Saturday, September 07, 2013


right. so.

let's back up a little bit before asparaganza.

i was on my way "home" to an undisclosed campsite in the finger lakes national forest the first weekend in may and if you're coming from tburg (which i was) you pass the STARLITE SPEEDWAY!!!

STARLITE SPEEDWAY!it's a dirt-track go-kart track in a guy's side yard and he has bleachers and lights and everything and i thought: huh. that would be a cool thing to see and i suppose i might could'a' just pulled up into the parking and sat on the bleachers, but i thought maybe i would look up to see if they had a webpage or something.

and they do.

lookit those bad boys.and i am thinking that perhaps the best way to see this thing is from the inside and since the website says they always need volunteers, i call and volunteer.

so i'm at the library in tburg on thursday and i get a call and i arrange to meet damien friday night but then the race is rained out so i say if it's nice saturday i'll come then.
tire prep with wire brushon the racks
...which brings us to the afternoon hours after asparaganza.

so i have come from the gentle barefoot horse-tilling fiddle-playing hippie gathering just a few miles over dirt roads and now i am at the STARLITE SPEEDWAY!!!!!!!
driver's meeting
i am very sorry, but it's hard not to say that as if i am saying it through the loudspeaker at the track.

there are cars. lots and lots of little cars being hauled in big honkin' trailers with big honkin' trucks. there are tools and noise and motors and gasoline fumes and so many people are smoking that at one point i nearly imagine that a few of those folks are smoking several cigarettes at once.

ok, i wasn't really culturally at home with the barefoot hippies, and now in the space of fifteen minutes i have flown way off the other end of the spectrum where i am equally out of place.

it is cultural whiplash and i think my head might asplode.

over and over i keep trying to relate this very dense experience to anything i understand, and all i can do, sort of, is find the analagous structures in bicycle racing, because i understand bicycle racing.

there are similar bits.

here at the STARLITE SPEEDWAY!!!! you want to be the first one across the finish in the bell lap, only i don't think they call it the bell lap. and here, too, people compare and adjust equipment and gear and test things and put them on and off racks, except it is a bigger, noisier process to tune a little car than it is to tune a bike.

and it takes more than one person to lift the car up onto the work stand, and they probably don't call it a "work stand".

they wear specialized outfits, too. on my racecourse we wear special little shirts and pants and gloves and helmets, sometimes carrying the sponsor's name, but none of our outfits have to be fireproof.
into the weigh shack
but yeah, once i get over the initial shock and general gee whiz, look at THAT! aspect of it, a lot of the tire selection and gear adjusting looks a lot like what we do with the bicycles, at least in concept.

damien puts me to work in the weigh shack. they have a platform scale to weigh the cars! how cool is that? he also sets me to work as the house dick. this is a job i'm used to.

on the scaleat my regular race venue when we're not racing, part of what i do there is to help people find trails they will enjoy and i also check for trail passes. on a good day, i am the welcome wagon. on a bad day, i am a poacher catcher.

so wandering around the pits checking for pit passes fits inside my skill set, and i even smoke out a couple of poachers, thereby earning my keep.

mostly, though, i wander around taking pictures and asking questions.

lineupa LOT of questions. people are very kind to me even though i am clearly not of their tribe.

at some point in the evening, betty says to me you haven't ever seen a NASCAR race, have you?

hm. no. it shows, does it?

but people are very nice to me and explain a lot of things and at some point damien takes me out to the center of the track to watch a race from there. it is so noisy and fast moving that i begin to feel seasick.

team johnson
trailer lights

but it is also very exciting.

by the end of the night it is five or six hours past my bedtime and my head is pounding from the noise and my lungs hurt from all the fumes but i am not all that anxious to go because let's face it: this is COOL.

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