Nineteen years ago today, on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, American auto racing legend Dale Earnhardt died. This was one year and six months before I was even born, yet sometimes I find myself up late at night watching YouTube videos recapping the horrific day. I can’t imagine how horrible it must have been for Michael Waltrip to have to hoist up that trophy in victory lane wondering, “where is Dale? where is Dale?” before he got the news. The best day of his life became the worst in an instant. Or for Dale Earnhardt Jr, one moment his father was in his rearview mirror and then the next he was gone. How terrible it must be to lose your father on the same racetrack you are racing on, and then have to do it again the next week. What a strong person he is for being able to go back to race at Daytona dozens of times before the end of his career in 2017. Earnhardt’s death was nothing short of horrific, but the safety improvements made in response to it have saved God knows how many lives. No one has died in NASCAR’s three major series in nineteen years. That almost changed last night.
The 2020 Daytona 500 was scheduled for Sunday, February 16th at 2:30 PM, but the start time was moved to 3:30 due to President Trump’s visit and the increased security that came with it. The excitement for this race was more than I could remember ever experiencing, viewership was up 19% from the previous year’s race. We ran twenty laps before it started raining. After a long rain delay, the race was postponed until Monday at 4:05 PM, fitting the finish into the primetime slot. I don’t have much of an opinion on the race, it was fine. I was extremely anxious about the expected wrecks and just hoping Joey Logano wouldn’t get caught in one. I was nearly sick with anticipation, something about this race just made me more nervous than any other I had watched. I’ve watched four, now five, Daytona 500s that I can remember, and I’ve always gotten very excited for them but have never enjoyed the winner. 2016, Denny Hamlin, 2017, Kurt Busch, 2018, Austin Dillion, 2019, Denny Hamlin. If only I had watched 2015, Joey Logano. None of this even seems important anymore. Things that seemed like they meant everything just thirty hours ago seem so pointless to even think about now. There were some crashes, Joey was taken out a few laps before the end and that’s when I stop caring for the most part. Now I look at the leaderboard full mostly of names I don’t know very well. I don’t want Hamlin to win, and I don’t really want Newman to win either. God, I wish he had. Chase Elliott is too far back, as is Kyle Larson. Ryan Blaney could make it happen. Restart. NASCAR overtime, two laps, if they wreck before they make it to the overtime line they have to start again, if they do make it across the line then whoever is leading when the caution comes out wins. They go, one lap to go, Elliott spins in the back, no caution, Hamlin has it, Newman and Blaney try it, Blaney blocks Hamlin, Newman leads, Hamlin pushes Blaney over to Newman, Blaney tries to push Newman to the win but the sudden push is too unstable and Newman is turned, hits the wall, airborne, driver’s side hits hard onto Corey LaJoie’s car, he skids across the track, catching on fire. Hamlin and Blaney race to the line, too close to call they say but I see Hamlin get there first. They credit Blaney for a moment until they decide it was Hamlin’s. I’m upset, but then the camera shows Newman’s car. Fuel is leaking, there’s fire. Looking at the replay the emergency workers get there fast, but it seemed like hours watching it live. It’s going to explode if they don’t get there. That’s not good. Hamlin does burnouts. They put out the fire. The camera can’t decide if it should focus on Newman or Hamlin. It sees that Newman isn’t getting out of the car so it quickly goes to Hamlin. That’s when you know it’s bad, when they won’t show it. His car is upside down on the pavement. Hamlin and his crew are celebrating, but something is very wrong with Newman. They don’t let Hamlin do an on-track interview. They tell him to go to victory lane. He’s confused. I’m in between saying, “darn it, it was so close for Blaney,” to “they shouldn’t be celebrating, something is wrong,” to “Oh my God, they can’t get him out.” I’m not sure when it totally hit me, but I’ve been watching NASCAR since 2017 and I’ve seen plenty of crashes. The driver usually gets out quick, no problem. I’ve seen them airborne. Drivers quickly crawling out of upside-down cars. The worst result I’ve seen was Aric Almirola breaking his back. No one in this series has died in my entire life. You know it’s always possible, but after awhile you just trust that the safety features are good enough and everything will be okay. It always is. My dad often talks about “the good old days,” back when it was “real,” and “dangerous,” and I tell him I don’t care if it’s not as “cool,” as it used to be, I don’t want to worry about Joey getting killed. It’s safer than football. It’s fine. This is the kind of thinking I think we all start to have after nineteen years without a fatality. Dale Earnhardt was the last and it will remain that way. Cars are getting safer every season. There’s been so many crashes that would have meant death in a 1990s NASCAR. I’m not sure when I started crying, but I try really hard not to cry in front of my parents so it was pretty bad. I couldn’t tell you how long it took the workers to get Newman out of the car, we were already on an unscheduled TV time slot so there were maybe fifteen more minutes of coverage before they had to go off the air. Everything about this felt like I was just watching YouTube videos of Earnhardt’s death. I couldn’t see a good outcome. I started to realize the huge probability that Ryan Newman might be dead, and if he isn’t already, he could be soon. Twitter was saying they had a tarp. They had screens put up so fans in the grandstands couldn’t see. It was bad. I felt like I was going to be sick, I could barely breathe. My mother held me while I cried “he’s going to die,” but she couldn’t make it any better. I considered asking her for a Valium. I didn’t want to feel this. I keep trying to find someone who could make it better but there was absolutely no one who could do that. No one but God.
Maybe an hour prior I had talked to God and said, as usual, “this is the absolute dumbest thing to pray for but please let Joey win.” I hate when I do that. I always pray for the most useless things that feel so important, but I know they don’t really matter. I ask anyway. Now I take the dog for a walk outside and sob, begging God to save this man’s life. A man I don’t really know, a man I don’t partially even like. A man we all make thiccc jokes about, no neck Newman. A man who just separated from his wife and has two little girls who need their father. I regret every foul thing I might have ever said about him, knowing full well I didn’t mean any of it. I was just being salty. My father says that these drivers know how dangerous it is when they strap into that car. Aric was back in the car the same season he broke his back. If we had broken our back doing something like that, we wouldn’t ever do it again. But these guys live to race. He says Dale Earnhardt would have been a miserable old man if he had lived to see retirement. I believe that. But that doesn’t change the fact that most of these drivers have wives and little kids and they don’t deserve that. No matter what, I know without any doubt that I never want to see a driver die on the track. But I feel it’s unfolding before my eyes.
The two hour wait feels like forever. My parents make me sleep in their room because I won’t stop crying. I just want to hear something about it, I scroll through messages of #PrayersForNewman on Twitter. I start to feel a little better when the radio says that the ambulance he was in was moving at a rapid pace, unlike with Earnhardt. Maybe he’ll make it. Just before 10:00 PM Steve O’Donnell is expected to make an announcement, I feel that’s not good because it reminds me of Mike Helton’s “we have lost Dale Earnhardt.”
I start to feel like I never want to watch another race again.
O’Donnell shares a statement from Newman’s team. “Ryan Newman is being treated at Halifax Medical Center. He is in serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and ask that you respect the privacy of Ryan and his family during this time. We appreciate your patience and cooperation and we will provide more information as it becomes available.”
The world feels lighter. He’s alive.
It’s still a long time before sleep comes, after midnight, but I feel better. I really didn’t expect him to live. I didn’t really know what to expect, I had never faced anything like this before. I’ve never been very good with death; I cry over strangers on the news but when someone I actually know passes, I simply have no emotion. Granted the closest person to me that has died was my great uncle last year, I still find myself worrying sometimes that I’m heartless. It’s insane how close we can feel to people we don’t even know. Even with me being a bit oblivious to how dangerous racing still is, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the unpleasant idea cross my mind that Joey could die. That’s something I’m very sure that I couldn’t handle. I don’t really think I could have handled Newman’s death, if it was Joey… I really just don’t know. People will think it’s silly how invested we get in these people we’ve never even met, but these are our heroes on the television screen. Nothing bad could possibly happen to them. They’re infinite.
Things are better, but it still hasn’t been an overly pleasant day. I find myself crying at random points. Ryan Newman almost won The Daytona 500 yesterday but instead he’s in a hospital bed. I have a feeling that it was his last race. Roush Fenway releases another statement around noon, it doesn’t say much. A few hours later they release another, “Ryan Newman remains under the care of doctors at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. He is awake and speaking with family and doctors. Ryan and his family have expressed their appreciation for the concern and heartfelt messages from across the country. They are grateful for the unwavering support of the NASCAR community and beyond. We will continue to provide information as it becomes available.” This new statement makes me feel a bit better as I go to sleep tonight, but I still worry. Why won’t they tell us what his injuries are? Is he paralyzed? Broken bones? How serious is “serious but not life threatening” condition? I know about medical privacy and everything, but I’m just really worried. He’s alive but he might be so bad off he wishes he died. God, I hope not. He is alive, but he may not be okay. That is why he still needs prayers tonight.
I’m going to Atlanta Motor Speedway in March. I’m really grateful that it’s no longer the second race on the schedule because I just feel so uncomfortable about everything right now. I guess maybe we needed a wake-up call to remind us how dangerous this sport can be, but I pray to God that is the last one for a long time. It’s been nearly three years since Aric Almirola broke his back, five since Kyle Busch broke his leg. My personal memory can only go back to 2017, but as far as I know, this is possibly the worst crash, result wise, since Earnhardt. We don’t really know yet because there’s not much we know about Newman other than he is alive. I pray for his speedy recovery, physically and mentally.
Can I just say, wow, for me personally, it has been an amazing past year or so music. Most of my favorite artists have released new albums recently and I am 100% here for it.
How I listen: streaming, digital, vinyl, CD, cassette
Favorite songs – I Think He Knows, Lover, It’s Nice To Have A Friend, Afterglow and The Man
Overview: Taylor is my favorite artist and has been for some time, I really didn’t think this would be one of my favorite albums from her though. I absolutely love it, second favorite after RED. Most would consider 1989 to be the peak of career but it’s my least favorite album lol. I think right now she’s making her best music and I’m looking forward to what she makes next even though this just came out. The highlight of Lover is the fact that she is truly in love with someone which produces the most amazing love songs. "I like shiny things, but I'd marry you with paper rings," is everything I've ever needed.
How I listen: streaming
Favorite songs: Symptoms and Insomnia
Overview: perhaps the most underrated album/artist of 2019, this is one of my favorite albums of all time and I wish I could get it on CD or vinyl. When I first started listening to pop music I loved all the Disney singers, Ashley, Hilary Duff, Selena Gomez, etc, and I still love them! Only now I think their music is improving so much, Ashley was one of my favorite singers before Taylor Swift came along but I really didn't know many of her songs. It took her like ten years to release a new album and it's pretty short, nine songs, but it's absolutely amazing. The lead single Voices In My Head released in fall of 2018 was such a surprise to hear and I was so excited about the new album, but also fearful it wouldn't be as good as the lead single. It's better, actually. The first song on an album sets the entire scene and is so important, the first song is the title track which is my favorite song on the album. I love the vibe of this album that hits as soon as I hit play and I love that Ashley is finally expressing what she has been struggling with for years behind the spotlight, her anxiety and depression. This album deserves way, way more recognition than it has.
How I listen: streaming
Favorite songs: Nothing Good Comes Out Of California, Roses and Skeletons
Overview: maybe the most artistic album on the list, containing 10 songs from the 2018 American Idol winner. I never watched the show until last year, I believe it was after Laine Hardy won when I looked into Maddie's music out of curiosity. I'd heard Made You Miss me at some point and thought it was a good song, but I skimmed through a couple of her other songs before giving the whole album a try. It's no real secret that I'm a little hard to please when it comes to new music, I would love to listen to other artists but it's hard to vibe with someone you don't know, you know? Most of the time you just hear a song you like on the radio by a new artist and go from there, seeking someone out is more difficult because you don't know what to expect and maybe try to hard to like it. At least it's that way for me, anyway. I listened to the whole album and thought wow, this is amazing, and it still is. It's not country, but it's not pop. It kind of seems like a genre I write in myself most of the time but does not have a name, I like it. I really love this album, but it's yet another underrated album that I enjoy. It seems like winning American Idol should get famous superstar status, but it's just not that big of a deal anymore. I hope that more people will pay attention to Maddie in the future because she is amazing. Another album I wish was on CD.
4. Singular Act 2
How I listen: streaming, vinyl
Favorite Songs: In My Bed, Take You Back and I'm Fakin
Overview: I wasn't overly impressed with Act 1 when it first came out so I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this album. In My Bed is one of my favorite songs from 2019 and still a total jam. It's a little difficult to watch someone change their music so much in five years when you liked the way they were before, but I understand that Sabrina is in a difficult contract situation and I have to respect her newer music because she wrote it. I became a fan of her because of Eyes Wide Open, but she didn't write that and I'm a lover of songwriters and I think once I realized that I was able to enjoy Sabrina's past few albums a lot more. Sabrina is one of my favorite artists and deserves so much more attention than she gets. Singular was a great growth project and I'm excited about what's coming next.
Carly Rae Jepsen
How I listen: streaming, vinyl (cassette wishlist but it's rare)
Favorite songs: Party For One, Want You In My Room, Right Words At The Wrong Time, Automatically In Love, The Sound, I'll Be Your Girl, Julien
Overview: I list quite a few songs I like from this album, but I was disappointed when it first came out and for awhile afterwords. Party For One was such a good single and I was so excited for the album, but it just didn't match up to the lead single. I also really just don't like the cover art which shouldn't matter, but XD I didn't like it all, but I gave it more than two listens and it grew on me. It's not Carly's best, but it's enjoyable and interesting.
How I listen: streaming (vinyl wishlist)
Favorite songs: Living Proof, Easy, Bad Kind of Butterflies, Senorita and Feel It Twice
Overview: I never really considered myself a fan of Camila, although there's several songs off her debut album I like. I'm not sure what got me hyped for this album, perhaps Senorita being my song of the summer, on repeat everyday. I wasn't overly impressed with the first two singles, but I fell in love with Easy instantly and Living Proof IS ONE OF THE BEST SONGS OF ALL TIME. I love songs that just make you have this desire to scream the lyrics or just not listen. I wasn't as happy with the album when it came out as I'd hoped, but it has grown on me and I enjoy the story it seems to tell.
How I listen: streaming, digital, preordered vinyl (cassette wishlist)
Favorite songs: Rare, Crowded Room, Look At Her Now, Lose You To Love Me, Cut You Off, Ring and Dance Again
Overview: I disagree that this is Selena's first good pop album, Revival was an amazing album, it just happened a long time ago. I've been waiting so long for Selena to release again, but I'm glad she took the time away for her physical and mental help which also added a lot to this album. This chick has been through a lot of shit and I'm glad to see her doing so well now. It just came out recently so it's still growing on me, but the title track is the standout song for sure. I kind of split this album in half because I start to stop listening after song 5 or 6 so more than half of the album has been a bit ignored and I'm starting to listen and enjoy it.
8. Treat Myself
How I listen: streaming, preordered CD (vinyl wishlist)
Favorite songs: Nice To Meet Ya, Evil Twin and Wave
Overview: this album just came out, and while I don't not like it, I'm not crazy about it. I think I was ready for it when it was supposed to be released in August 2018, and then January 2019, and now that it's finally out and it's a nice album but I'm disappointed some of the promotion singles were cut from the album and I wonder what else was cut that we didn't hear. ALL THE WAYS is my favorite song by Meghan but it's only other Target version which means it's not on vinyl, and then the title track itself is only on the Target version. She did that on Thank You too, it's just weird. The title track should be standard! Anyway, Nice To Meet Ya is a bop and features a major artist which helps boost Meghan's career. I hope this album grows on me like other albums on this list have.
How I listen: streaming (cassette and vinyl wishlist)
Favorite songs: Strawberry Shortcake, Wheels on the Bus, Orange Juice
Overview: I wasn't overly impressed with this album, I like the concept but a lot of the songs are like good but not great. Wheels on the Bus is such a great opener but then it just kind of drops a bit. Strawberry Shortcake is such and important and relatable song, that and Orange Juice is probably why this album made the list.
10. WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO
How I listen: streaming (vinyl and cassette wishlist)
Favorite songs: wish you were gay, when the party's over, my strange addiction and bad guy
Overview: I think this album has good songs, but I don't think it's a very good album if that makes sense? The EP don't smile at me is just a stronger collection to me and there's so many songs that are sleepers in my opinion on this album. After 10/14 songs I just stop listening, there's a few sleepers before that but the last four songs are a total snooze fest even though I know they are supposed to be meaningful. Perhaps if it were arranged differently I would like it better.
Some albums I haven't really listened to fully or more than once but I think they're some of the better albums of the past year or so
thank u, next - Ariana Grande
Cuz I Love You - Lizzo
Happiness Begins - The Jonas Brothers
Head Above Water - Avril Lavigne
Trust - Meg Donnelly
Charli - Charli XCX
Manic - Hasley
Hot Pink - Doja Cat
I'm looking forward to more music this year, I'm hopeful that some of my favorite artists will release, Sabrina Carpenter, Rachel Platten, Cher Lloyd. I think Ava Max is promising, I love So Am I.
also just to note, I would love to have everything on CD as it's still a format I love, but unless it's Taylor I just can't afford to buy so many different formats for one album. These days I seek vinyl first, I'm just starting my cassette collection and they are pretty hard to find so cassette is second as of now, and CD is third. I never buy digital, my digital downloads come with vinyl or other purchases. If there's no physical format available I simply stream.
thanks for reading!
well, at least I think it is. I've played around with making a website before but this is the most serious attempt at it and I'm so nervous it's not right XD I learned a lot more in 24 hours than I thought I could so that's good! I didn't really mean to launch the blog but I also wanted to show it off sooooooooo, I updated some thing. I changed the name of this section to "personal blog" as the new section "craft corner" could also be considered a blog. I added the word subscribe to the contact page making it "contact/subscribe." About was a section I had deleted before because I was too lazy to deal with it, but I finally took the time to and I really like it. I added something of a logo on the home page. I can't decide if I should do the same in the top left corner... anyway, there's always some things I could tweak but I think I am ready to launch and share with the world! Thanks for the support from my friends and I hope it continues, because I need it XD
xoxo - Reagan
I have been thinking about starting this blog for so long, just not knowing if I was ready or where to start. Well, I'm still not ready and have no clue what I am doing, but here I am. I don't know exactly what I hope to achieve with this blog, but I know I'll know soon and than I'll let the three people whom read the blog know as well lol.