Clinton, S.C., Friday, May 30, 2014, 5:10 p.m.
I’ve been monitoring events at Dover International Speedway, which is to note that I have been writing and reading while the announcers prattle on. Like many NASCAR fans, I subconsciously measure how many minutes off the “live” qualifying is from what is “live” on Twitter. As I don’t consider Twitter another dimension in time and space, I assume it’s TV that plays fast and loose with the language and truth.
But what do I know? People on TV are rumored to have jobs.
At the risk of my own distortion, I’ve always considered Dover to be a bit underrated. I say that because in order for one track to be underrated, another has to be overrated, and I can’t think of many tracks that are overrated. It’s similar to that most absurd of college-athletics designations, the “mid-major.” In order for there to be a mid-major, there must be a low-major, and based on exhaustive study of broadcasters and reporters, I can find the existence of no such schools.
It would make much more sense to call Dover International Speedway a mid-major, but we’ll abide no cross-dressing here.
Aside: I just checked my home page, and a headline referred to “the Thai Coup Chief.” I think I had that in Southern Pines one time. It came with soup.
One fascination of mine that regular readers of this blog may note is the oft-repeated citing of alleged truths that are statistically invalid. One is that older drivers are as good as they ever were. It’s inspirational to watch athletes defy ever-increasing odds, but it’s a game they cannot win.
Another is the empty contention that racing is more competitive than it has ever been before.
- The act of competing, as for profit or a prize; rivalry.
- A test of skill or ability; a contest.
- Rivalry between two or more businesses striving for the same customer or market.
The level of competition cannot be the best ever when one driver, Jimmie Johnson, wins six championships in a span of eight years. It cannot be the best ever when one driver, Kyle Busch, wins every race in the Camping World Truck Series. As this is written, Busch is going for his fourth in a row this year and fifth in a row dating back to last season.
It is, however, more competitive, at least in terms of degree of difficulty, for drivers not named Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Busch.
Then there’s my belief that anyone inducted into a Hall of Fame must be famous. I’m not referring to the NASCAR Hall of Fame … yet.
Yes, I like Dover. I find the sight of race cars diving into its gigantic, concrete turns breathtaking. It becomes somewhat less so when they do it 800 times, as they will on Sunday, but I liken it a bit to watching fighter planes peel off in formation.
Nice people work at Dover, though I’m sure there are new ones since I last visited. I’ve known several sets. They’ve all been friendly and helpful. The area is unique. I miss going to Camden Yards or Citizens Bank Park on Friday or Saturday night. I miss the slots casino, where, believe it or not, I usually won more than I lost. I miss playing music outside the little bar at the side entrance. I miss the cuisine, which is heavy on the crabs of Chesapeake Bay.
The track is high-banked and fast enough to support 400 miles. It’s the right distance. I remember when it was 500 miles and people in the press box achieved startling improvement in their crossword-puzzle skills.
I’ve been working on a stock-car-themed short story since I got back from the road trip. I finished it this morning, just in time to beat a contest deadline. It’s posted now at wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, and I hope it’s a trip back in time you’ll enjoy. It’s rated “R,” by the way, or, at least, that’s what kind of movie it would make. It’s a look back to the different breed of racers who were around when I got started watching them.