Hi…my name is Mary Delucca and I live in Wood Dale, a suburb of Chicago. I am so happy to be a part of Ladies of Speed and hope you will begin to follow me as I cover the weekly laps of the #42 Chip Ganassi Driver, Kyle Larson and his crew.
I began my NASCAR passion back in the days of Wide World of Sports, (yes, I am dating myself), and attending my first race in Daytona for the Firecracker 400 in 1985; in what turned out to be one of the biggest upsets in NASCAR history. Greg Sacks was able to win the 1985 Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway driving an unsponsored, research and development Chevrolet for the DiGard Racing team. I was able to go into the pits after the race and that is where my heart for NASCAR was left.
In 2004, my husband and I talked about a hobby we both can share since he is a Chicago White Sox and I am a Chicago Cubs fan. I suggested NASCAR. We agreed it would be something different. I have been following Jimmie Johnson ever since. I collect almost anything NASCAR. You could call me a huge fan of Johnson’s….so much so we have a quarter panel and an actual rim and tire hanging from our family room wall. “Honey, all you have to do is….”
We attend Chicagoland, Indy, Michigan, and Kentucky every year. I also have been to the following tracks: Charlotte, Las Vegas, Daytona and Atlanta. In Atlanta, I got to ride shotgun with Dale Jarrett for 3 laps around the track.
I enjoy attending races in person rather than watching them on TV as there is nothing better than the sun rising over the track, the sounds of the 1st practice of the day, wandering through the infield, the midway, standing in lines for autographs or bumping into drivers as your day progresses. The rush that I get during driver intros and the festivities leading up to those weekly words of, “Drivers, Start Your Engines” is indescribable.
People make fun of me – NASCAR – how do you sit there and watch those cars go in circles? You have to be a fan to understand – there is more than turning that steering wheel left all the time – it is the-set up, the draft, the strategy, the emotions, and the crew, the crew chief’s and spotter's last minute decisions and communications and the thrill of victory with the smell of the smoke and rubber from your driver’s burn-out. I now have 3 generations of NASCAR fans in our family. My 8 year old grandson, Colton turned me on to a newbie called Kyle Larson. He liked him for several reasons; the sponsorship was easy for him to identify - Target, the hometown of Larson - Elk Grove, CA, (my grandson lived in Elk Grove Village, IL) and his size. We always laughed that they both could see eye to eye.
But seriously, I began to follow and love Kyle Larson for his determination, his speed and his adaptation from his other rides to the Cup Series. I was fortunate to be in the Michigan stands with my husband and grandson the day when Larson won his 1st race in the Cup. It was the day I gained greater love of the sport….watching my grandson, the future fan of NASCAR see his driver cross the finish line #1 for the first time.