I got home on Monday in time to watch the latter half of the NASCAR dirt race that was “mudded out” on Sunday. I enjoyed it and probably will continue to enjoy it once a year.
The all-knowing Wizard of Oz known as NASCAR has a tendency to run every fast horse it breeds until the poor nag drops. Once upon a time, the 600-miler at Charlotte drew 160,000 fans. The Wizard thought this was great so he (she/it) decided to run a dozen or so more races that were similar to fans and identical to the inattentive eye.
Turning concrete Bristol Motor Speedway into a dirt track was quite a feat, performed under harsh circumstances. A certain element of it was farcical, though. It reminded me of an expansive parody crafted after a long work shift at a familiar watering hole many years ago when I was but a lad.
You’ve seen those TV ads for monster trucks, supercrosses and tractor pulls, right?
We’re gonna take the Peace Center and turn it into a muuud boggggg! One night only! Be there or be square! Bigfoot! Footloose! Fancy Free! Free Willy! Willie Nelson! The Nelson Riddle Orchestra! Riddle me this! The Riddler! Batman! Robin! …
We’re gonna take Bristol and turn it into a diiiirrrt traaaack!
Cool. Once a year. Hits the spot like an ice-cold Fresca.
Running Cup cars on dirt isn’t much different from running them on greasy asphalt. The cars slip but seldom slide. Purpose-built dirt cars power-slide sideways all the way through the turns. Same red-clay clouds. Don’t wear a white T-shirt if you expect to sweat. It’ll never be white again.
Coincidentally, the local dirt track, where opinion is more tilted toward dirt being for racing and asphalt for getting there, opens Saturday night, weather permitting. I’ve made occasional visits there since I was a young’un. When my job was writing about NASCAR, I often took excursions to short tracks, both dirt and asphalt, on the side. Manzanita, near Phoenix, Ariz., isn’t there anymore. I’ve been to Eldora, Big Diamond, Grandview, South Boston, Hickory, Carraway, Ace, Orange Show, Orange County, Cherokee, 311, Thunder Road, Florence, Jefferson, Lanier, Volusia County, New Smyrna, Senoia and others I can’t recollect at the moment. Then there’s Greenville-Pickens, where my love of racing began.
If you like what you saw at Bristol Monday on TV, you’ll like a local dirt track even better.
I expect I’m going to drop in soon, especially once I get my vaccination. I dropped by there one night last year, and it scared me to death. Either I’m a “scaredy cat,” not a real race fan, or, perhaps, I’d like to live to see a few more of them.
On the other hand, my masks are washable.