Do you remember the first time?

So when did it all start for you, this mission to stay abreast of what was happening in the wide and wonderful world of NASCAR? Although I remember clips of Richard Petty being snuck in between the women’s lacrosse and Belgian barrel jumping on ITV World of Sport as a kid, for me Race 1 came while struggling with insomnia in the summer of 2004.

Somehow I happened to watch the one hour highlights of the Winn Dixie 250 Busch Series race from Daytona’s mid-summer weekend – and from the get-go I was hooked. First of all there was the amazing sight of top name drivers competing in the ‘lesser’ class – like Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher hopping out of their cars to go and have a crack in GP2.

Then there was the theatre – from Darrell Waltrip’s bananas commentary to the effect that Dale Earnhardt Jr had on the massive summer crowd. In a car sponsored by KFC! Everything being played out before my weary, disbelieving eyes was infectious.And then came what you see above.

As Ricky Bobby would later say: That. Just. Happened. Among the 14 potential winners, Jason Leffler punted Michael Waltrip out of the lead before sending Dale Jr up to ride the wall very close to where his father died 3 years earlier…

After this clip ends and the lucky winner Mike Wallace had thanked everyone a few more times, the interviewer went and found a rueful looking Junior and asked – with some trepidation – for his thoughts.

The answer was: “Did you ever get so mad you didn’t care if you won the fight or not?”

At that point the deal was done: I was a NASCAR fan.

How about you?