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The Car Guy of Benchfield welcomes Jan Bazen to the "staff". This is one of three columns she wrote in September of 2001.
Racing Felt Good...
by Jan Bazen
Like most Americans, I have been glued to the news channels 24/7 since September 11, 2001, to the point where I feel like I have a personal relationship with Peter Jennings, Charlie Gibson, Diane Sawyer and the host of other reporters from CNN and MSNBC. In fact, I was sitting at my computer with the television blaring in the background on that unforgettable Tuesday morning. I turned and glanced at the TV screen and saw that Charlie Gibson was showing the world a picture of the first World Trade Center tower billowing smoke and flames. I watched in horror as the second plane came across the screen and rammed into the other tower. My heart leapt up in my chest and the air whooshed from my lungs in a shocked rush. Trembling, I reached for the phone to call my Mom. Funny how we all wish for our Moms when troubles surround us. My second call was to a friend whose daughter was working at the WTC during the bomb explosion several years ago. Her daughter had moved from New York three months ago....to Washington DC, where her other two children also reside. None of them work at the Pentagon.
Since September 11, I startle more easily. My husband can walk soundlessly into a room and touch my shoulder, then have to peel me off the ceiling afterwards. My son laughs with joy now that he can scare his mom and make her jump for the first time in his short ten years. Let's hope he gets to see eleven.
Since I live in a military town, I am used to hearing planes overhead -- the military airstrip is less than a mile from my house. Yet, there was an eerie silence for the two days after the WTC attacks while the planes were grounded. I spent the next 5 days after that trying not to jump whenever I did hear a plane overhead. That sound that once was comforting. There is a brick sign outside the airbase that reads: "Pardon our noise, but it is the sound of Freedom". I've always loved that sign-- the sounds of airplanes had never bothered me before. I am slowly taking comfort in those sounds again.
Like many Americans, I spent that first week looking everywhere for a large American flag to hang outside my house and a smaller one to fly from my car. And like many others soon found out, there were none to be had. So, I bought materials and made my own...my husband hung it proudly on the house just today. It may not be perfect, but it is hung with perfect pride.
Today as I sat down to watch the Dover race, I wondered if I would have the same enthusiasm for racing as I did before September 11…. It didn't take long to find out. I cried and was covered in chill bumps as I listened to Lee Greenwood andTanya Tucker sing and saw the crowd waving flags while they chanted: USA…USA… USA. I thrilled at the start of the engines. I watched enthralled as Jeff Gordon managed to control his car through every wreck and love tap. I screamed at the top of my lungs when Rusty Wallace spun out Ricky Rudd, who managed to stay in the race and finish 3rd just in front of Jeff. I gasped as I watched Tony Stewart get into Dale Jarrett and spin him out and into a 12th place finish. Satisfied that Jeff had raced his very best in spite of the odds and finished 4th, I watched with immense pride as Dale Earnhardt Junior took the victory lap while flying the Stars and Stripes from his window. And for several hours, I didn't think about the World Trade Center or the Pentagon…. I didn't relive the site of the planes crashing into the buildings….. I didn't once turn the TV to CNN or MSNBC for the latest updates…. I laughed and screamed and cried tears of pride and joy.
Yes, it was good to be racing again.
Jan is a RN who lives on the North Carolina coast with her husband, three children and her dog. When not watching or reading about Nascar, she enjoys fishing...any kind of fishing. She enjoys gardening and reading. Although Jan is new to the sport of Nascar, she was exposed to Nascar from the early, tender age of 5 by her older brother, Fred, who has always been a diehard Nascar fan. Jan welcomes any comments or opposing views. You can contact her by clicking on the North Carolina tag above.
2001 Car Guy of Benchfield