BY JAMES DOOLITTLE
Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007
There is something undeniably sexual about the buildup to the first crash of a given NASCAR race. Even I got a bit tingly in anticipation the moment the crowd yelled ?Start Your Engines? with bloodthirsty enthusiasm. And as the steady thrum of 20-odd motors begin pounding rhythmically against the eardrums, there was a wanton desire to achieve an emotional orgasm that can only come through skid marks and shattered fenders.
A pile up . . . Oh yes! yes! YES! Truly the closest many men in attendance will come to achieving multiple orgasm.
And if that analogy isn?t considered needlessly excessive by the masses at hand, then let me go one step further and state that simply waiting for a crash to occur is utterly blue ball-erific. One lap, two lap, three and . . . snore . . .five lap, six lap, seven lap, more, more . . . of . . . NOTHING?!? Where?s the fiery chaos, the sirens, the shattered Nextel dreams of a steely up-and-comer?
I never thought I would say this, but in comparison to the real thing, Days of Thunder is a masterpiece of fulfillment.
Another thing Hollywood got right? The Talladega Nights riff on corporate sponsorship. Logos are everywhere, applied in some cases with nary a nod to stylistic adjustments. Banners are strewn, stickers are stuck, and Cheerios align themselves with Betty Crocker?s spoon on jumpsuits that assure a small Mexican village a solid month’s worth of embroidery work.
These are the things that begin to fill the mind as one sits pit-side, if only for the fact that by lap 100, there?s not much else to consider. Even the pit crews seem bored as they await the inevitable gas up and tire change. Conversation doesn?t seem to be an option, considering you couldn?t share a laugh with a cohort over this, that or the other thing with the surrounding audio still peaking red. I?m even beginning to wonder whether all those nerds whose crowns are adorned with headsets can actually hear the in-car chatter they?ve paid for, or whether the contraptions are simply for show, a more manly variation on earplugs for the manliest of crowds.
In essence, an afternoon at the Dover International Speedway becomes nothing more than a four-hour window in which the assembled throngs block out the more chaotic world that lies just outside the perimeter, a world full of both uncertainties and dangers, wonders and joys, all of which are best ignored and — for obvious reasons — left totally undiscussed on the premises. I stand fairly certain that this is definitely not the case with baseball, football or even hockey, sports where being part of a crowd entails a bit of relativity with those in attendance around you.
I think back to Days of Thunder, and the immortal words of Cole Trickle on the notion of speed, and the need to control it, and ? more importantly ? the relief in the knowledge that ?I can control something that’s out of control.?
For the onlooker, it?s all by proxy, and while the Tenet of Trickle may hold true, the activity itself is more about lulling oneself into a hypnotic routine; the eyes moving in a circular motion, the ears all but tuning out the lifebeat of the person next to you in lieu of tuning in to the collective roar below. I monitor an entire row of onlookers sitting some 10 rows off the track, and for 20 laps, the only thing that breaks this non-communicative routine is the interruption of one onlooker who has to remove himself for a concession trip.
I look to my attendee-in-crime, who sits with head bobbing, partly due to the hot rays of the sun, mostly due to the glory of cold 24 oz Budweisers. At Lap 210, I decide to break from the flock. I drop the hammer. I opt to communicate.
Finger across neck, guillotine-style. Let?s go home. Please.
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