Our NASCAR tickets were hot in our hands as my 10-year-old son and I headed out to our first ever race at the Texas Motor Speedway, also known as the Redneck Roohaha. I had tried to get myself psyched up for the vast amounts of backwoods culture we might encounter but no amount preparation could have prepared me for the onslaught.
NASCAR is basically Wrestlemania on steroids. The warriors weren’t the Von Ericks or the Great Kabuki, but sheet-metaled steeds. And the crowd was definitely the same, except there were 100,000 packed into the bleachers each carrying a wheeled chest of highly coveted cargo, Coors Light. As race-time neared, Foreigner took the stage. The creaking rockers belted out Hot Blooded as a co-worker was posting up Facebook pics of herself and a friend on the infield, imbibing Four Loko’s, what I hear is the most God-forsaken drink ever invented.
My son and I flipped on the driver scanner we had rented, but being novices, we had no sound of the sweet serenade of pit chiefs checking their connections with their drivers. I toyed with the radio only to realize I was a victim of my own race ignorance. This was the Sprint Cup series not the Nationwide. The tweak of a button set the scanner crackling to life, as the driver’s introductions began.
I was not aware that there was a universal NASCAR villain, but that became quickly apparent as the name Jeff Gordon echoed over the P.A. A chorus of boos and hisses erupted from all the sleeveless shirted, jort cladded men and women sitting around us. You would have thought this man had intentions to bring down another large American skyscraper, but it turned out to be even worse—he was Californian.
My son was growing impatient for the start. A rousing National Anthem ensued, whereby I realized EVERYONE here was from a Red State as they sang passionately with various food-products-on-a-stick held gingerly over their hearts. After the invocation, my son leaned over and said, “So this is a Christian event, huh?” Please God, I know you love these people dearly, but please don’t leave Christendom solely in their hands.
“Gentlemen–no Danica in this race, START YOUR ENGINES!” Upon this command the rubber pawed beasts roared to life with a noise like that I have never heard before. They eased around the track following the pace car. You could sense each longed for speed as fans stood to their feet. And then it came, the drop of the flag. We sat on curve #1 and as the cars came by a shockwave of sound and wind rumbled over me. My son clutched his earphones tightly to his head, fearful of the exaggerated reports he had heard of instantaneous deafness if his aural precaution were to lapse for even a millisecond.
We watched the race continue with little event. About lap 50 my son said, “All they do is go in circles? Let’s go.” I wanted to get a bit more of my money’s worth so I bribed him with food. “How about a Fletcher’s corn dog, just like the state fair?” Okay he nodded back. I didn’t know if he really heard what I said. We got the golden fried corndog. He slathered it with mustard and ketchup and we headed back to the stands.
And Then It Happened.
Corbin had set down his corndog on the aluminum benches next to him. Behind us sat the king of all things hillbilly, appearing unshaven and unshowered. He had a pot belly, which he filled by drankin’ whiskey straight from a Mason jar. He was definitely feeling like this was his house and his people as he belted out a “Woooooohoooooo.” And then it happened. I had noticed he was shoeless.Probably left them back in the Airstream, no doubt. Soon his shoeless, fungaled feet slipped on the back of our aluminum bleacher. But they didn’t stop quite there. His yellow-nailed big toe wrapped around Corbin’s corndog and just rested there, caressing golden cylinder of processed meat with slow massaging motions as the coolness of the mustard and ketchup oozed between his toes. He just made a face that said, “Man that feels goooood.” Corbin sat wide-eyed in disbelief as I threw up in my mouth a bit. Through the roar, Corbin gave me a look that said, “Dad, please, please, Dad!” Needless to say, the corndog went uneaten and we hightailed it back to the car, having had a thorough enough NASCAR experience to call it a night without fear we had missed something. We have been fully initiated!