Rain doesn’t dampen excitement at Dover speedway

NASCAR fans, at left, Zach Westpy, Harrison Werner and his father Kirk Werner, all of Elmwood Park, N.J., sit by a fire during a rainy Thursday afternoon at their Monster Mile campsite. At right,  From left, Kevin Gonzalez of Avennel, N.J., sits at his campsite with his father, Louis Gonzalez of Key Port, N.J., friend Jackie Marottoli of Sayreville, N.J. and his mother, Joann Gonzalez, at the start of a very wet weekend. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

NASCAR fans, at left, Zach Westpy, Harrison Werner and his father Kirk Werner, all of Elmwood Park, N.J., sit by a fire during a rainy Thursday afternoon at their Monster Mile campsite. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — For Jimmy Gerald, the words “dedication” and “stupidity” were interchangeable on Thursday morning.

The Millsboro resident has attended NASCAR race weekends at the Monster Mile since 1979 — missing just one, he said — and wouldn’t analyze what impact Hurricane Joaquin might have on this one.

Maybe he would see his favorite driver Kevin Harvick, maybe he wouldn’t. He once watched a fall race while it was sleeting, but a hurricane forecast was a matter of the great unknown.

The incoming weather pattern would be decided by God, he said, and there wasn’t a thing he could do about it except wait for its arrival.

“Whatever the big man wants is what is going to happen,” he said as light rain from ominous gray clouds fell on his

Kevin Gonzalez of Avennel, N.J., sits at his campsite with his father, Louis Gonzalez of Key Port, N.J., friend Jackie Marottoli of Sayreville, N.J. and his mother, Joann Gonzalez, at the start of a very wet weekend.

Kevin Gonzalez of Avennel, N.J., sits at his campsite with his father, Louis Gonzalez of Key Port, N.J., friend Jackie Marottoli of Sayreville, N.J. and his mother, Joann Gonzalez, at the start of a very wet weekend.

campground in the shadows of Dover International Speedway.

“Being here now could be termed either dedication or stupidity, whatever you want it to be. I enjoy it. It’s a little miserable but you can’t control the weather.”

Bundled up and reclining in a lawn chair nearby was Mr. Gerald’s daughter Jackie, who had gall bladder surgery on Monday and was heading to Dover from Mullica Hill, New Jersey two days later.

There was never a doubt that Jackie — a huge Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan — would make the trip, even two days before the opening NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Drive Sober 125 was scheduled to start its engines.

“This has been typical family camping for at least 20 years,” she said. “I never considered not coming. I’m just sitting here and I would have just been sitting at home, so why not come here?”

Her husband Rick Desanctis — who pulls for Kyle Busch — wasn’t optimistic that he would see much racing if any, including Saturday’s NASCAR Infinity Series Hisense 200 and Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series AAA 400.

“It looks pretty grim,” he said. “I’d be surprised if we see any racing this time.”

In the interim, Mr. Gerald and family weren’t veering from the annual routine.

“On Thursday we go to the casino, eat oysters for dinner and I lose $100, never more than that,” he said.

“On Friday night its off to Boondocks in Smyrna for crabs, and Saturday night we’re here because there’s really no way to leave with everything going around us.”

Truly a treat

Standing outside their 37-foot Avalon camper, Brenda and Ron Alleva were visiting Dover for the seventh or eighth time from New Jersey.

Of course they wanted to see racing, but acknowledged that there’s more to visiting the Monster Mile than that.

“Just to see everyone that comes every year again is a treat,” Mrs. Alleva said. “These are the best people in the

Campers parked outside Dover International Speedway could be in for a  wild weekend.

Campers parked outside Dover International Speedway could be in for a wild weekend.

world, and the camaraderie can’t be beat.”

However, Mrs. Alleva said, “We’re hoping to get a break in the weather that lets at least some of the racing to be run.”

Mr. Alleva said, “We were coming here no matter what.”

And who is Mrs. Alleva pulling for on Sunday?

“Go Jimmie Johnson!” she answered.

Her husband is a Mark Martin supporter, and likes the promise of youthful driver Kyle Larson.

Jim and Nancy Funk of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania were located near the entrance at the corner of Plaza Drive and Leipsic Road, still setting up their camping area after arriving on Wednesday afternoon.

Inside their camper were their daughter, stepson, and 4-year-old son grandson, a huge Kyle Busch fan.

“They go fast,” the youngest fan said when asked what he liked most about coming to the races.

Ms. Funk didn’t harbor great expectations for the racing climate ahead, and wasn’t sure if she and her husband would see their favorite Jeff Gordon in action.

“It could be better and it could be worse, which I think it’s going to be when it gets here,” she said.

Mr. Funk said his family has attended Dover races for the past six years and loves the mile-long track that keeps the racers always in sight.

“This is so much better than Pocono, which is 2 1/2 miles long and where you lose sight of what the drivers are doing at the far end of it,” he said.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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