A Crash, A Smile, and A Dream Come True
In May, if you asked me about New Hampshire Motor Speedway, I'd have needed to recall some grainy childhood memories of metal grandstands, red-flag inducing rain clouds, and a couple stories that still put a smile on my face.
My first NHMS memory happened as a fan. The year was 2008; I sat in the Concord grandstands outside Turns 1 and 2 with my dad. I don't remember much of the race, or who won for that matter, but I do remember a car crashing into the infield tunnel wall and the look of total embarrassment on the driver's face as the section of fans near the scene began to give him a standing ovation.
Fast-forward three years to July 2011. I'm walking through the Fan Zone with my sister when I noticed a sign that made me stop in my tracks. "Special guest Steve Park," the sign read. Steve Park was my favorite driver before he retired and actually grew up minutes away from my home on Long Island. My sister and I walked into the Lite Lobster Lounge and went right up to Steve where he signed my ticket stub and took a picture with me. I think Steve was more excited than I was. He told my sister we were the first people to recognize him all day. I cherished that moment for the rest of the weekend.
Fast-forward to April 2017; I'm sitting in my college dorm room in pure jubilation. I've been offered an internship with the Digital Media department at the same track that has given me so many memories throughout my childhood. I couldn't sleep for days; I was too excited and anxious.
My first day interning at NHMS, I was nervous beyond belief. A year ago I was cleaning golf karts for minimum wage, being called Max because Alex was "too long to remember." Now I'm sitting behind the scenes of the largest spectator venue in New England. When I walked through the office doors, I felt immediately like part of the family. The energy this place has is electrifying and unlike any company I've seen. Every office you walk past has more positive vibes than the previous one.
As an unpaid intern, my biggest fear was not gaining experience in what I wanted to do, and spending my entire summer getting coffee and doing remedial tasks, but hey at least they'd know my name, right? I've been here for almost three months now and I've never had to fetch someone's low fat, decaf, non-shaken, blended caramel macchiato from Starbucks. Plus I'm called by my real name here, so this is already better than any job I've ever had. The most remedial thing about this internship is the consistent self-inflicted lunch diet of peanut butter sandwiches and Subway.
From editing media tour videos, to doing social media for driver appearances, to filming Mini Oval and Loudon Road Race Series races, every assignment seemed fresh and exciting. I'll always be thankful for the professional experience I've gained here, but it's the little moments that I will take with me. Moments like Danica Patrick coming up to me and saying, "can we get out of here?" Her meaning of the phrase and mine were totally different, but my friends don't need to know that. Moments like meeting Josh McDaniels and standing next to him as the national anthem played. Moments like being in victory lane and being so close that the steam from Denny Hamlin's engine and the spray from his Gatorade shower made its way onto my NHMS polo.
Before I started, I had no clue what I wanted to do, I just knew I liked NASCAR and it would be cool to work with them in some capacity. Thanks to NHMS, not only do I have a direction professionally, but I've also experienced the best summer of my life personally.
I'd compare NHMS to going to your first MLB game. You walk out of the main concourse and stare out onto the field and smell the fresh cut grass. Your mind just hits a special kind of euphoria. You pull up to the track and see the grandstands, maybe hear the sound of an engine roaring, and go through the gates surrounded by red wagons, and passionate race fans.
Now, if you were to ask me about New Hampshire Motor Speedway, I'd sum my memories up in three words: best summer ever.