NASCAR fans kick off 'Race Month' in North Carolina - FOX 32 News Chicago

NASCAR fans kick off 'Race Month' in North Carolina

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It's the number one spectator sport in America and it has the fastest growing group of fans. It isn't football, baseball, basketball or hockey. I'm talking about NASCAR. It's also the number one sport watched by women. To find out why, I took a turn behind the wheel at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.

More than a 100 thousand fans pack the stands on race days and nearly half are female. From advertisers to the clothing, NASCAR is welcoming women with open arms. The attraction is high energy and high speed combined with the clean cut, handsome and well spoken drivers. But, Fox Racing Analyst Larry McReynolds says it's a woman that may now be the biggest draw of all.

"I think she has brought another set of eyeballs watching our sport. We're excited to have her," McReynolds said.

She is Wisconsin born Danica Patrick, who left formula one racing to join NASCAR last year.

Patrick isn't NASCAR's first female driver, she's actually the 16th. Back in the day common wisdom said women couldn't handle a big stock car. But, Sara Christian proved them all wrong when she raced her husbands Ford in the 1940s.

So, these Queens of the speedway inspired me to take my own turn at the wheel. And after a short briefing I'm off to the track.

The rules are no burn outs: do what the pit chief says on headset and at all cost avoid the track where the flat apron meets the 33 degree bank.

After a thumbs up, I hit it. It takes a few laps to get used to the track and the car. I shy from of pouring on speed in the turns and really focused on driving the middle of the track, but my crew chief tells me to go faster and I do. But here I put the petal to the metal and sail past 130. The car handles great. Confidence up, I'm ready to go faster, but they gave me the checkered flag.

Some of the biggest NASCAR races are coming up later this month right here on Fox including the Coca Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend. If you are interested in NASCAR driving, there will be opportunities this summer at the Chicagoland Motor Speedway in Joliet. And part two of my NASCAR adventure including the brand new NASCAR Hall of Fame is coming up next weekend.

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