NASCAR and Home
Note: My articles are based solely on my thoughts, observations and sometimes experiences. Normally I do not offer statistics, although at times I may reference what different broadcasters, among others, have said or alluded to.
In 1940, Thomas Wolfe wrote a very long novel entitled, “You Can't Go Home Again”.
In 1964 Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote and composed a song called “A House Is Not a Home”.
Right now I can imagine that many younger fans (and some older fans, too) are thinking and wondering: “Who are those people and what do those statements have to do with racing?”
Please bear with me while I try to put it into perspective.
As each of us goes through life, we are taught values and develop our own way of understanding how various things can have different meanings, and how they can interact with other things that seem totally unrelated at the time we are experiencing them.
As a child, my parents instilled in me that there is a very big difference in a house and a home. I was also taught that times and things sometimes change on a fairly regular basis. When I was ready to move out and live on my own, they reminded me that when I came back to visit, all may not be the same as when I left. They also told me if circumstances should make me have to move back in with them for a while, that it would not be the same as when I moved out. Their home and love would still be there, but other things would be different.
There is a phrase in the book by Thomas Wolfe, it reads:
“You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time.”
After graduation, I would find my life changing in big ways. I had watched my oldest brother do a bit of racing with friends, mostly on dirt roads and make-shift tracks in the woods near our home. The sight, smells and sound was just totally awesome. I loved the cars and the speed. The local tracks around our area became a big part of my life. Many years later, one of my bosses at a Chevy dealership told me that I had gas in my blood. I just smiled…
A new chapter began when, in 1959, NASCAR came to Daytona. That was one of the most exciting times in my life – up until then. The racers were celebrities and each had his own expertise and personality that drew fans. They were bigger than life. Even so, each took time to spend with fans and sign autographs. They were totally real, just like the fans, except they could do something we couldn’t. They could race fast cars on a very high banked track. Life was good. Cars were truly stock looking, but there were innovators who made them go much, much faster than the average person’s car. The driver who was my future mentor drove the first Dodge in that race and finished 28th.
I attended many Daytona 500 races and also attended not only the first 24 hours of Daytona, but many more. I loved every minute of them. But… now it is a totally different Daytona and the race cars are so different, yet so similar, that one cannot begin to compare them with the ones that were driven by the racers back then.
After I moved to the West Coast, I made several trips back to Daytona and each time I saw many changes. There were now drivers in the car, rather than complete racers. The technology had changed so much that the sport itself had evolved into something that was not as consuming as it was in the early days. It was still exciting and the speeds were higher than anything I had ever seen. The paint jobs were more professional and the cars were decorated with sponsors logos and names, much more than when the sport first began.
As I watched racing through the years, I noticed almost all the changes, and I also recognized that many times the rules were being changed on a fairly regular basis. There were tracks like Martinsville, Richmond and Bristol that I wanted to visit and watch the race and racers. I wanted to be able to talk with other fans about their experiences and have them tell me about the tracks they had been to.
Changes have come and racing is not the sport I once knew and loved and although the drivers are celebrities, they are not of the same caliber that the ones in the beginning were. Like many others, I am not as dedicated as I once was to the sport that has been my life since I was in my teens. My interest is waning more and more each year.
I fear what I may or may not find and feel if I were to go to Daytona again. I do know that when I lived near there, it felt like home. Sadly, it would not be home any more. Racing has become just a house now and does not have everything it takes to be a home any more.
Do any of you have any tracks you felt, or feel, that way about? Could you go back and still feel the same? What about racing? Is it still a home for you? Or just a house you enter sometimes?
Back in the 1960’s and 70’s, I used to listen to Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick a lot. I like the following song because it reminds me of my Mom and Dad and the advice they gave me.
Thank you for reading and commenting here. Your thoughts, ideas on the subject and opinions are very welcome. I remind you to keep them clean and no bashing, please. You may also email comments to me.