How much money does one spend on racing T-shirts, caps, flags, bobbleheads, diecast cars, coffee cups, drink coasters, can holders, Christmas ornaments, key rings, posters, lamps, clocks…? The list goes on and on. How many of these things do you feel are collectible? We’ve all purchased some of these items through the years, but for me personally, I have worn out the T-shirts, let the grandkids play with the diecast cars; and I’ve either lost, broken or thrown out the coffee cups, can holders and key rings. If you take a closer look, the racing souvenirs we’ve all purchased through the years are probably not all that collectible. The moments of getting that favorite driver’s signature and watching them compete side by side, these memories of attending race tracks, are the collectibles.
My grandkids love going into the pits after a night of racing. They look for the bowls of candy sitting on the trunks of the cars. They also like getting the race-driver-cards, some with signatures, and if they’re lucky, from the drivers themselves as they stand by their car talking with the race fans. URFWI members #003 and #004 already have quite the collection of these cool looking handouts. They like to show Grandpa the new ones they collect every time Dad takes them to a night of fun at the track. That’s what these souvenir things are meant for: fun. It is fun to wear a shirt or a cap with your favorite driver to a race, and it is fun to let people know who you will be following lap after lap. When the race season is over, the following year will bring new drivers and paint schemes. Therefore, new souvenirs are again available to be bought and collected. But what are the real collectibles here?
My personal race adventures have tempted me through the years to buy a new cap at least every other year. I’m a Matt Kenseth fan so I have a collection of old worn out #17 and #20 racing caps. The memories I have of Matt: when he would be leading the pack at Slinger and at Madison International Speedway, watching him pay his dues in NASCAR’s stepping stone series, and working his way up to the top of his field in the Cup Series; are some of my most valuable recollections. I can’t put a price on this. In my home, I have a driver-card of the Hooter’s #7 hanging up that was autographed by Alan Kulwicki at, where else but Slinger Speedway. I will never forget him signing cards for all of his fans, one of which was my son Rich. His eyes were fixed on seeing his favorite driver up close. Again, I can’t put a price on this. Every time I look at this framed piece or put on my cap, a collection of memories return to my mind. I see Kulwicki’s #7 car with the colorful Zerex paint scheme turning laps on the high banks of our favorite speedway. I remember vividly, as if it were last weekend, the driver of the #8 Kenseth being introduced as “Matt the Brat” before the start of a feature event. The cards and hats are only cardboard and cloth; the collectibles are the memories. These items are fun to have, but they have a much more meaningful purpose: they trigger the memories you’ve collected.
So keep on supporting your favorite drivers and race tracks by collecting the collectibles. Some may end up in the trash someday, or maybe given away or sold to another collector, but everyone has special souvenirs they hang on to, the ones you won’t part with. These are the keepers. The most meaningful collectibles are those with the memories attached.