Everything Bremerton: A day that forever changed racing history

Feb. 18, 2001 is a day I will always remember for a number of reasons. As an avid member of NASCAR Nation, I was glued to the TV watching the Daytona 500 play out in the usual nail-biting, gut-wrenching and wreck-filled fashion. Having just entered the 38th week of my first and only pregnancy, I simply wanted to spend most of the day with the appendages that used to resemble my feet, propped up to where I could finally see them again and allow the ongoing action of the race to distract me from a barrage of pregnancy discomforts.

Who would have thought that an average looking wreck on the last lap of the biggest race of the year would end up changing the sport and everyone associated with the sport forever.

That evening I learned that we had lost Dale Earnhardt from this world. The next day, on Feb. 19, I welcomed my new son Nicholas into that same world. Both events will pass their 10-year mark this week.

I have been to Daytona several times. Never for the pleasure of the 500 but for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona Grand Am race as well as some simple lapping days. It seems very fitting that Nick and I will be down there again, next month in March, during his spring break. I have touched the statue that is set in memory of Dale Earnhardt. I have stood on the infield of the track watching some of the fastest sports cars on the planet navigate the road course at top speed. I have sat right behind the checkered flag at the end of a grueling race. Daytona has a very special feel to it that speaks to you as a race car fan.

Kitsap had a chance at the big time racing dream several years ago. It did not work out for a whole host of reasons for which I blame both sides. So instead, I take my passion for racing to Daytona, Las Vegas, Atlanta and hopefully next year, to Austin, Texas for the first Formula One race on their new purpose-built track.

This year I am also using my passion for racing to give back to the youth of my community. On March 12, the local chapters of the Boys and Girls Club will be hosting their annual fundraiser at the Admiral Theater. As a long-term season ticket holder to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway NASCAR race, I have donated two of my six tickets to be auctioned off with all of the proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club. I hope that some of you will consider attending the event. Keep checking their website, www.bgcsps.org/bremerton for more information.

Happy 10th birthday, Nick Smidt. We miss you Dale Earnhardt, No. 3 forever.

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