speedway...on a $400million renovation of the World Center of Racing. We both made fantastic progress.
Last Spring the doctors told me I was in remission and I should get to work enjoying life; so I re-booked the trip for Feb 2016.
I follow NASCAR and most of the tracks on the circuit on social media so I got many many updates on the progress of the renovation. The closer I got to February the more excited I got. Then the tickets came and I just about lost my mind.
I started following the weather 3 weeks in advance because you know you can predict weather 3 weeks in advance! Thank goodness you can't...60 and rainy is not appealing when you're sitting still for 3+ hours.
As the time grew closer I'll be honest, I had some nerves. I packed cold meds, pain meds, allergy meds, etc. What if I got sick? What if it snowed? What if the race was rained out?
On the day we were flying Chicago had terrible winds. Gusts over 60mph. Flying is all kinds of fun when it's windy...as if I am good flyer to begin with.
We made it. The weather on race day was PERFECT!! The tagline for the renovation at Daytona International Speedway is "Daytona Rising". Those words always made me smile. You see, I believe I was meant to see the new track and if I had been able to go last year, it would not have been finished. So I practiced patience (those who know me, do not laugh here). I got healthy, I made it.
I got teary at the track several times. As I said before, Dad would have LOVED it.
Now I know that crews at the track will paint that yellow line over and over. But I was there...it's there in black and well, yellow. It will be there forever...or until they decide the track needs to be repaved. I was very nostalgic the whole time we were in Florida. I have many fond memories of that trip in 1989 and I have a bunch of new ones from my trip last week. It was nothing short of amazing.
A check on my bucket list
A dream fulfilled
The smallest margin of victory in the history of the Daytona 500
4 inches, .001 seconds
Closing in on a milestone