Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, November 14, 2014, 9:04 a.m.
Readers hate to read lectures. This I understand more because I’m more of a reader now. The lack of common ground between many fans and the media resonates more. I talk to people at hardware stores and music venues. I don’t go to NASCAR venues anymore. A few more of the trees make up my forest.
Ten years ago, the Chase was completing its first year, and I was at Homestead-Miami Speedway to watch Kurt Busch win the championship. I clashed in the media center with a writer who had written an ingratiating column, the gist of which was that anyone who didn’t love the Chase should just “get out.” I confronted the person who wrote it, saying that since I disagreed with the Chase, I obviously needed to find something else to do.
(He just missed it by eight years.)
First he (or she) denied writing it, to which I said something subtle like, “Oh, yes, hell, you did.” Then he (or she) got all weepy-eyed and said he (or she) had all the respect in the world for me, yada, yada, yada.
He (or she) just didn’t expect to be called on it. History was on his (her) side. He (she) got the last laugh. He (she) is still out there, prospering. I’m hoping this next novel makes it big.
I’ve got a long history of rather being right than president. In spite of watching Doctor Strangelove at least two dozen times, I still haven’t learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.
I hated the Chase in all its previous incarnations, but this one is to the original as nuclear is to atomic, Oxycontin to aspirin, moonshine to wine spritzer, and Alabama to Savannah State.
I just reflect my own thoughts. If you like this, it is your right, and it’s quite possible that NASCAR is attracting more of you than losing those like me. It’s also possible that guys like me will continue to watch, even if we don’t like it as much, because we simply like racing, and even watered down, it beats spending all my time reading and writing, playing guitar and tweeting in haiku.
Wait a minute. Did I just write that?
It’s not been unusual for people who know me to see a certain inconsistency in my barbaric enjoyment of watching cars go around and around. Furman University wasn’t a hotbed of stock car racing in the late seventies and early eighties. Steve Bishop, a fine fullback, and I used to go to Riverside, a dirt track, and paved Greenville-Pickens, where we’d sit on the tailgate of his Chevy pickup and swig beer amidst the racing tumult. Another friend, Bernard Durham, and I went to the 1984 fall race at Charlotte, and I remember how shocked Bernard was when the fans cheered. What shocked him was that they were cheering Darrell Waltrip for wrecking.
I never liked wrestling. NASCAR was my guilty pleasure.
Just because I loved NASCAR, I didn’t stop loving the novels of John Steinbeck, black-and-white movies from the thirties and forties, the poetry of Robert Frost, the songs of Tom T. Hall, and every word Carl Sandburg wrote about Abraham Lincoln.
It’s a long way from my literary idol, Steinbeck, to my racing idol, David Pearson. Hmm. Where is there common ground? Okay. Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men. Lots of drivers were mice. Pearson was one of the men. It’s not a valid comparison, but it’s all I got.
Maybe I just like it now where once I loved it. Maybe when the sport goes into hibernation for the winter, I’ll rekindle a yearning for the high banks of Daytona and the boisterous bumps and runs of Martinsville. Maybe, come February, I’ll think of the chill winds and how the flocks of seagulls rise skyward at the first roar of an engine.
I keep reading where fans are “pumped,” and “stoked,” for this final race. I can’t make up my mind whether I’d rather see a deserving champion emerge from the smoke and mirrors of this format or a winless champion who it exposes it for the fraud it is. Some would say the format defines the championship and thus is anyone who wins it legitimized.
It’s the same way winning the Powerball defines a rich man (or woman).
As Tom T. once wrote in regard to his native music, “They might pat your fanny, and say you’re a dandy, but they still don’t like picking on network TV.”
In the off chance that you’d like to my books — the novels, The Audacity of Dope and The Intangibles, and non-fiction books about NASCAR and music – they’re available here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1414631316&sr=1-1
My short stories and essays are at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com.