Beachum: 'I was awestruck'

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Kelvin Beachum loved race cars and NASCAR so much growing up in Texas, that his parents bought him a Jeff Gordon race track for Christmas one year.

He would watch races on television and enjoy the thrill of seeing the cars whip around the race track at lightning speed.

It wasn't until about a month ago, though, that his love of the sport escalated to the next level.

Beachum had the rare opportunity of being a guest in the 'Hot Pit' at the Phoenix International Raceway in March for the NASCAR Sprint-XFinity Series, an area where you can feel the vibration from the cars and the full excitement of what is happening on and off the track.

Steelers tackle Kelvin Beachum get up close and personal with NASCAR.

This past weekend, he was back at it, attending the Duck Commander 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Dallas with his father, Kelvin Sr., taking him to his first NASCAR race.

"He had never been to a race," said Beachum. "To get him out of the house and to the big city to an event like this was special. We don't get to spend enough quality time like this. It was just me and Pops going to the racetrack. Some go to baseball games with their dad, but we went to NASCAR. It was special and amazing to have this time together. I don't get to spend a lot of one on one time with my dad, so it was great."

Beachum's father has an auto repair store, so he is accustomed to being around cars, the details of changing tires, and the like. But no matter how many tires the father-son combo have changed in their life, it's nothing like NASCAR.

"I have taken off tires, changed brakes, but to see them do it at that speed is unreal," said Beachum. "I was floored to see someone change a tire that fast. Not just one tire, but four tires.

"My dad has an even greater appreciation for it. Some of the tools he uses at his shop are the ones they use at the track. It's the same products he uses on cars he works on. At the first one I went to I met the guys who actually make the tools and thought my dad would love this. My dad was like a kid in a candy store. Him seeing a car running this fast on a track, going 200 miles an hour, then they hit the pit crew for like 14 seconds was amazing for him. I loved seeing him smile."

Beachum, who admitted to being uncommonly star-struck seeing the NASCAR drivers, said it was amazing to see how fast the cars actually do move, and how loud it is in the pit area.

"On television it looks so slow," said Beachum. "It looks like it takes forever to get around the track. At the track, oh my Lord they get up to 20 laps and you just blinked your eyes. It's a fast moving sport. This took me to a whole other level. I was all googly eyes. I was awestruck walking around those guys, and I don't get that way. They are so down to earth.

"The noise too, it's crazy. I had headphones on and you still could hear it. It is extremely loud. You can feel the ground rumbling. When they crank the cars up you feel it. I felt the juices pumping and we aren't even in football season. It's an experience you have to go do for yourself."

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