Friday, May 13, 2016

Days of Thunder

By William McRight

It is time. After an exhausting Republican primary where we have come to understand what stupidity looks like when it crystallizes and metastasizes and takes human form, I need a break. I can’t even. To even think of a choice between a crook and a schnook sends me into a gloomy stupor. And I cannot do that this weekend. For it is time to race.

It is time for the annual pilgrimage to The Monster Mile in Dover, Delaware. NASCAR, you say? A conservative stepping up to the altar of rubber and smoke and Sunoco and red neckery? You betcha.

I realize many of you fine people don’t understand the merits of watching a bunch of cars making 2000 left turns over a series of hours. I’ll grant you, on TV it is a long haul. In fact, the whole reason the networks air the “Crank it Up” segments (where they simply play car audio and hope that you turn it up so loud that you understand what I am about to tell you) is to simulate the noise and sounds of an “in person” experience at the track.

I’d say that the best way to understand the success of NASCAR is to see it live. From the moment you arrive it is an assault on your senses. Tailgating, Food Trucks, disgusting Porta Johns,  the smells of rubber and fuel from the pits are all intoxicating. Except for the Porta Johns. They are nasty. What really shapes the experience is the sound.

I can pinpoint the one moment I became a fan of NASCAR. It was my first race. I went as part of a sponsorship experience with my job at the time. I thought, “Well a few hours with customers, a beer or two and I am out. No harm, no foul.” My brother in law, a devout NASCAR devotee, warned me to protect my ears, but he told me to listen to the restarts (when the racing starts for the first time or begins again after a crash or “caution”). I did and it was hit me in a spot I did not know I had.

The sound when 43 850 horsepower cars accelerate from 55 mph to 190 mph in a matter of seconds is not a sound. It is a minor shift in barometric pressure that washes over you like a wave crashing on the beach. It is a sound that moves not past you, but through you. You cannot help but smile when that noise envelops you. My words do not accurately explain it. I pull the earplugs out for every restart. It is that awesome. I don’t think it has affected my hearing too badly. Yet.

So I’d encourage you should you have the opportunity go to a NASCAR race. It will not be the crowd you might encounter at your local opera or your next Chamber of Commerce meeting. I’d also add that NASCAR unabashedly conducts an invocation before each race and is not embarrassed about the content. I like that. They also don’t race on Easter or Mother’s Day. Gotta love the good ole boys. 

For me this weekend, no politics, no infighting. Just racing. Boogity, boogity, boogity Indeed.

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