In late March 2011, I was at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana to walk on the track. This was the annual Track Walk sponsored by Coca Cola and held in conjunction with the Auto Club 400 NASCAR race. This is the 2nd year for the event and the 2nd time I have got to walk on the race track before the race. The walk was again led by NASCAR personality “Motormouth Mike” and we were joined by racing legends Ryan Newman and Bobby Labonte, along with approximately 6,000 NASCAR fans. It was a beautiful morning and a great day for walking.
Did you know that NASCAR is one of the most popular spectator sports in the world? I was not aware how fit the drivers have to be to succeed. The inside of a race car is a tough environment, where temps typically exceed 100o F and the forces on the driver’s body often reach 3 G’s (about what a shuttle astronaut experiences during lift-off). With all that stress on the body, race car drivers typically maintain a heart rate of 120-150 beats per minute during the 3+ hours of the race and often lose 5-10 pounds! So I was not surprised when both Ryan Newman and Bobby Labonte talked about how important exercise and being fit is to their success in racing.
On the other hand, the stereotypical NASCAR fan is often not very fit. So this was a perfect opportunity to get the word out about the health benefits of walking, to a large group of folks who really need to hear it. I got the chance to get up on the portable stage with Motormouth Mike and talk to the crowd about how important waking is to their health. And the impact of my message was really amplified when racing legends Newman and Labonte backed up what I had to say.
After the speeches, we then went for a walk down the track and covered nearly half the distance around the oval, which was about a mile. I think for a lot of those NASCAR fans, that track walk was the farthest they had gone in quite some time. But it was easy and fun because of the great company and scenery. I saw nothing but smiles on the faces of those converted NASCAR walkers. And it occurred to me that the best way to get folks to walk is to make is fun and social. That is why I think it is so important to engage your friends and family in your walking routine. To make plans every day (or several days) each week to walk with others. That way, walking will be something you look forward to, instead something you dread.
So get out there and find a friend or family member to walk with!