Back when it was still known as The Alambama International Motor Speedway, I ventured across to my neighbor state and a sleepy burg called Talladega to witness my very first NASCAR race, The Die Hard 500.
Dale Earnhardt was victorious that day. I remember that, but I don’t remember much else about the event, take away standing in what is known as the OV Hill South section -where the tri-oval kinks one last time before the Start/Finish line- up against the fence and being moderately impressed with the volume of air 40 cars can move when they pass you in a tight pack, three abreast, at 185 miles per hour.
Other than that, the racing was dross. Mind numbingly boring. An off-the-scale yawn festival. However, the rednecks in my immediate area, a large portion of them being Earnhardt fans, were modestly entertaining. Long about lap 100 or so, the giant crash that is the average NASCAR fan’s wet dream began to unfold. It was a blur of smoke and flying car parts hurling past my vantage point at well over 170 miles per hour. The razor sharp sound of cars smacking into cars or walls with an unhuman staccato violence, and sustained, sincere, crunching booms echoed off the towering grandstands. Bits and pieces of cars seemed to hang in the air long after the tangled mess of wrecked cars slid past my spot, dramatically accentuating the speed at which the massive carnage had occurred.
The rednecks cheered and rushed the pedestrian fence in a push at the first hint of trouble. As a car and its now helpless driver suddenly juked towards the outside across the nose of a three-wide pack, they held their cigarettes and beer cans to the heavens in praise. Their nicotine-stained middle fingers bid the hapless drivers farewell as the smoking, mutilated mess slid passed in a madcap symphony of destruction. Ashes from cigarettes drifted like gray snowflakes in the dying manmade breeze.
I never went back to another one. And as the France family turned NASCAR away from racing cars and into nothing more than a giant marketing juggernaut aimed at society’s lowest common denominators, and the fact that driving a fat pig with no brakes on an giant tri-oval track has as much to do with motorsports as professional wrestling has to do with wrestling, I consider the entire NASCAR family and formula a boil on the ass of motorsports world wide.
Here’s hoping Marcos Ambrose reaches back into his Australian V8 Supercar bag of dirty tricks and shows the dumb rednecks -drivers included- what is expected and can be achieved when racing a race car on an actual race track. Of course, it would be of immense help if Marcos had an actual race car under him instead of the non production-based, spec racer bullshit called a stock car he is forced to drive……..