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Monday, February 12, 2007

Part 1a

A proud young lady sits with her manbearpig at the Sharpie 500 in Bristol, TN

Three of the four writers here are pro-NASCAR. All of us, as recently as a few years ago, hated NASCAR more than anything. The fourth writer, Dr Blackstones, continues his hating and is offended if you are sitting with him at a bar and glance at a tv with NASCAR on. I personally hated NASCAR more than even Moe Vaughn, my least favorite baseball player ever. God I fucking hated watching that big bitch hit. He would stand right on top of the plate, covered in that pussy-ass arm pad shit, and act all hard when someone drilled him with a fastball. Hey Moe, it hit your big fat arm because you were standing in the strike zone! God I wanted someone to drill him in the head with a 100 mph fast ball. Anyway, with the Daytona 500 coming up on Sunday, some of us will be writing about how NASCAR became a part of our lives. Through this sharing, we all might just learn a little something about NASCAR and more importantly, ourselves. I will be writing two or three pieces on how I came to not hate cars that turn left over and over and over again at high speeds.

I grew up in unquestionably one of the nicest neighborhoods in a small Midwestern town. Five houses were situated around our cul de sac. The house sits on one-half acre about 100 feet above water level at the top of a steep bank leading to the river. At the bottom of the concrete path leading to the river there is a private dock attached to a sea wall, holding a pontoon boat and a small John boat. About fifteen feet to the right of the dock, the sea wall leads to a large wooden door with fencing to the right side of the door going up the bank, marking the property line. On the other side of the door is a creek which varies in width and depth, but unless there had been a massive amount of water from rain or snow flooding the creek, it was so small that canoing was not possible. On each side of the creek is about twenty-five feet of flat ground at the bottom of very steep banking leading up to homes in other nice neighborhoods in town. All of this land is wooded, with a mix of tall maples and oaks at the canopy, alongside saplings, and poison ivy pretty much everywhere.

This was an awesome place for a young male to grow up. In the summer I could go fishing on the dock, hike alongside or in the creek (which is nowhere as clean as the rocky mountain streams in Coors commercials) causing horrendous outbreaks of herpes poison ivy, or take one of the boats out once I was authorized to do so. There were no other kids in my neighborhood my age until 4th grade, when a kid named Chad and his mom moved next door. Chad also went to the private school that I had just switched to from the public schools. I was glad that there was someone to play with but learned quickly at school that Chad was not all that cool. He was made fun of by almost everyone for effeminate mannerisms. The kid had a fucking perm in forth or fifth grade. A FUCKING PERM. He was ripped constantly for this for the six or so weeks that he had it, and I was one of them.

Chad was kind of a little bitch a lot of the time, but he did have some redeeming qualities. He was not quite as good at sports as I was, but was willing to do things like play me at basketball just about any time I wanted. My brother, Chad, and I were all into radio controlled cars as well from about fourth grade until junior or senior year of high school, when my interest really shifted from things like building radio controlled cars and model airplanes to pussy, cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana. We really had fun with our RC cars though. One summer I built a dirt track in the small garden with jumps and banked turns for our rc dune buggies. Chad and I had RC-10's and my brother had a Frog. I recall at least one of us buying lexan plastic NASCAR style body to attach to the dune buggy chassis. You could buy special paint and really make the plastic body a thing of beauty if you wanted to.

With my dad working in the automotive industry, I had been to the Detroit Grand Prix several times--both when it was f1 and CART, and every summer we would go to a track in Waterford, MI to watch a Vintage racing series event. My dad had met several NASCAR drivers through work, but he never was much of a follower of the race series. I am under 30, and even when I was a little kid NASCAR was nothing like it is today. My dad probably didn't follow NASCAR because he is from Massachusetts and it really didn't have that much of a following above the Mason-Dixon line. NASCAR was quite popular in my home town, but mostly because of the incredibly high percentage of residents that were of the "white trash" persuasion.

While Chad's mom did very well for herself, she had white trash roots and she understandably didn't magically become a member of the small social upper class when she started making upper class money. While Chad, my brother, and I would be racing our RC cars in the street or the dirt, playing basketball, or doing something else like looking through his dad's Playboys with delight on a Sunday Summer afternoon, his mom would be sitting in the garage on a lawn chair next to her blue 1984 Corvette. A radio would be turned on and she would be there all by herself, smoking cigarettes, drinking Miller Lite, and listening to the NASCAR race. Races were not on Fox or NBC. They weren't even on TNT, for one because TNT didn't exist. Back in the 80's, if you wanted to watch a race, you were watching it on TNN, The Nashville Network. I think TNN is maybe now Spike tv. Maybe not. But NASCAR, appropriately, could only be found on the cable network (and there were only about 30 channels in those days, kids) catering to hillbillies that could somehow afford cable. When we would take a break and drink a Coke inside, we would often watch portions of the race on TNN. I would then imagine that my RC car was the Dale Earnhardt Goodwrench car, the red Bill Elliott Coors car, or the Rusty Wallace Kodiak car.

This mild interest in NASCAR died along with my obsession with RC Cars, as I said, in high school. There would be occasional flare-ups, however. Sometimes in high school my friends and I with vehicles would smoke a bunch of pot with the windows up, maybe after drinking some alcohol, and race around a block in a nice residential neighborhood over and over*. I may have some facts slightly off with this, but that's the kind of shit we would do (By some miracle I never got a DUI). This was known as the Daytona 500.

And so we find ourselves again at the end of the shortest off-season of any sport--a sport that holds its biggest race in the season's first event. A sport that whores every square inch of its "athletes" out to sponsor advertising. A sport where, if you're not first, you're last.

Stay tuned for how I went from not paying any attention to NASCAR to hating it with Dr Blackstone-like intensity.

*Note: if you think that moving to the suburbs will keep your kid safe, think again.

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