Sunday, April 6, 2008

Texas Motor Speedway, Samsung 500, My First Race

"But did thee feel the earth move?" - Ernest Hemingway, For Whom The Bell Tolls

This weekend, I went to my first NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway. The Samsung 500.
The earth moved.
Someone named Carl Edwards won the race.

I've been around the world seven times, and to one black Pentecostal funeral.
But I've never seen anything like this.
It's a rare group of a quarter million people that I can step into and feel overdressed.
I've felt the earth move, my ears are still ringing, I've smelled the fuel burning and the tires smoking.
I didn't think it would be possible to get this many rednecks to stand in a circle without burning a cross in the center.
This thing should be the #1 Google search result for Bread And Circuses. (You either get that joke, or you don't.)

In your job, doing whatever you do, you probably work with ideas, people, or things.
Here's a stereotype that I think holds up pretty well:

In their free time, "idea" people probably like to go to plays or lectures, or they just stay home and read. They can experience the ideas of some of the brightest people in the world that way.

If you have a "people" job, and are a people person, you probably like to go to parties. The more people there, the better.

People who work with "things", changing the shape of things, making things operate properly, or moving things from place to place, those people go to NASCAR races. They go by the hundreds of thousands. So if you've ever wondered what the guy who changes your oil does to entertain himself, look no further.

At a NASCAR race, you get to see some of the most efficient machines in the world operated by the best machine operators in the world. It's exhilarating and terrifying.

And Oh my lord in heaven, the parties friend Steve and I bounced back and forth between campsites all Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. One group of our friends owns a used prison bus. They've stripped the interior and put in couches and bunk beds. There is a DishNetwork satellite hookup on the roof, connected to an internal projector. TV and/or movies and be shown on a pulldown screen in the middle of the bus. Unbelieveable.

Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, Jim Beam, beer, beer, some more beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, and when that gets low, go to the store and get some more beer, beer, beer.

We had race tickets through our friends at Roadway, and hung out with them quite a bit. Thank you Steve Johnston. For the tickets, and for the beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, Jim Beam, beer, beer, beer and beer.

I've seen grills that could cook everything in The Fort Worth Zoo. In the last two days, I think I've eaten the flesh of more than 40 different animals and not a single vegetable. But I've had plenty of beer.

There were campers as far as you could see, ranging from quarter-million dollar tour buses to popup campers mounted on the beds of pickups. Everyone was pleasant, more or less.

Some of the camping groups bring in their own bands. Loud live bands, all powered by generators, all with A Bigger Carbon Footprint Than Al Gore's HouseTM. There's an impromptu Mardi Gras-style parade that circles the largest campsite every night. Guys were lined up ten deep on both sides of the road throwing beads to the ladies in the back of the pickups. One pair of girls had almost topped off the back of a Ford F-150 with donated beads. All I'm going to say about the parade is that the last time I saw anything like that was back on the farm in Mississippi. And there were baby piglets firmly attached. I'm not criticizing, I'm just sayin'....

Steve and I slept in our trucks. Comfortable enough, with great weather.

Other than the earth moving, the biggest surprise for me about the race was how big a factor luck plays in accidents, debris on the track, and other delays. If there is a huge gap between your car and the person immediately ahead of you at the time of an accident, the gap is eliminated when everyone has to line up in order behind the pace car.

During the pre-race wagering I picked a driver named Casey Mears, who drove the Cheez-It/Carquest Chevrolet. Mostly because I liked the idea of a car sponsored by "Cheese" anything, and partly because I'm fiercely partial to Cheez-Its over Cheese Nips. Mears had to start in 22nd place and finished 22nd, which is more than all the Dale Earnhardt, Jr., fans can say about their guy.

I had a great time. If you've never been, you owe it to yourself to check it out at least once. I think I'm a convert.


Anonymous said...

I heard through the red neck grapevine that the Sepulchre was passed out before noon, snoozing on Steve's shoulder....Lots of beer, huh??

Anonymous said...

Now I know why you weren't in church Sunday morning. And you a Baptist!!!!!

subadei said...

Lol! One of these years I'll make my way to Loudon and take in this bit of American culture.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Dear Cowardly Anonymous Commenter #1,

You are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. I was very busy all morning, reading my beloved Star-Telegram and converting Bud Lite into another commodity. I was wide awake until about 3:30, when I took a brief nap. And I wasn't snoozing on Steve's shoulder. He was to my left. I was snoozing on the shoulder of the Louisiana woman to my right. Get your facts straight. And please don't refer to Steve as "the redneck grapevine". He's an urban hick who lives nowhere near Grapevine.

Dear Cowardly Anonymous Commenter #2,
Of course I'm a Baptist. I bet half the people there were Baptists. That's why we like this kind of Total Immersion Experience.

You have GOT to drop all other recreation one weekend and check this thing out. The Yankee/Vermont version might not be as colorful, but I bet it comes close.
If the U.N. built a NASCAR track in the Gaza strip, I guarantee that all hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians would cease within 10 years.

Samsung Toner Cartridges said...

First off.. I want to congratulate the person who owns this car! It is really quite the beauty.. I myself would love to drive this car everyday since it is a car I had back in the day. It's vicious, it sounds like a monster, and most of all.. It's a masterpiece that can never be forgotten! But you see, as I got older it's funny how my choice of muscle car transitioned to the more elegant/luxurious modern day vehicle. I mean, I guess as we get older of course more things begin to make sense, like safety in a car, better sound quality, and an overall better rating for a vehicle! Well, enjoy and don't forget to Buckle-Up!

Anonymous said...

OMG is just hilarious! Writing for a major news site on this race, knowing absolutely nothing about car racing, I stumbled across your blog and just have had such a good laugh. Love the redneck part especially! Thanks for if anything bringing a smile to my face!