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Monday, March 5, 2012


     pics taken from the tv by tj worthington

Yesterday was the big race at the one mile Phoenix track, the 500. I felt like it was a neither here nor there race to watch, though I doubt that's how it felt in the cockpits of the cars. I suppose I mean it didn't have much of a dramatic racial character. All the cars are equally well made and finely tuned. All the drivers are about equally trained and equally alert. Nobody could pull away from the pack, the lead changed continually, and it didn't matter who was in the lead at any given moment. It was one of those races that runs its course and then in the last 50 laps they start positioning themselves, moving toward the front, the last 10 laps pedal to the metal. It was also a race of few wrecks.

When something happened, it was usually one car with a blown tire ("sudden air pressure loss") or blown motor, and the ones that went out of control with smoking tires seldom hit any other cars. I don't like seeing half a dozen cars put out of the race randomly because somebody in front of them lost traction. At the same time, that's part of racing. Behind a car on the interstate, a cloud of smoke suddenly swallows the car maybe ten feet ahead going 70, the engine blew and the driver locked the brakes. There y'are, either in the highway patrol car filling out the accident report for insurance, or in the ambulance on the way to the hospital or the funeral home, whichever. 

Justin and I gathered at Chad's place in Pine Swamp to see the race with pizza, "wings," and beer. Well, Chad had the beer. Justin drank coke and I had gatorade. We all like a good race, but I didn't see that any of us was excited, ever at any moment of the race. It was a watch and see race. I hope this isn't the nature of the races this year with restrictor plates that hold everybody to the same speed and don't allow anyone to leave the pack. Though without the restrictor plates they run in single-file lines where nobody can pass anybody, and they run in a line all afternoon. With the restrictor plates they run in packs. Somebody's loss of traction takes half a dozen cars out of the race. Racing has become like other tv sports, so tight that the one making the least mistakes wins.

Surely the races will change as races go by. If these beginning races spell the nature of the races this year, I won't be watching much more. I suspect that applies to a lot of people. I'd rather take a nap than watch a boring race. Chad and Justin are race enthusiasts, the kind that like to punch the air with a fist and holler. We didn't even talk much during this race. It felt like we were watching the cars run round and round the track just to burn high-octane gas at the rate of 4.2mi per gallon. One of the talking heads said something about fuel economy and I laughed out loud. These races are not about fuel economy. There is nothing "green" about them. Considering gas, oil and tires, one of these races probably consumes a full oil tanker. Regular car tires take 7-8 gallons of oil per tire. Those race tires I'd imagine take probably 15, thereabouts. Approximately 120+ gallons of gas per car per race. 40 cars run, and it's 4800 gallons of gasahol, a portion of which is raw white liquor, made by moonshiners, with such high alcohol content it's undrinkable.

Several years ago Justin scored two tickets to the Charlotte 500. It wasn't long before inside the bowl of the track, the bleachers the side of the bowl, the air was pungent with burnt fuel and burnt rubber. The air over the track was an upside down bowl on top of the bowl of the track. Inside that bowl was pollution such that no city in the world has the like. The pollution was so extreme, it was exciting. It felt like power inhaling it. Not a good place for volvo driving middle class PC liberals. NASCAR is definitely not green. I don't fault it for that. Of course it's not green. It's about oil consumption. The noise, too, is so loud it's like a really loud band playing thrash, like Pantera, in a mega auditorium. The kind of sound you don't need ears to hear. These races are a kind of rebellion, like dirty jokes, a sharp stick in the eye to people who figure carbon footprints. Even when a race is boring, a race is a race is a race. It's all good.


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