In the Infield, It's Springer vs. Hollywood
It's David vs. Goliath in the infield.
In this case, the little guy is the tent camper; the big guy is the high-rollers in the RV's.
Neal Moran's a Brevard County firefighter who hails from Brooklyn, N.Y., originally. He's been coming here for years, parking his pickup truck and pitching a tent on a 15x20 foot campsite. He was charged $600 this year, which includes the price of infield admission. The rent covers four nights, Thursday through Sunday. I think Moran got a deal, because his "next door neighbors," Jim and Eileen McComb of Fort Lauderdale, paid $700 for the same package.
While it still beats prices you'd pay to stay in the worst Daytona Beach motel during Speedweek, it's pricing out the folks who helped build the sport into what it is today. That doesn't sit well with Moran: "We're the little people. We built NASCAR. And now they're kicking us out, and that's bull----. Bill France made a promise. He said he'd keep everything there for us, that while he was alive he'd make sure we could all get in. Someone needs to hold the France family to his word."
Moran says they call their section of the infield the "Springer section," as in the Jerry Springer Show. They call the lakefront RV lot "Hollywood." It's one of the few places that my media credentials failed to get me access this week. I tried to go in to interview some of the Hollywood campers, but security wouldn't allow it.
One of the best things about the Springer Section is the view from the top. It's dead smack between turns 3 and 4. I scaled some scaffolding that the McComb's had rented for $40 in Fort Lauderdale and erected over their pickup truck. I watched a few laps of the Busch race with them. Phenomenal view. The McCombs say they're regular campers here and at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C. It's what they do to get away every year.
And then, of course, there's the partying. The infield is where it's at. I was offered free beer and food from everyone I talked to in the Springer section. These are my people. My NASCAR nation.
It did get a little rowdy in the Springer section last night. I saw one fight, the kind you almost expect after a long day of partying in the hot sun. But I've seen some fights over the years, and this one was pretty typical. A couple of missed punches and then some wrestling on the ground until calmer heads intervene. No one hurt in the end.
Otherwise, the infield the night before the 500 was lovey-dovey. Bonfires and bottle rockets, barbecues and beer. It was too bad I couldn't hang for long, I had to get down the road to visit with my racing buds.
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