Driving into the Holidays
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on December 24, 2013 | 10:14 A.M. EST
NASCAR Nation is driving into the Holidays. (Photo: Getty Images)
While some will take vacations and travel to enjoy the time off, others are simply content to stick around home for much needed relaxation.
"Yeh not much, going to Wisconsin to see some people there like we usually do," said Badger State native Matt Kenseth. "Thinking about taking the girls and getting them some ski lessons. I don't know if I'm going to or not but thought about that then maybe go do some snowmobiling with buddies if we have some snow."
Make no mistake, even though there will be some much-needed down time for those who work inside the busy industry, the sport will most likely still be on the minds of most. After all Preseason Thunder Testing at Daytona Int’l Speedway is on the schedule the week after the calendar changes to 2014.
But at least some will be able to take advantage of time with family and friends through Christmas and New Year’s.
“It’s gonna be fun,” said Greg Biffle. “My daughter’s gonna be two-and-a-half and really kind of gets it now. That’s the most fun for me, to get to see the new things she says…you never know what’s coming and it’s a lot fun.
“I’m also gonna wind down and watch a little football. You know I don’t watch a lot of football but when it’s cold outside it’s nice and I just enjoy watching games.”
Biffle’s Ford Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards is looking forward to the season of goodwill and a chance to give thanks.
“One of the neatest things about Christmas for me is just to be able to tell people with a card or a phone call how much they mean to you,” said Edwards. “You know it’s neat to, a lot of time I’ll write all day letters that say ‘Hey I really appreciate what you did’ and people say they really appreciate what you did and that it meant a lot to them. I think it’s important to let people know how much they mean to you.”
Family is a major common thread during this time of the year for a number of drivers including Jeff Gordon, who is simply looking forward to spending Christmas with his two children Ella and Leo.
"It changes every year," said Gordon. "Ella gets older and she's that much more excited about Christmas. Now Leo is that much more into it and starting to get excited about it. We try to do special things with Elf on the Shelf and Santa Claus, make Christmas very special. Instead of feeling guilty about having presents and going 'we don't need presents, who are we doing this for ourselves," now it's all about them and you just love seeing them tear open gifts and be excited about what it is. It's a little disappointing when they say "where's the next one' but you know it's a special time for us."
It’s not just drivers who are looking forward to the holidays and a little break from the hectic norm of the season. Crew chiefs also have their sights set on some fun away from work.
“We’re gonna take the family up to a cabin in the mountains for the Christmas break,” said Drew Blickensderfer, crew chief for Marcos Ambrose. “It’ll be nice to just get away from a lot of a while and spend time with the family, who make so many sacrifices during the year for those of us that travel and work as part of the NASCAR world.”
Favorite memories are always part of the Christmas conversation and it’s no surprise many drivers have warm feelings about gifts they received built to race.
“I got a go kart one year,” said Joey Logano. “I go out to the garage and it’s sitting there with a bow on it. That’s all I did and apparently ever since that’s all I do is drive . So that’s my favorite Christmas gift I ever had.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has some similar childhood memories.
“Man I was fortunate growing up, dad always got me the coolest gifts,” said the 2013 Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year. “When I was four, dad got me a dirt bike. That was probably the biggest thing, biggest step up you know getting on things with wheels and a real engine. Then when I was five he got me my first dirt go kart and I got to race so those were two Christmases that got me started off back to back and that was pretty cool.”
The rest as they say is history.