I've got the need for speed

By Jeffery Armstrong

The good thing about working in Journalism is the fact that a reporter can be exposed to many different things. News reporters can report on something simple like a high school student winning an award or something outstanding like covering Presidential candidates speaking to the public. In my communications career, I've covered regular people making news and I've also covered celebrated dignitaries like Nelson Mandela and former Vice President Al Gore speaking to the public. I've seen a lot and covered a lot in this business and when I think about that, I'm really glad I chose to do this for a living.

Now that I am in sports journalism, I have been exposed to another interesting facet: sports I wouldn't even have thought about when I was younger. Those two sports are golf and NASCAR racing.

For those of you who only read my columns and my stories on the Internet, I am an African-African male. We in the black community aren't normally huge fans of golf or auto racing n that's just the way that is. When I was a teen, you couldn't pay me or my African-American buddies to watch golf or NASCAR. We watched the usual suspects n basketball, football and baseball. But since I've been working here at the News Daily and Daily Herald, I have been to a live golf event and I have grown to like NASCAR racing.

Now please do me a favor and don't tell my old friends about this because they probably won't let me back in "the hood." Yep, my ghetto pass would be revoked if the boys in the hood knew I liked NASCAR n and I've never lived in the ghetto. (I just carry a ghetto pass with me just in case I need it).

The sports staff here attended the recent NASCAR race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, each of us doing race stories and I really enjoyed myself. This was the fourth time I've been to a NASCAR race and it's been growing on me each time. I actually know that Ryan Newman's biggest sponsor is Alltel and I can tell you that Bobby Labonte has won several races at the AMS. That's pretty amazing for a black man that was born in New York and grew up in small-town Texas.

I can tell you that my best friend who I grew up with, who's black and now lives in Dallas, doesn't know that.

What I like most about NASCAR is going out to the track area as the race starts, listening to the engines roaring, watching the cars race by at speeds of nearly 200 miles per hour and seeing the pit crew in action. I like to watch the pit crew change the tires and gas up the cars, all within 15 seconds or less. It's truly amazing.

Television doesn't do NASCAR justice. It's really hard to sit at home and watch everyone go around in a circle. Even the pit crews aren't as cool on TV as they are in person. And what's even better about my four trips to the AMS is that there hasn't been a single crash. That's really cool.

It would be nice if everyone n black, white or whomever n had a chance to be in my position and see a NASCAR race in person. I think even the boys in the hood would be impressed.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daily.com.