‘Hey, Let’s Me and You Run Us a Dirt Track’

 

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, December 17, 2017, 9:00 a.m.

It’s quite possible that the future of NASCAR is tied to the future of tracks that aren’t part of it. Many of the nation’s short tracks are aligned with the nation’s preeminent governing body, but most people think of big tracks and millionaires when they think of the Lords of Daytona Beach.

A driver has to suffer before he (or she) can spend, and the same is true of fans.

One of my overriding beliefs is fans can grow to like racing by watching on TV, but they have to go there, be there, breathe the smoke, hear the sound, and experience the speed in dizzying person, to love it.

I still love short tracks. I still love racing on dirt. I also love high school football and minor league baseball. As Rickey Skaggs sings:

Don’t get above your raisin’ / Stay down to earth with me

Every time I drive by the old dirt track near Chester (Richburg, says the sign), I start thinking the way kids do.

Hey, man, let’s start a band.

Hey, we could get together and open a bar.

We’ll always be friends, man. No matter how far away we get. People lose touch, but that’s never gonna happen to us.

Dreams don’t often pay the bills. Even when they do, the dreams die. They aren’t dreams anymore if they’re real.

For 25 years, I’ve been driving by that track, on Highway 9, between Chester and Interstate 77, usually on the way to Charlotte but, once upon a time, the way to Rockingham. On Thursday, I drove by on the way to meet someone from Charlotte for lunch at the Front Porch, one of few great cafes (it’s a kuh-FAY if it’s trendy and a KAF-FAY if it’s good) located off the exit of an interstate. NASCAR friends usually meet me halfway, and that’s Gaffney on I-85 and Chester on 77. As home folks are fond to say, it’s six one, half dozen the other.

Sometimes the sign says something like “Racing Every Friday Night,” but more often it says “For Sale.” As best I recall, scenes for a movie about Wendell Scott were filmed there a few years back. Not Greased Lightning, the Richard Pryor vehicle, but a more recent flick that I’ve never seen or heard much more about. I’d watch it if I knew where it was. I know where the dirt track is.

Every time I go by there, I think, Well, man, I bet I could manage a dirt track. It would be fun.

I imagine standing on a flatbed trailer in a Piggly Wiggly parking lot, wearing a bolo tie, cowboy boots and a Stetson, and carrying on like I was a latter day P.T. Barnum, and then I remember that there are no latter-day P.T. Barnums, even though there still is a sucker born every minute.

This time I finally stopped and snapped few pictures.

Dreams are still important, even after a man has reached the age where he no longer believes in them.

I’m thinking about adding tee shirts that read “I Got Cash Money … and I’m working steady” to my Patreon rewards. That’s the goal. Won’t you help me by clicking here?

As Christmas closes in, won’t you consider my books?

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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