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Rated: 18+ · Poetry · Action/Adventure · #1233967
A poem that jumped into the driver's seat...
North American Stock Car Auto Racing,
As the anagram goes,
Sounds so dry and boring.
Cars, 43 in number, circle a track.
Asphalt, hot reflecting sun, burning tires,
Roaring engines energize stands full of people.

Yawns. Boring to others. "Red Necks" they call the drivers and fans.

Now into the pits screams that Budweiser car.
A third generation driver and rock and roll kid
Sits at the wheel ready to burn more rubber.
Car is jacked, tires changed, fuel added,
Adrenaline fueled, his pit crew adjust and fix minor damage.
Right twist the jack handle. 13 seconds later the red rocket is away.

My first live NASCAR race was in Texas, while I was attending training in Wichita Falls. I bought weekend tickets for $325 from scalpers, because I wanted to watch live what always kept me glued to the TV on Saturdays and Sundays.

Normally a three day trip requires packing and hotel plans.
A clean pair of underwear, socks, three T-Shirts and khaki shorts
Stuffed into a Walmart bag was my luggage. $412 spending cash
Carried in my taped up "Terry Labonte 1984 NASCAR Champion" wallet was my fare.
Arnold, my travel partner had a Chevette and we flipped a coin.
Rear seats sleeping for me! We started the 100 mile trip.

We spent $17 combined at Whataburger, adding the wrapped burgers and fries to the beer in our cooler. South we headed, secure in the knowledge we now had everything we needed for a great weekend.

North Parking lot 15C turned out to be two miles from the track.
Another rainstorm added to the pleasure of our walk.
Sodden we trudged across the muddy unpaved expanse
Cold beers in hand and in pockets. We smelled cooking meat;
A number of tailgate parties had sprung up,
Ranging from single burner grills to pigs on spits glistening.

We wandered on to the Texas Motor Speedway track complex, hearing the distant growl and scream of engines on the track.

"No admittance to the truck race or practice without a ticket!"
Arnold said, "but we have tickets for BUSCH and NASCAR."
"Sure you do, but that doesn't let you in tonight."
"Crap." Well, there goes that idea. What now?"

An acre and a half of mud and a mile walk later,
Right back where we started, we cracked open beers.

Rock music blared from a few nearby camp sights as the party continued all night. Beer and cold burgers mixed with a few glimpses of beautiful girls in the nearby campers who may have forgotten the things their momma's taught them about dressing in public made this rainy muddy parking lot seem a little like Woodstock in '69.

North Texas morning sun winked off Chevette hood chrome.
Aching back and morning after beer breath in a dry mouth,
Stretching, I unfolded myself from a front bucket seat.
Can't imagine how Albert ended up in the back, with the cutie from 45C.
Around to the hatch back, trying not to see too much...
Reo Speedwagon shirt and clean socks...I changed into fresh clothing.

The track opened to the public at 9 a.m. In the next two plus hours we watched "Happy Hour," the final practice for Sunday's main event and the opening ceremonies for the Busch Race.

NASCAR'S Busch Racing always seemed a tune up to me.
Amateurs were running fast and furious trying to
Scale the heights to greatness.
Cars scream and bump and fly much faster,
Alive and in front of you,
Roaring madly, instead of on a television set.

I confess, I do not remember the winner of the Saturday race, although an on-line search told me it was one of the Burton brothers by a nose in a rain delayed and crash ridden event.

Naturally the second evening at the glorious Texas race track
Announced itself with arguments, cold burgers and dwindling
Supplies of beverages and shorter tempers.
"Crap, did you eat the rest of the fries?"
"All the ice is melted and we only have three more beers."
"Really? maybe you should drink slower."

I dove into the back seat and covered my head with my worn jean jacket, determined to sleep enough to be able to enjoy the race the following day.

No shame, Sunday morning I peed beside the car.
A shower or brushed teeth since Friday? Forget it.
"Southern 500" Terry Labonte shirt and changed shorts
Compensate for creature comforts and cleanliness.
Arching my back and finger combing my hair I stand,
Ready to watch the drivers race on the track of my dreams.

Albert and I once more walked toward the speedway, with many a friendly word and wave to the people we had lived alongside for the last day and a half. We were like a small commune. The brunch grills were on and TV's and radios were tuned to pre-race shows. American and driver 's flags popped in the breeze and stood against the light rain. Al seemed to be looking at something directly across the path from lot 54C, where the girl from Friday night sat with a burley guy in a Rusty Wallace shirt.

Noon came and went and still the rain blasted down.
Albert and I went back and forth to concessions, beer, and bathroom.
Six times the jet driers circled the track blowing hot air.
Clear skies were promised in 45 minutes,
All drivers called to their cars to await the start.
Roaring winds and rain drops blistered the track again.

We sat in the stands shivering for an hour and a half drenched. Even the areas under the stands where the concessions were housed were wet and the wind blew the rain in. About three hours after the scheduled start time, the rain had finally stopped, and the track was dried enough for opening prayers, and "gentlemen, start your engines."

None too soon, the track finally ready, the cars screamed to life.
A field of racers 43 strong stream to the green flag.
Some who still race, some retired, some you may as well forget.
Cope, Earnhardt Jr, Gordon, Jarrett, and the Labonte brothers are there too.
Around the last corner and to the green flag they come,
Ramming the gas pedal deep and screamed into the first turn.

There were three more rain delays and subsequent track drying before the final forty some odd lap sprint to the finish in the gathering dusk.

Nearly feral, the cars scream wild freed horsepower.
Around the oval track they go beating and banging
Sparking and smoking. Ricky's cooked motor throws smoke and oil.
Caution flag comes out for clean up and another pit stop.
All cars come down for the attention of their teams.
Right over the wall into the mix they jump ready.

Albert was standing on his seat, nervously twisting his hat in his hands and jumping up and down.

Now into the pits screams that Budweiser car.
A third generation driver and rock and roll kid.
Sits at the wheel ready to burn more rubber.
Car is jacked, wheels changed, fuel added.
Adrenalin fueled his pit crew adjust, and fix minor damage.
Right twist the jack handle. 13 seconds later the red rocket is away.

The finish was close, but in the end when the checkered flag had pushed the breeze aside, an older racer motored to victory lane.

Naturally a man from Texas named Terry won the race, and I cheered.
Albert hoped for the Earnhardt kid in the number 8 car,
Still, as the rain started again his smile matched mine.
Car haulers started loading racing machines as we wandered out to parking.
A long slow line of race traffic awaited us on our trip back to the base.
Remembering the weekend I await another NASCAR adventure.

That's my favorite sports event story. I hope you can relate to it. If not maybe you should check your television sports listings, or go to a track near you, and join us, who are proud to bleed and sweat redneck, white and blue!
© Copyright 2007 Lou-Here By His Grace (tattsnteeth2 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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