Racing It As It Comes

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

Clinton, S.C., Sunday, May 26, 8:17 a.m.

It’s not actually Memorial Day. That’s Monday. And, strictly speaking, it will be a day to mourn our war dead, not to cheer on the troops or to honor the veterans. Memorial Day should have a somber edge to it. At the very least, it should give us pause.


I got up earlier than I planned this morning, as a result of a dead battery in my mother’s Pontiac that was probably, in turn, a result of someone at her house, likely a nephew, listening to the CD player and leaving the key on.

That’s just speculation.

In any event, it’s Sunday. I had to give my mother a ride to the Days Inn, where she works mostly on weekends. I tried and failed to go back to sleep. Now I’m pondering breakfast and watching the Grand Prix of Monaco, a cup of coffee having sufficiently fortified me and ended any possibility of sleeping any time soon.

The predicament is also an offshoot of the University of North Carolina’s baseball team, which required 18 innings to defeat N.C. State in the ACC tournament. I stayed up for 17 of them.

I must have thought, OK, one more inning, five different times. Then I gave up right before the Tar Heels won. I don’t know the details.

8:53 a.m.

Monaco must be the world’s most beautiful principality, I think. What’s a principality? I’ll check. “A principality (or princedom) can either be a monarchical, feudatory or a sovereign state, ruled or reigned over by a monarch with the title of prince or by a monarch with another title within the generic use of the word ‘prince.’”

Surviving principalities are Liechtenstein, Monaco and the co-principality of Andorra. Monaco is bordered for 2.7 miles by France and 2.5 miles by the Mediterranean. As Arthur Bach (movie “Arthur”) might say, “It’s not a large place.” The current prince, Albert II, may have said it, too.

All that the Grand Prix of Monaco has in common with I-40 through the Smokies is a tunnel. I-40 has two going one way and one the other.

An incident involving Pastor Maldonado just raised a red flag. I think I saw that in the plot of a movie once. The pastor was collaborating with the Nazis.

In the movie.

9:49 a.m.

Since Memorial Day isn’t really until Monday, it occurs to me that Sunday might be an unofficial memorial day for racers. I remember, as a small child, watching Lorenzo Bandini’s grisly death (May 10, 1967) at Monte Carlo on “ABC’s Wide World of Sports.” On this weekend in 1964, Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald died at Indy, and the fiery crash that led to Fireball Roberts’ death occurred at Charlotte.

It’s a good time for a moment of silence amid the roar. (I can mute the TV.)

10:28 a.m.

Nico Rosberg won the grand prix. He is Keke Rosberg’s son. Formula One apparently has a Finland Gang. Kimi Raikkonen is in there amongst them, too. No Rosberg has ever won at Daytona Beach, but, then again, no Allison has ever won at Monte Carlo.

On to Indy. Television was a wonderful invention. Take a trip and never leave the farm.

11:58 a.m.

I just observed the traditional Sunday Visit with My Mother at the Motel, timing it to fall between Monte Carlo and Indianapolis (OK, so Clinton is a bit off the direct route). I got home in time to hear “Taps” (which I can play on my guitar, by the way, similar to the intro of “Folsom Prison Blues”).

What a contrast between the visions of Memorial Day: “Back Home Again in Indiana,” Purdue marching band and “Taps” vs. Charlotte’s gaudy Invasion of the Tri-Oval.

I’m looking forward to really watching the Indianapolis 500. In the past, I always got to the CMS press box in time to watch Indy on the monitors, but I was often distracted and had work to do.

OK, I may play my guitar a little, which is another wonderful accessory and freedom that comes with not having a job that takes me to the track.

I wonder if I could write car-racing words to fit George Jones’ “The Race Is On”? I could, but I reckon my time would be best served writing something that’s all original.

12:08 p.m.

My boyhood memories of “the newborn hay in all its fragrance” are not quite as warm as they appear to be for Jim Nabors.

Imagine a start in rows of three at Talladega. Shazam.

1:04 p.m.

I was making a snack in the kitchen. I thought I heard the announcer say a car “ran over a toad.” Nah. On pit road. A hose. Since the nervous pigeon in Monte Carlo, I’ve been animal-distracted.

1:16 p.m.

Technology should create more, not less, options. This design of Indy cars creates a rousing show.

1:19 p.m.

During the five years (1988-92) in which I attended the Indy 500, I never saw an empty seat. I mailed in my ticket request for the following year the day after the race.

And I never thought that would change.

1:47 p.m.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the Indy 500 live, but this is one observation I’ve retained ever since: they go so fast, it doesn’t have to be as close to be exciting. One just marvels that something – anything! – can go that fast and still turn left.

Nowadays, by the way, they race pretty close.

2:21 p.m.

Sure, I’d like to see A.J. Allmendinger win. He should’ve been racing IndyCars all along. He came along when everyone was giving NASCAR a try. He’d have been better off if he hadn’t.

2:56 p.m.

Tony Kanaan is going to win the Indianapolis 500 at last, and I could scarcely be happier.

Now I think I’m going to blog about the Coca-Cola 600 afterwards, in the conventional fashion. I haven’t done a “stream-of-consciousness blog” in quite some time. Let me know what you think of the format.

About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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15 Responses to Racing It As It Comes

  1. Mike Ray says:

    Excellent;best 500 in years until Dario hit the the man in Indy and Brazil today.I wasn’t starting anything between you and Jamie Little but the torn off tear off could be big,hitsville Raleighwood big;oh I’m getting my writing gig back June 14,Grand Re-Opening of Wake County Speedway;no money but it’s a job.Thanks for the Memorial Day blog in advance,remembering those who gave all.Gomer sez Hey!

  2. Andy says:

    Greatest day in motorsports!

    Couldn’t get up early enough this year to watch Monaco. I used to be a faithful follower of F1 but it seems like technology has taken everything out of the driver’s hands. Except maybe for Monte Carlo. Possibly the only track where in-car shots are actually valuable. Talk about cars being able to go that fast and turn left…you have to have massive confidence to go that fast on those narrow streets. Just imagine what it was like in 1964 when there were no guardrails and you could stand on the street corner and touch the cars as they sped past!

    I never miss Indy. It’s nearly always an exciting race, especially in the last 10 laps. Unlike a another series I could mention, they can race for the finish without crashing into one another. I’m pleased that Tony won, but disappointed that we didn’t have the climax that the race was building up to. I’m astounded that anyone would want to watch NASCAR after seeing an indycar race. More competition, more speed, fewer gimmicks.

    I already think that NASCAR needs to shorten all of their races by 100 miles. A 600 is not something I look forward to. Nothing happens until the last ten laps, I think I’ll tune in around 9:30. I’ve been following NASCAR since before Winston showed up. I used to LOVE watching races. Somewhere along the way it became a four hour long advertisement.

    I liked the stream-of-consciousness thing alright, but the gaps were too large. Didn’t get a good idea of how you’ve enjoyed the racing so far. NASCAR has a habit of influencing races to make the show more exciting and Brian France hates being overshadowed by the 500. I expect that there will be many pit penalties and mystery cautions toward the end of the World 600 in order to tighten up the field. They’ll want a win by a sentimental favorite as well. I’m betting on Jeff Gordon.

  3. Monte says:

    First of all, thanks for reading it and for letting me know how you feel.
    I sort of wrote something when I saw something that interested me. The deep insight should be reserved for those writers who are there. I used to do this occasionally in Gazette blogs, so I just decided to pull it out of mouthballs. I sort of enjoy writing in a more orthodox form more myself, but I thought I’d just do it as it went for the first two races and then try to make some sense of the 600 in the morning.

  4. Bobi says:

    Always enjoy your blog. Watched F1 but not really a fan. SO happy for TK…nice guy wins one! Currently watching the 600 and looking forward to your take on “cablegate.”

  5. Russ Edwards says:

    Liked the stream of consciousness idea. Lets people see that your motorsport world is bigger than Nascar.
    Good writing as usual. Always look forward to your articles.

    Wonder how the pigeon in Monte Carlo is feeling today? More traffic to dodge I’m sure, but going a bit slower.

  6. Bob Jurgens says:

    Thanks, Monte, for always keeping it interesting and a little surprising. We never quite know what turn your comments will take but it’s always entertaining when we find out.

    Stream was good, we thank you for that. Will be interested in your comments about Charlotte.

    Indy was a good example of why green flag finishes are a good thing. Interested in your thoughts in this.


  7. Judy B says:

    Enjoyed the stream of consciousness. I write ’em myself, not as often as I used to. Maybe with age my consciousness has lessened from a stream to a brook.

    Thanks for defining Memorial Day. Always been a pet peeve of mine, nobody seems to think about what the word “memorial” means.

    Glad I was most awake for what I thought was the best race of the trio. So happy for Tony, he’s a class act who deserved to get his milk bath!

  8. Monte says:

    I’m glad you liked it and appreciate the kind commments.

  9. Monte says:

    Heavily sedated, I’m thinking. May fly again tomorrow.

  10. J Bosworth says:

    What’d you have for breakfast?

  11. Dave J says:

    Mr. Dutton, your writing is honest and original. Whatever format you choose is fine by me.

  12. Rick Barton says:

    I think the line in Back Home Again In Indiana is ” the newmown hay in all its fragrance “. I’m a Hooiser born and bred. I love reading your blog. Keep up the good work and may you find a job soon.

  13. Tony Geinzer says:

    I always prefer Indy, and even though I’ve never been to Charlotte or the American Southeast, I hope to visit the Southeast and the Carolinas, too.

  14. Monte says:

    Thanks. Should’ve looked it up.

  15. Monte says:

    Sausage and a cheese omelet.

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