Please indulge me while I have a gear head moment.
Or, is that gearhead?
Anyway, there’s nothing quite like the sensation of sand in your molars and the smell of gasoline in the air. Throw in an elephant ear and it’s my idea of Saturday night fun in the summer.
I’m talking about the stock car races.
I’m snazzy that way.
Every time I go to the stock car races (about once a year, if I’m lucky), I can’t get two steps into the parking lot without flashing back oh…about 35 years. Oh sure, it’s all happening in modern-day 2013, but the experience is all vintage for me.
‘Cos you know, I’ve regressed in a span of 45 seconds to about the age of six.
Maybe it’s the rows of bleachers rising up out of the sand.
Or the buzzing sound of the car engines racing around the oval.
It could be the inky stamp on my hand that will last until Thursday, unless I scrub.
Maybe it’s the smell of the deep fryer in the concession stands.
Suddenly, I’m grinning like an idiot and clapping my hands and jumping up and down as I bounce towards the gate. The noise of the cars and the racetrack announcer are getting louder with every sproing.
In case you don’t quite have the whole picture:
Looking ridiculous (but with safe ears).
As I bounce, Tigger-like, wearing bright, yellow ear defenders (it’s very loud).
The race track is out-of-town, by the way.
(I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.)
As the sun sets and a few mosquitoes start nosing around our legs, cars that look like kleenex boxes or 30s gangster getaway vehicles drift (that’s what it’s called: drifting) sideways, sideways, eeeeek, sideways around the curves in a perilous, high-speed dance.
Inches from each other, just shy of 25 cars scream around an impossibly-crowded track. Their tires churn and slide in the clay with every corner and I grip the wooden seat beneath me, as if I can will them safely around the bend by keeping my eyes glued to them. Eventually, I realize that I’m grinding sand between my teeth and dust from the track has blown and settled into the crevices in my elbows.
It’s grand, grand, grand.
Suddenly, someone bumps a fender or gets over-confident in the curve. Instantly, it’s pandemonium. The crowd roars approval and dismay as we frantically search the wreckage and cars limp to the pits, fenders only snarled, if they’re lucky. The clean-up crews quickly swarm the field and almost before you can breathe a sigh of relief, the race is on again.
Of course, it’s not very environmentally friendly with all the fumes and the noise, but neither are bottles of nail polish or the bananas found in every Canadian grocery store. So, do your part for the environment: grow or buy local food, re-use, re-new, recycle.
Then, I’ll meet you at the races, next Saturday, by the elephant ears.
I’ll be the one hopping up and down like a six-year-old, with dust in my teeth and elbows. Reverting to childhood at the races is a riot.
You shouldn’t miss it.
Oh, and don’t forget to BYO ear defenders.
If you dare.