For Jenn (and race fans)

by Steve, August 29th, 2006

photosSome of you, like Jenn, may have been put off by my seemingly anti-NASCAR comments a while back. So here I am trying to make it up to you. I took Himself Jr. to the local dirt track Saturday night for an evening of stock car racing excitement. I must say, it was everything I remember, with the addition of Budweiser (I was too young to drink last time I went to the races).

early fans

We got there early, and so did these guys.

Old Glory

Here’s something you don’t see at a hockey game: Old Glory proudly flying off the back of a Trans Am. And unlike at hockey games, the crowd did not go wild at the line “o’er the land of the free….” I’m not sure if it is out of respect for the song, or just a lack of enthusiasm. Could it be that hockey fans have a more libertarian bent than race fans?

pure stocks

After time trials for the late models, the racing got under way with the “pure stocks”, cars with virtually unmodified engines and chasis. Predominant stock models are Camaros, Trans Ams, Novas and Monte Carlos. (Sunset Speedway also runs street stocks, with souped up engines, modifieds, which are Frankenstein’s monsters built on passenger car frames and with open wheels on the front end, and late models, purpose-built dirt track racers.)

race fans

Race fans pretty much fit into the same demographic as hockey fans, i.e. working class. Fun for all ages. If you think NASCAR Democrats are rare, try being the only socialist in the crowd. But no problem. The fans were all really nice. We talked to a couple young boys whose Dad drives a modified. I asked how he was doing in points, and they said, well, not so good. His car keeps losing parts and he keeps crashing, they said. Sure enough, in the first heat race in the modified class, their dad slammed into the wall on the first corner of the first lap.


Some people say race fans only go to see the wrecks (kind of like hockey fans who go to see fights). Stock car racing is a full contact affair (except in the pure stock division), with lots of bumping and occasional wrecks. This car was involved in a smash up coming out of the 3 turn and nearly rolled.

late models

Small boy enjoyed the show for a while. During warm up laps, when all four classes of racers were out on the track, he started naming them as they went by. “Late model. Late model. Modified. Late Model.” Unfortunately, we got there way too early, and by the time the heat racing started, he had seen enough cars and found a bug in the gravel under the stands. He played with that for the rest of the evening. We stayed for one late model heat, and then headed home.