TUNKHANNOCK TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Tens of thousands of fans packed Pocono Raceway on Sunday for NASCAR's Gander RV 400 race. Well before the engines fired up, some fans took to the track to leave messages for their favorite drivers.
Traditions are widespread across sports and we see countless examples of this all the time. Some are impactful. Others are simply just done for fun. At Pocono Raceway, there's a tradition that's both impactful and memorable for kids. It involves a Sharpie, a wall, and some well wishes.
NASCAR is known for its loud and powerful cars as well as its wild and raucous crowds. At Pocono Raceway, fans--especially kids--are able to connect with their favorite drivers not just from the stands but through written, personal messages.
Nick Benz is a Joey Logano fan from New York.
"I just picked a driver when I was younger and I kept going with him, and he seemed like a nice guy so I kept being a fan of him, and now he's my favorite driver," Benz said.
During a time when everybody seems to be on their smartphones, tablets, or computers, the written word is seen by some as a lost art. But along pit row, your penmanship better be on point. Hours before the race, fans can leave messages for the drivers they admire the most in front of their pit boxes.
Dominick DeStevens had a message for his hero, Jimmie Johnson, ahead of the 46th annual Gander RV 400.
"He's been racing for a long time, and he just never gives up. He always fights with the other drivers and just keeps driving," DeStevens said.
For some of the kids at Pocono who have big dreams and aspirations of becoming a professional driver someday, it's their hope that in the future, the roles are reversed. That other kids are signing the wall along pit row for them.
"My son races quarter midgets at Lehigh Valley Quarter Midget Racing Club outside the parking lot at Pocono Raceway, and we spend every weekend here. Friday nights, letting him race, living his time out, and to bring him here on the bigger scale, with the bigger drivers, it gives him something to strive for and something to achieve," said Danny Ivancich of Palmerton.
If you'd like to ink the wall, you have to have pit access and arrive early.
Denny Hamlin won the Gander RV 400, his fifth victory at Pocono Raceway.