Proceed With Caution

This past weekend, I went to Talladega. My daughter had told me she really, really wanted to go and it happened to be during her Fall Break from college, so it seemed like it was meant to be. Neither of us had ever been to Talladega. She was very excited to be going. I was also excited, but I was also a little apprehensive. This was going to be my very first NASCAR race, but it was also going to be the longest amount of time I had spent in the sun since my most-recent skin cancer surgery, and that made me a bit nervous. The forecast for race day was sunny and mid-80’s – perfect for the race, but also perfect for a sunburn, and a sunburn was something I could not afford to get.

No shade and a lot of sun

It took more planning on what to pack than what a normal long weekend trip would take me. I had been told there was no shade at Talladega, which meant that if I wanted to watch the race, I’d be directly in the sun. With a start time of 1:00 p.m., I would be directly in the sun during the strongest rays of the day. And with no shade, I’d be sitting in the direct sun, during the strongest rays of the day, just knowing that skin cancer was forming as I watched the cars go around the track. Yikes.

Packing to be prepared for UV rays

But then I decided that I was not going to let my apprehension ruin our trip to Talladega, and that I need to practice what I preach regarding sun safety. Although I couldn’t avoid the hours of the strongest rays of the sun, I could take precautions to help minimize the chance of sunburn. For the race, I packed a shirt with a collar, to protect the back of my neck. I packed sunscreen with SPF 30. I packed a facial moisturizer that has SPF 50. I packed my makeup that has SPF 30. I packed sunglasses. And the thing that I was most glad I had packed was a perfect-sized hat I got from Coolibar. It doesn’t have a huge brim, so I wouldn’t be blocking the view of people sitting behind me and I wouldn’t be knocking it into the people sitting beside me, but it has enough of one to protect my face and ears from the sun. Plus, it’s described as ‘travel friendly, packable and crushable’, which was exactly what I needed, as I was stuffing it in a backpack full of all my sun safety items.

Sunburn free

The race went extra long, due to numerous crashes, and I had been sitting in the sun for over five hours by the time it ended. By that point, I saw a lot of people with bright red, sunburnt necks and faces. I didn’t feel sunburnt, and when we got back to the hotel I took a good long look in the mirror to see if I had gotten sunburned. Amazingly, I hadn’t. The only thing I had forgotten to pack was lip balm with sunscreen, but thankfully my lips didn’t burn. Even with having skin cancer for over twenty years, being sun smart and proactive against sunburns is still a work in progress for me, and next time I need to make sure to pack the lip balm.

We had a great time at Talladega, the race was exciting, I got to spend some much-needed time with my daughter, and, thanks to my preparation with packing, I didn’t get a sunburn. In my book, this definitely counts as a win.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.