Man, I can't stand those new NASCAR fans. They're ruining the sport, I tell ya, driving it into the ground with all their demands. Like myself, for instance, introduced in September 2007 with the Mets cruising to a division title that wasn't meant to be. It was the Sharp AQUOS 500, to be precise, the Blue Deuce on the pole and Jimmie taking the checkered. It was love at first sight; not with Jimmie but a sport where competitors let it all hang out and patience is a virtue. Yeah, patience; time, patience, and a whole lotta adjustments along the way, which leads to my experience at Charlotte Motor Speedway on a recent Saturday night.
Get what I'm driving at? Here's a refresher course, a reminder of what you used to enjoy as told through the eyes of a Disconnected Yankee in King Richard's Court, a dude who drove twenty-hours to Daytona last summer and recently returned from Charlotte, a bigger fan than ever of this dying sport, if it hasn't already perished in its own miserable filth, or so I'm told. I'd be lucky to die such a heart-pounding death, I really would. Not your cup of tea, eh? Not a hop-in-the-car or -minivan or -RV kinda person, don't like tailgating, barbeques, hanging with family and friends? Don't get much out of deer and tire carcasses strewn along a desolate highway, sunrise over the Roanoke River Basin, the agricultural and industrial landscapes of a tired, restless nation? Gotta be in it to win it, and getting there's half the fun, or have you forgotten? Of course you have; the grandstands were half empty, or so I'm constantly reminded.
Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Pour out some liquor, the refrain, but I beg to differ. I stood awestruck seventeen rows above the frontstretch as cars hurtled nearly 200 mph up the twenty-four degree banking mere inches from the wall. I didn't expect much of a race; Charlotte Motor Speedway is a cookie cutter, or so I'd been cautioned. Yeah right, a cookie cutter like the cookies I was eating during the race were baked by Keebler elves. The layout of the track was superb; it felt like I was sitting in a racing groove, the thrust of the engines causing my hairs to stand on end, the smell of burnt rubber intoxicating, the half-moon and constellations, breathtaking.
I remember ... I remember, don't worry ... Sorry, I don't mean to get Phil Collins on y'all, but I'm a dude who remembers the South as a source of firebrands, not folks questioning who's skirting the rules. I was drawn to NASCAR by a film about Junior Johnson, not folly about how penalties against Carl Long are a sign of the apocalypse. I came for a bonfire, not a pyre. I came to party, not politic.
I came, I saw, I conquered Charlotte Motor ,and now I'm back in New York City wondering how the self-proclaimed old guard can turn their backs on this sport. You'll watch your favorite quarterback get arraigned but not Jimmie Johnson get crowned? I don't get it, but then again, I'm a Disconnected Yankee in King Richard's Court with a bone to pick. Boogity.