Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, February 9, 2015, 11:57 a.m.
If the higher purpose had been giving the world an extra motive for anticipating the beginning of the NASCAR season, the weekend just past worked marvelously, at least personally.
What were the highlights? Let me count them. It may take a minute.
Locally, I watched Presbyterian College win a game over Liberty on Friday night.
Furman, South Carolina, and Clemson all fell. The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Saint Louis Blues, significant, like many hockey matches, in that Doc Emrick called it on NBC. In the span of three hours, I watched about a minute of the Grammys. Verlon Thompson was on a PBS music show called Live at Hippie Jack’s.
Now, the Sprint Unlimited, which is in reality slightly less limited but still very much so, sits perched amid the rivers of memory, ever smiling, ever gentle on my mind. (RIP, John Hartford.) I don’t know who’s in it, though I know it will include all the Chase drivers from last year and pole winners who didn’t make it. I don’t much care. I just want to see them race.
Every time the rules change, racing at the plate tracks, Daytona and Talladega, gets different in a way no one expects. No one anticipated bump-drafting. First NASCAR wanted to break up the packs, and then it wanted to bring them back. Now the cars have less power and downforce. It’ll make them easier to drive in one way and harder in another. The drivers try to anticipate what will change. They’ve tested but not in race conditions. The Sprint Unlimited ought to provide at least an inkling of what they have in store.
I probably miss racing this time of the year more than any other. That’s because, for twenty years, Daytona Beach was the only place I went where I spent two weeks and where, instead of hotel rooms, I’d share a condo – at various locations but north of Ormond Beach for the last decade – with others. I know Daytona Beach. I have friends there. I know the shortcuts to avoid traffic, the overlooked restaurants and nightclubs, and the places where I could go play music during Speedweeks. I have more memories there: more funny stories, vivid experiences, and the like. Maybe I’ll revisit them over the next two weeks.
I just wrote a feature on Chase Elliott for Bleacher Report. You can find it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2358368-what-sets-chase-elliott-apart
I’d appreciate it, as well, if you’d take a look at my various books and consider buying them: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1