Becoming One of Them

Explain your family’s background and how it made you who you are today.

Kicking rocks as I trudged down the windy path to my undesired destination, I heard my dad loading the obnoxious sounding cars onto the ramp. Every time I looked at the vehicle I was being forced to ride in, I couldn’t help but be embarrassed. My dad’s side of the family were the biggest rednecks I had ever met. Not only did my grandmother have over twenty cats living in her house, but she also had about six cars parked in various spots of her lawn. It’s not that I didn’t like my family – I loved them. I just hated what they did every Friday night: I hated going to the racetrack. After contemplating acting sick to get out of going, I finally accepted my inevitable fate and walked up the dusty steps of the piece of junk bus. Now this was not a normal bus; it was cut completely in half with the back end welded to the middle in a sloppy manner, it had a three car trailer, and it was jacked up on 45 inch tires. The worst part was, my family named it the “Swagger Wagon”. Not only was this bus loud and obnoxious, but it was also illegal to drive on the road, which was why we always took back roads to the races.My father jumped up the stairs of the bus, hopped in the seat, and drove quickly out of the bumpy yard and headed towards the racetrack. The roar of cars with no mufflers indicated that we were close to the track. We pulled up into our reserved spot in the pits which had now been labeled for us with a piece of duct tape that said “Woodchuck” (my father’s strange nickname that I never understood) placed on a small sign. I never thought I would actually want to stay on the bus, but my prediction was wrong. I would do anything not to have to breathe the dusty air at a racetrack and see all my dads redneck friends. All of my other ten year old friends were either at the movies, or having sleepovers, and I was stuck here. “Get out here, Paige! You’re going to miss the first race!” My father shouted in his strange southern accent as he unloaded the cars. I slowly worked my way onto the stands, trying to sit the furthest away from everybody else. As the race began, huge clouds of dust formed and it felt as if the small particles of dirt were deliberately trying to hit my face and enter my eyes and mouth. The noise was making my ears ring and the dust was forcing my eyes shut. How do people actually like this? I sure didn’t. As the race continued, my dad came up and sat next to me on the wooden stands. I knew he could tell I hated being there, but he had never said anything to me about it. My father knew someone in every race and he made that quite clear. “Go Number 2!” my father shouted as he came around the curve, passing two cars on the straightaway. Although I did not really know who was in Number 2, I couldn’t help but to begin shouting as well. Cheering was contagious I suppose, but I had never imagined myself getting excited over a race at the track. I watched as Number 10 came up behind him, almost getting passed as they went around the curve, but Number 2 was still holding out strong. It was the last lap and I found myself on my feet, practically jumping up and down. I wanted Number 2 to win, and by the looks of it, he was going to. As Number 2 crossed the finish line, my dad and I quickly looked at each other and started running up to the winners circle to take pictures with him. He was so excited and happy to see his friend make his way up to first place. It was like nothing else mattered to him; the racetrack was his safe haven just as my room was mine. He could always be himself at the track and no matter what happened, even if he was unable to race that night, he was always at the track to support his friends and family. Although I did not understand it at the time, being at the track every Friday night was important to him and I was beginning to respect his feelings. That night made me see the racetrack in a very different way. Seeing my dad so full of excitement and joy seeing his friend win the race made me realize that a race was not just about cars going around in circles spinning dirt into the fans faces; it was about coming out to support the people we care about. The fact that he was cheering and shouting for the person he wanted to win during a race made me want to join him. From then on I could not wait until the next time we went to the track. I never thought when I was ten that I would become the person I am now. Although I am not just sitting in the stands anymore, the racetrack is one of my favorite places to be. The family that once embarrassed me has become my fan base, cheering me on as I am on the track, racing and creating dust, and I would not have it any other way.

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