Sunday, April 03, 2005

Bump and Run: walking in the fast lane

Bristol, Tennessee on Race Weekend is an amazing sight. Bristol is NASCAR’s fasted half mile, they say. Driving through its race time traffic, conversely, has got to be the slowest half mile. I live less than a mile away from the track and I will never cease to be amazed by the volumes of people who attend. Many start arriving a week prior to set up their RVs, Fifth Wheels, and tents. I call it Camp Town. Camp Town reminds me of the parking lot scene before a Phish or Widespread Panic show. Others, if they’ve book a year in advance, stay in hotels, some even an hour and a half out of town. Driving through this traffic sometimes is a necessity, but most often I avoid it. I bought gas the week prior to the race to avoid the “gas gouging” by the areas’ gas stations. Everybody can make a buck during Race Weekend. The local neighborhoods that encircle the track become temporary parking lots. You can park in front yards, under tire swings, on embankments sliding down at sharp angles, on muddy creek banks, on church lawns, in schools zones, on historic landmarks, on small woodland animals, on top of the elderly and just about anywhere else you can cram a vehicle.

I live in one of these neighborhoods but just slightly outside of the “money zone”. People park on the streets around my house because it’s free. These spots suck anyway so why should they pay me to park on my lawn? It’s no closer to the track and it’s free. The down side for them is that they will have to “flat foot it” almost a mile to the track. I recognize these cars from the last race. They are perennials.

Don’t mistake anything about this article as a fondness for Race Weekend. It is a spectacle but the throngs of race fans in the streets, some in varying degrees of inebriation, makes it difficult to get anywhere. They will dart across the street without evening looking. These fans aren’t athletes either. They might be wearing race uniforms and logos, but it doesn’t mean you should confuse them with anything related to speed. Most are hauling around heavy coolers filled with beer cans and others are hauling around coolers filled with their empties. Their response time isn’t always at its peak. I’ve seen things under a microscope slide move quicker.

It is safe to assume that this weekend is Race Weekend. It is safe to say that I was stuck in race traffic. And it’s safe to say that the culmination of all this was a very bad day. Writing about it, though, does make me feel better. So, I’ve decided not to share with you a story I made up entitled, Bump and Run. The story line just came together while I was stuck in traffic.

No comments: