Life Ain’t What It Used to Be, but It Still Ain’t Bad

With Sunny Ledfurd and Kyle Petty at a fundraiser for Victory Junction Gang Camp at Puckett’s in Charlotte.

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, November 18, 2019, 12:02 p.m.

Monte Dutton

The end of the NASCAR season makes seven since my wings got clipped, and I don’t miss the flying a bit.

I miss going places but not by air. My friends assure me it’s only gotten worse every year since I left, just as it did every year while I was following the annual gypsy troupe.

On Facebook, I’ve been participating in this Motorsports Challenge thing where I was asked to post photos of motorsports memories for 10 days. I didn’t strictly follow the rules. I was too busy some days, and just this morning, I discovered I claimed Day 7 twice, so I’m really done, but I’ve got one more selected, so tomorrow there will be a bonus photo.

Teresa Earnhardt stops by to ask me, Jim Pedley and David Poole how the food is at DEI stop on the Media Tour.

It was pretty hard because most of the photos I took in 20 years of NASCAR coverage were by me, not of me. I’ve never been much on selfies, or taking photos with my phone, for that matter. Part of my job is taking photos, so I prefer to use a camera that makes it easier to frame the photo and to look through the lens, not at a video screen. I can do it. I just don’t like to. The few photos I have are ones that were sent me by friends.

Had my job not been abruptly eliminated, I’d probably be out there still, but near the end, I grew more and more frustrated because it grew harder and harder to write about the sport in a way that was different than others. It became journalism by media conference for all but a few. Friends will recall that I likened it to entering the soil and water conservation essay contest in the seventh grade. Everyone had the same information, and it was a matter of who could write it the best. NASCAR was more interesting than soil and water conservation, but I wasn’t in the seventh grade anymore.

As luck would have it, the last time I chatted with Tony Stewart, someone — Jerry Jordan, I think — took a picture of it.

When I first joined the troupe, in 1993, it was great fun, at and away from the track. Newspapers were important. I loved working for the Gaston Gazette, and the Gaston Gazette loved me, mainly because it syndicated my stories and made money from them. I could cover racing the way I saw fit.

Things change. I found out the Gazette didn’t love me anymore on January 4, 2013, when it informed me my last day was January 4, 2013, and I haven’t stopped my vehicle in Gaston County in all the years since.

But I’m not bitter. Oh, no. Not me.

Atlanta media center

Free enterprise means that value is determined by the market, and the market for me is here in my hometown, working for the county website, GoLaurens.com, with an assist from GoClinton.com. I like it. I enjoy taking photos of little kids running around at Squealin’ on the Square. I enjoy talking to an 81-year-old woman who is studying for her GED. I like high school athletes and coaches. I expect to attend every Furman home football game for the first time in more than 30 years, and one other, which wasn’t so hot.

With James Hylton at Rockingham for the Polar Bear 150.

Digging up those few photos I have of me with others in NASCAR brought back memories of what I now watch only from a distance. It’s probably better up close, but those up close don’t see what it’s like from a distance, either. Most people here know I used to be somebody, and, by and large, they seem to love telling me how much they used to love NASCAR and how much they can’t stand it now. Most of the kids hardly know what it is anymore. There are a few who figure if I was any good, I wouldn’t be where I am now, but I still do what Paul Harvey told me to do in an autograph when I was about 12.

Aim high, Monte.

I still aim high. I still do it my way. I still don’t take my subjects or myself too seriously. I still try to be funny. I still try to have fun. I still chip away at fiction and songwriting, but I don’t have as much time to do it. My life is every bit as busy as it ever was, though not as profitable. As Jerry Jeff Walker wrote, “Gettin’ by on gettin’ by’s my stock in trade.”

The photos are like carbon-14 dating. I can measure my age by the lightening of my hair.

I still like racing. It’s still in my blood. All that smoke just isn’t literally in my blood. And my ears rarely ring.

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

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My Week in Sports, Etc.

Pixabay

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, October 24, 2019, 8:53 a.m.

Monte Dutton

Clemson football fans feel unduly pressured because, somehow, in spite of winning every game to date by an average of 28 points, the Tigers have recently dropped from No. 1 to 4 in the Football Bowl Subdivision rankings.

A narrow victory at North Carolina – the Tar Heels had a chance to win but failed on a late two-point conversion – set off the mild decline. The other three teams ranked in the top four – four is a crucial number in FBS since it is the number of playoff slots – have all won every game convincingly.

Clemson hasn’t lost and can’t afford to do so. Alabama, LSU and Ohio State are ahead of the Tigers, and all are undefeated, and so is Oklahoma, which looms fifth and “only” won by seven against Texas. The Crimson Tide and Tigers, LSU variety, must play each other.

The pressure to win – and not just win, but win big – is oppressive.

If the Tigers continue to win, they’ll be fine, but the fans bristle at the notion that the reigning national champions have fallen in the rankings without losing.

I sympathize. Running up the score is rewarded.

On the other hand, I’m confident Clemson fans would make the same contentions made on behalf of the other three teams were the roles reversed.

That’s the way fans are. It’s absolutely necessary to be fueled by both love and hate. The contentiousness is inherent in sports. Everyone must have some justification for complaint.

Just keep on winning, Tigers, and everything will be fine.

Pixabay

Upsets are much likelier in the National Football League.

For instance, how in the hell did the Dallas Cowboys lose to the New York Jets a while back?

It was an anomaly. If Ohio State, which defeated Northwestern, 52-3, last week, had lost to the Wildcats, it would have been roughly equivalent to the Jets beating the Cowboys.

In the pros, it happens every week, even though they’s supposed to be … pros.

(NASCAR Media)

I have no idea who is going to win the NASCAR Monster Cup championship. Denny Hamlin is being trumpeted as the likely champion again, and it’s because he happens to have won the most recent race in Kansas.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be. The format is designed for excitement at the expense of fairness.

In the final race, in Homestead, Fla., four drivers will have an equal chance at the championship. One might be a driver with far less on his result sheet than others.

Who’s most likely to pull off the far-fetched upset? Why, Kyle Larson, of course.

At least right now.

In a way, it’s all the same, whether it’s the Clemson Tigers, the New England Patriots or Denny Hamlin.

Just win, baby.

Pixabay

Finally, there’s the World Series, where the Washington Nationals lead the favored Houston Astros, 2-0, in the best-of-seven.

I’ve half-watched the two games, partly because inevitably I have work to do and partly because the Boston Red Sox did not make the postseason this year. I’m as interested in what the Red Sox do in the offseason as which team actually succeeds them as world champions.

I have no particular rooting interest. I’ve found myself tilting toward the Nats because, all else being equal, I usually find my sentiments drifting in the direction of the underdogs.

Monte Dutton photo

Wednesday was a busy day. Complications at home left me feeling behind all day with advance stories of local football games and editing releases and stories provided us at GoLaurens/GoClinton.

The assignments themselves are less enjoyable than the conversations they provide.

Yesterday, after taking photos, I found myself chatting with three Clinton High football players as the girls’ tennis team steamrolled Indian Land – I wonder if changing it to Indigenous Land has been contemplated – in the first round of the playoffs.

Today I’ve got a Touchdown Club meeting, an interview with a young drag racer, and a trivia contest at the county museum about which to monitor, photograph, and write. My drag race is going to be getting the obituaries and arrest report done in the gap between assignments. It might not be a bad idea to take my laptop with me to the TD Club and work on the story and the aforementioned daily work in a coffee shop on the Laurens square.

This week’s YouTube video contains songs performed 10 years ago by me and Kyle Petty.

Those were the days.

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

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Damn the Climate Change … in Sports

Pixabay

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, October 15, 2019, 2:17 p.m.

Monte Dutton

I’ve been remiss of late.

Part of it is that I’ve been writing enough about sports elsewhere that it leaves me without much more to say. The weekly NASCAR column at Competition Plus (here’s the latest) fulfills my need, not to mention a visit each Friday night on a statewide sports talk show.

It’s hard to find the time, too, and I can prove it. A motorcyclist got wounded last night in an apparent road-rage incident. I’ve got to write about it.

I’m remiss again.

Sometimes I feel I too am in the twilight.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 1:13 p.m.

It must irk the fans of the Atlanta Braves that the Washington Nationals are going to the World Series.

Being a fan of the Boston Red Sox, it irks me that the New York Yankees might be playing them. It’s hard for me to say, “In Houston, I Trust,” but I’d wear an IHIT cap if there was one.

Red Sox fans have not been unduly irked since 2003. Where once Boston took years from my life, four world championships might have given a few back. This year was tough, but it happens. Winning it all is hard.

Boston fans have never been intent on world domination. We just wanted one, and we’ve got four. The Yankees are the ones who want to run everybody else out of business.

Oh, God, please forgive me. I sound a little like Trump.

Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick duel at MIS. (Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

I love baseball unconditionally, but I guess I’m just old enough to wish it hadn’t gotten so selfish. Teams routinely stack all the fielders where the opposition batter is likely to hit the ball, and, in most instances, he’ll eschew a free hit to the opposite field so he can just take another rip and make his agent happy. It’s more complicated than that, but it seems to me that what passes for accepted practice is geared to the current culture of the game.

As strange as this may seem, I think much the same about another sport I love, stock car racing.

MLB and NASCAR reek of climate change. The rest just smell.

Oh, wait. The whole world smells.

Or, perhaps, I am just getting older.

I still believe in love, though. It just seems more and more unrequited.

I talk a lot about various things – NASCAR, local sports, small-town life – in my latest YouTube video.

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

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The Granddaddy of Them All

Monte Dutton photo

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 12:45 p.m.

Monte Dutton

Pack Darlington Raceway, and the crowd is still only about 60,000, but for many reasons unique to yours truly, the Southern 500 is NASCAR’s biggest race.

It’s in my home state. It was NASCAR’s first race on a track larger than a mile and first on a track that was fully paved. That was in 1950. The “road” part of Daytona Beach’s Beach/Road Course was paved.

More important personally is that it was the first major race to which my father took me. I had gone to a 1965 race at Bristol with some family friends, but five years later, when I was 12, I watched Buddy Baker drive Cotton Owens’ burnt-orange Dodge Charger Daytona to glory. Much later in life, I got to know both Buddy and Cotton, gone now but two of my favorite people in racing or anywhere else.

Buddy Baker (Photo by ISC Archives via Getty Images)

I remember Cale Yarborough’s Mercury skittering along the top of the guardrail at the inside of the track in front of me. I remember taking a Kodak Instamatic picture of Wendell Scott’s robin’s egg blue Ford flashing by that was remarkably clear because I was doing something known as “panning” the car. I thought a “pan” was for frying eggs back then.

I wish I knew where that photo is today. Maybe it’s in a shoe box at my mother’s house. Maybe it’s not. Probably it’s gone forever, but I remember it.

I also remember sitting on the back straight, mostly near kids in Cub Scout uniforms, and after the leaders flashed by, leaning forward and craning my neck to see who was ahead when they dove into turn three, which is now turn one. I remember that long Daytona of Baker, sliding through turn two like an aircraft carrier running rapids. Buddy drove a race car, but he could wrestle.

The slowpokes had to pit on the back straight, and I watched a driver named Johnny Halford get out of his car and change his own tires. It was a pretty purple No. 57 Charger (non-Daytona), but it wasn’t any faster on the track than in the pits.

At the time, I was introduced to the notion that a car could have a wing that would hold it down. When I went back home, I pulled out several World Book encyclopedias to research the matter.

For the next few years, Daddy took me to the Rebel 400 in the spring, but I had to practice football on Labor Day. All the practices were hard, but that was annually the hardest. My mind was in Darlington.

The Silver Fox, David Pearson, circa 1977. (Thomas Pope photo)

My next Southern 500 was in 1976, when I was already enrolled at Furman University. Jimmy Carter, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke to the crowd, as did the Republican vice-presidential nominee, Bob Dole. It was a time long ago, when race fans would still cheer a Democrat, particularly one from Georgia.

David Pearson won. He won every Darlington race I attended in those days. I drove all the way from Greenville to Darlington by myself, and it was the first time I watched a race at Darlington from the covered front-straight grandstands, where, man, was it loud.

Ray Melton was the public-address announcer. He was as unforgettable as the racers, describing the action in a Virginia drawl that surely only fellow Southerners could decipher.

Ray Melton

Lez and gennuhmen, wellum to the Suh Five Hunnud, the Granddaddy of ’Em All, heah at Dahlinton Resweh, the Track Too Tough to Tehm …

The cars ran “hah, wahd ‘n’ hansum” through the turns, and Melton devoted an inordinate amount of time to telling kids to get away from the fence at the bottom of the grandstands because it was “danguhs” down there.

Melton died in 1986, but I should thank him for teaching me how to later make out what Ward Burton had to say.

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

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Downhill in a Hurry

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, August 3, 2019, 1:21 p.m.

Monte Dutton

High school football players are officially sweating again. During the coming week, they’ll start bumping into each other on purpose. I went out Friday to snap some photos. Few atmospheres are more hopeful than the month before a season starts.

It’s baseball spring training, only much, much hotter. It takes heat to burnish steel.

5:11 p.m.

Speaking of baseball, the leaves are turning. Thank goodness I had a NASCAR Xfinity race to occupy my time while the Yankees were clobbering the Red Sox.

Pixabay

Even if Boston falls from playoff contention, I’ll keep watching lots of the games. I love baseball. This team isn’t as good as the one that won the World Series last year, but it’s still exciting to watch.

This is the difference. It didn’t matter how far last year’s team fell behind, it might win. The same is true this year. But if the Sox are way ahead, they also might lose the game this year.

The starting pitching has been a complete disappointment. As a result, the bullpen is worn out. Problems lead to musical chairs.

Sports is made up of both tangibles and intangibles.

The biggest problem with the Red Sox is they used up all the magic last year.

Pixabay

Sunday, August 4, 2019, 9:05 a.m.

Sometimes I hate to awaken. I almost always fall asleep with the TV on.

Dayton? What’s all this about Dayton? What happened to El Paso?

Next thought.

Presbyterian College just hired a new athletics director from the University of Texas at El Paso. I wonder if he has already left? I wonder how he feels.

These were half-asleep, groggy thoughts. I tried to go back to sleep, but my mind was alive with song lyrics, and I gave up and got up. No good could come from a dream.

If people can’t safely go to a garlic or a country-music festival, or back-to-school shopping, where can they go? They may just hole up with their Facebook pages and take their psychic shots at the outside world. I think I’ll just stay here and drink.

What’s that Jerry Jeff Walker song about staying home?

A few of the lines:

A time for young fellas to carry umbrellas

And considering the climate, you really might find it
The right time to stay at home …

It’s dangerous out on the freeway, its dangerous out in the bars
Everybody’s mad at somebody, it’s dangerous to drink and drive cars

Pixabay

It certainly got my mind off the Boston Red Sox.

I fear we’ve created a world in which the back of that mind is always a little wary, a little fearful. Yet I mustn’t be cowed by uncertainty lest it prevent me from living because I am merely alive.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

What’s at the beginning mustn’t come to an end.

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

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The Rookie Who Wasn’t

Alex Bowman races Kyle Larson during the Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, July 1, 2019, 11:52 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

Alex Bowman’s victory on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway was quite the phenomenon as it was quickly portrayed as, gadzooks, the first time a rookie had won a Cup race since 2006, and, for most of NASCAR’s history, it was the rarity it seems to be now.

One problem.

Bowman is not a rookie. He has competed in the Monster Energy Series since 2014 and is in his second full year at Hendrick Motorsports. Earlier this year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. even referred to Bowman as a rookie in spite of the fact that it was Bowman who succeeded Earnhardt in the No. 88 he drove to victory on Sunday in rather stirring fashion.

To paraphrase the late Rodney Dangerfield, Bowman gets no respect, no respect at all.

I think I heard it on TV Sunday, and since lots of folks apparently hold the absurd view that TV never messes up in such ways, it probably spread like religious dogma from there. For half the race, I was strumming my guitar and singing songs, so I damn near repeated the mistake myself. It was this morning before I was pondering life while watching the progress of an omelet in the griddle, and thought, Hey, wait a minute …

Rookies had a golden age, though, and it coincided with NASCAR’s rapid growth in popularity. Beginning with Tony Stewart’s three victories in 1999, rookie victories became suddenly common. Rookies won at least one race for five straight years, eight of the next nine and nine of the next 11.

The list of relatively recent rookie victories consists of Stewart in ’99; Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2000; Kevin Harvick in ’01; Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson in ’02; Greg Biffle in ’03; Kyle Busch in ’05; Hamlin in ’06; Juan Pablo Montoya in ’07; Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski in ’09; Trevor Bayne in 2011; and Chris Buescher in 2016.

That’s once in eight years if you’re keeping a scorecard at home.

Bowman leads the pack. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The fruitless years are only three in order but still counting. This year’s hopes lie with Daniel Hemric, Ryan Preece and Matt Tifft. All I know about Tanner Berryhill is that he was supposed to run the season, hasn’t, and otherwise I wouldn’t know him from ex-ballplayer Damon Berryhill or the blueberry hill where Fats Domino found his thrill.

All these drivers, even Berryhill, wherever he is, owe a debt of gratitude to Jeff Gordon, who didn’t actually win a point race when he debuted in ’93 but quickly developed into the sport’s dominant figure with three championships in the next five years and four in the next nine. Before Gordon, young drivers worked their way up through the ranks and had to serve apprenticeships in subpar equipment. Gordon’s success created what was then the phenomenon of young drivers moving right into top-flight equipment. Many failed these tests, but the ones who prospered are the ones now remembered.

As I once heard the Rev. Jesse Jackson say, the doors of opportunity have been locked with impunity.

Three teams – Gibbs, Penske and Hendrick – have won all the races. At the moment, NASCAR’s top series offers precious little opportunity for upward mobility.

 

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

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Remember the Carousel! Raise the Titanic!

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, June 22, 2019, 1:16 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

None of the NASCAR drivers racing on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway (formerly Sears Point and Infineon) have ever raced on the current circuit.

I, however, wrote about four races there before Bruton Smith acquired the track and the Carousel was excluded, largely in order to make the track easier for the stock car racers. Now the Carousel is back, and I couldn’t be happier.

Back in those days, I would watch the start in the media center, then, thanks to the late John Cardinale, who handled public relations for the track, I was able to commandeer a golf cart and wander around for an hour or so. I’d spend that hour of the race, with a notepad and a scanner, while I drove up to near the top of the hill overlooking the course, where about three quarters of the track, including the Carousel, could be seen. At the peak of the hill stood a building where the spotters congregated on the roof.

With about an hour to go, I’d return to the media center, catch up on the facts and figures, and write.

(NASCAR Media)

I hated it when the course was changed. More than 20 years later, it’s almost a sure bet that the explanations one hears on TV will be sanitized for viewers’ protection.

When Speedway Motorsports acquired the track, Smith wanted to build an oval, but the lovely natural terrain was something local citizens didn’t want despoiled. If Smith had wanted to build a golf course, they probably would have showed up wielding shovels, but as the Rolling Stones sang, “You can’t always get what you want,” so Smith resolved to make his track as much like an oval as he could, and I think he wanted to make it easier so that it didn’t take a road-racing whiz to win there.

 

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

It was at that point that I began to enjoy the area more than the race.

Predictably, I also wish they’d use “the Boot” at Watkins Glen, but I don’t think NASCAR has run that part of the upstate New York course since the 1950s.

The winner of Sunday’s race may well be the driver who is most adaptable to the vagaries of the unfamiliar Carousel, which winds its way down a considerable incline and back up.

I can’t wait to see. On TV.

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

Posted in NASCAR | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Remember the Carousel! Raise the Titanic!

I’ll Keep Verbing My Way Back to You, Babe …

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Pixabay)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, June 17, 2019, 9:53 a.m.

The weekend seemed vacant. The Monster Energy Series was idle, though NASCAR ran a pair of minor-league races in Iowa, one of which had its outcome overturned by the apparent winning truck being disqualified after post-race inspection.

And just when I was about to buy a celebratory watermelon.

The NBA is over. The NHL is over. The U.S. Open is over. Sunday was Father’s Day, and I am not a father. How things have changed. Once running a race on Mother’s Day weekend was taboo. Now it’s a prime date. Meanwhile, Father’s Day was once a prime date, and now it’s an open one.

They never ask me about the weighty matters.

It was reasonably busy, though, here in the typing cave. No, wait. Typing is an anachronism like so much else. It’s the keyboarding cave. I can touch-keyboard. A colleague and I used to call this “verbing,” which is the practice of turning all words into verbs. That’s why I’m keyboarding and laptopping. That way I can blog. Others might enjoy antiquing. Or golfing. Me? I prefer laptopping. I aspire to impact something.

Forget Trump. The real challenge is to stop “verbing,” which strikes at the very heart of truth, justice and the American way. Verbing – perpetrated by wild, maniacal “verbers” overrunning the virtual countryside – is the cause. Trump is merely the effect.

Don’t call the Funny Farm. Mostly, I’m kidding.

A Baltimore Oriole. (PIxabay)

The Red Sox swept, but it was only Baltimore. Back in Henry Fonda’s day, Baltimore was a sneaky town (On Golden Pond for the benefit of the whippersnappers). The Orioles are about as sneaky as the Keystone Kops and occasionally as amusing. I like the Orioles, just not against the Red Sox. Now that the series is over, I hope they beat the Yankees but wouldn’t bet on it.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans was an around-the-clock-twice race of British accents talking incessantly at the same time. I could make neither hide nor hair of it. Toyotas won the overall, and the Clemson Tigers Ford GT, co-driven by Dabo Swinney, Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence, won one of the classes. I think it was called the BCS.

Pixabay

How did I spend Father’s Day? I liked and occasionally retweeted or shared photographs of fathers I know. I even made a few pithy comments. My laptop has within its catacombs no photos of my father, due in no small part to his death in 1993. I’m not a big photo scanner.

To my knowledge, there is no Uncle’s Day, although there is probably a National Chihuahua Week. I have no problem with that. The world doesn’t need a day for yapping uncles to be cavorting about.

Not when there’s laptopping to do.

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

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Live from the Auto Racing Cave

Martin Truex Jr., en route to victory at Charlotte. (NASCAR Media)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, May 27, 2019, 3:30 p.m.

Monte Dutton

Today I haven’t been the most energetic sort. It’s hotter than the 31st of August, and it’s only the 27th of May. If I was driving around right now, I don’t think I’d want to crack the window. It’s Memorial Day, and I’m kind of happy I don’t even have to go get the mail.

On Facebook Live last night, I sang the old Hank Snow tune, “I’ve Been Everywhere,” which led one visitor to suggest I might give “The Auctioneer” a try. He’s right.

Leroy Van Dyke

My late father, Jimmy Dutton (1937-93) was an auctioneer. He went to an auctioneering school, as Leroy Van Dyke, who co-wrote and most notably performed “The Auctioneer,” did. Along with Buddy Black, Van Dyke wrote it about his cousin, Ray Sims, an auctioneer of renown, but Van Dyke knew what he was doing. It’s an authentic song. He rolls his tongue in the middle of his delivery.

Jimmy Dutton did that. If I could’ve talked faster, I might have been an auctioneer. I can talk faster now. After all, I managed to get through “I’ve Been Everywhere” last night.

I do the Facebook show, almost always on Sunday night at 8 EDT, so that I can: (1.) sing favorite songs, (2.) sing songs I wrote, (3.) play in front of people virtually since I seldom do it otherwise anymore, (4.) talk about NASCAR and other sports, and (5.) promote myself and my books.

So it’s not like I do it for no reason. Usually 250-350 people watch, about half live and half on replay. The crowd doesn’t matter that much, though I appreciate it. I mainly do it because I like it.

The above explains why I’ve been practicing “The Auctioneer” while the Yankees are unfortunately polishing off the Padres and I’m waiting for the Red Sox to host the Indians at 4.

Last night was the first time I’ve done the Facebook show while a NASCAR race was going on. The Coca-Cola 600 started at 6:18 and didn’t end until after 11, so doing the show from 8 to 9 left plenty to see before and after. I had the game on with the sound muted and closed-captioning activated, so I reported on what was happening from time to time. Most of the show took place during the second of four segments. Brad Keselowski was then leading most of the time, and I happened to be looking at the screen when Ryan Preece wrecked.

Monte Carlo (PIxabay)

The principal reason I am not at my creative best today is because auto racing on TV wore me out. How it’s tiring to sit in an easy chair tweeting is beyond me – I have the same quandary about driving – but I guess it’s the mind that tires. On Sunday, I watched the Grand Prix of Monaco in the morning, the Indianapolis 500 in the afternoon, and the Coca-Cola 600 at night. I even had time to see the last three innings of the Red Sox victory in Houston and the obligatory “edit the obits” and “see who got arrested” that is part of my daily duties at GoLaurens/GoClinton.

As is oft-used cliché in these parts, the school year is ’bout played out. Clinton High has a spring game on Thursday, and it’s still likely to be scorching. Nowadays, if it’s too hot, the High School League won’t let them play. The sun will be getting low by game time, so maybe the ballplayers and I will manage to survive, and I won’t get bowled over on the sideline as I did two years ago.

I told the story last night of Joe McGee, a boyhood hero of mine, and that was before Joe went off to become the only man I knew personally to die in Vietnam. I’ve set a little time aside to memorialize today, and I hope you will, too.

 

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

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Oh, Be for Real, or, at Least, Do a Little Homework

Wilt Chamberlain (Pixabay)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, May 23, 2019, 11:12 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

No one thinks Spencer Tracy less an actor because many of his movies were in black and white. No one thinks Abraham Lincoln less a president because he faced no nuclear threat in the Civil War.

Somehow, in sports lies the ignorant conceit that all the modern athletes are better than their predecessors.

“Lies” is a double entendre.

People don’t even spell it out, thanks to the enforced brevity of social media. GOAT: Greatest of All Time. In basketball, the title seems to be a two-man race between LeBron James and Michael Jordan.

Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in an NBA game when there were no shots that counted three points. What about Oscar Robertson? Bill Russell? Bob Cousy? Elgin Baylor? Walt Frazier? Jerry West?

I never saw them play.

Pixabay

I never saw Mel Ott, either, but I read a book about him when I was about 12. If a person is evaluating history, then by definition, it behooves him (or her) to consider all of it. Homework is no more distant than a trip to YouTube. Go watch some video of Jimmy Brown or Dick Butkus. I predict you’ll be impressed. This may seem extreme, but it might be constructive to read a book instead of 10,000 tweets.

When Harold Lloyd dangled off a window-washer’s platform, 20 floors above the city streets, in a 1920s silent movie, he was really dangling above the street. No green screens. No virtual reality.

Everyone seems to compare apples to oranges and discredits the oranges because they make juice but not pie.

The players are bigger, faster and quicker now.

Jerry Kramer

Big deal. If Jerry Kramer had been exposed to modern weight-training techniques, he would have been a bigger pulling guard. If Joe DiMaggio had spent his summers playing on travel teams, he would have been an even greater center fielder. If Richard Petty had been supported by 15 engineers, he would have driven a faster, more durable Plymouth.

Look at the numbers.

Richard Petty chats with Junie Donlavey in 1974. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Nary a sport exists – with the possible exception of soccer – in which the rules have not been changed to pump up the excitement. I don’t oppose excitement, but rules changes must be considered. If they’d played 30 years later, Johnny Unitas would have completed many more passes. Hank Aaron would have hit many more homers. Jerry West would have scored many more points. Bobby Hull would have scored many more goals.

Let’s not even enter a discussion of equipment. It’s a wonder they mostly survived. In auto racing, the great ones often didn’t.

It’s all relative. Greatness in one era is no greater in another.

It is a great mystery to me why, sometime during my lifetime, people abandoned history. They pay for it every day.

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

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