Racing Is For The Young As Well As The Old
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and of course that welcome also extends to our assigned reader of all things related to NASCAR, wherever this day might find you. As you know, I try hard to make all of my articles interactive between any or all of you and me. Today’s tale results from a dialogue with a reader following a recent column. As is my wont, I got just a bit long-winded and another reader suggested that my answer would make a great column. After some thought, I decided perhaps she was right, so here, with some slight modifications, is that comment.
Let’s do just a bit of set-up here. I have not contacted the gentleman that made the original comment, so I won’t copy over his words to this missive. The gist of it was that he had been speaking with a young girl that in the course of conversation told him that she thought she would enjoy going to a live race, but found the races on TV to be boring. Well, with FOX at the helm right now, it’s hard to argue with that, but the gentleman seemed ready to abandon hope that we of the older generation might ever impart our love of racing to the “kids” of today. Remember, to me anyone under 50 is a kid. It’s all in the perspective. Here then is my comment, edited just a bit to eliminate any unnecessary aside…
Ah yes, we have indeed discussed this until we've long since worn the "new" from the finish, and of course you are right. Kids of my generation (I know you are a bit younger, but not that much) were quite happy to walk home from school, change clothes and hit the outside running, because there were things to be done and games to be played… Things like climbing trees or running foot races in the nearby park. Games such as Kick the Can, Hopscotch, Hide and Seek, many versions of tag, Red Rover and of course, baseball and football, not necessarily in season. In the winter, we built snow forts, had snowball wars or took either sleds or ice skates to that same park for obvious purposes. The park had a hill and a pond. Life didn't get better than we knew it.
As we got a bit of age on us and became teenagers, the attention turned to those awesome new machines that Detroit was pumping out by the thousands and hundreds of thousands since the "War" was no longer ruling the day. It was the most natural thing in the world for an active generation, such as we were, to immediately want to see how fast the machines would go. Getting a driver's license was our rite of passage. We could get behind the wheel and feel we ruled the world... or at least maybe a straight stretch of road where we could put two beside each other and declare a winner by who crossed the finish line first.
We loved our cars almost as much, and sometimes maybe more, than our eventual life mates. When we were young, the automobile ruled the day. Racing was just a product of our general way of life.
Today's kids have no such upbringing. They don't go out and play as we did. Playing, to them, is done on a computer or a game box of some ilk that cost their parents probably more than did our first cars. That is their world, wrapped up inside a machine of varying size, from computer, to laptop, to “pad”, to X-box, to phone. The screen size doesn't matter. All fun, all communication, in fact almost all contact with the outside world is done on a keyboard. Conversation is almost obsolete. They hold a phone in their hands, but do not call anyone. They text.
I have a young friend with whom this difference has been discussed thoroughly. He does not find racing boring at 28 years of age. He lives, eats and breathes racing. In fact, he has just recently been hired and is in training to be ... a NASCAR official. God bless him and all like him, but yes, we both realize he is perhaps the exception that proves the rule. Still, I learn a lot from writing for and conversing with the young folks. I love youth, and remember mine quite fondly.
We have to remember, our grandparents lived when a buggy whip had a daily use and most folks had a butter churn. Many had an ice-box, not a refrigerator, and not only did they not have television, but movies made no sound and the wonder of the day was called a Victrola... a contraption that spun large fragile discs and when a needle was applied, scratchy music came forth to thrill a generation of folks that saw that as technology at its best… the harnessing of sound.
It's the nature of man on earth that change is truly the only constant. The important thing is that we keep an open line through conversation or even texting if it must be, with that younger generation. The only way they can understand what we feel is if we tell them. You cannot pass on our history to them if you don't allow them their part of the conversation, and listen to what they have to say. I couldn't explain that well enough to some, so now I talk with them here at Race Fans Forever, and on Twitter. It’s quite a symbiotic relationship I think. I don’t talk down to them for being young and they don’t point and laugh at me for being old. I think it’s called “r-e-s-p-e-c-t.”
That same young friend I mentioned told me something not long ago that made it all worth it. He said something like, "So many older folks just complain about things not being like they used to be and sound so bitter and disapproving when they do. When you complain, or don't like something that's being done, I can hear the love of racing in every word you speak or write. It's that love that makes all the difference."
My friend, I'll take that accolade and cherish it to my grave because I think you know that I do love racing and always have. I know you do as well my friend. Next time you talk with that young girl, or one like her that sees racing as boring, stop and take the time to tell her what we see in it and why it is not boring if one looks for and sees those things. Don't just walk away shaking your head at the difference. Love them for the difference and teach them.
Thanks for the comments. You always wind me up like an old alarm clock. Anytime you want a platform to talk to and with them about racing, we can always use new writers. Think about it.
Gentle readers, just before our Classic Country Closeout, I’d like to say two things:
First, please don’t miss the new column by a gal I hope will become a regular here on the pages of Race Fans Forever. Her name is Vivian Simons and she has submitted a few “guest articles” this year. Please read her offering and make her feel at home. I think you’ll love her as I do!
Next, this is what’s known to those of the Christian faith as “Holy Week”, the week preceding Easter, the day we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
I take this opportunity to wish each of my gentle readers of a Christian denomination a Happy and Blessed Easter, and to all gentle readers of the Jewish faith, Shalom and Happy Passover. Time now for music!
This week, in honor of the upcoming religious holiday, we’ll be visiting a side of Classic Country where we have not ventured before. Country Gospel music is probably the oldest of Country and Blue Grass genres and where it all began. First up we have the undisputed King of Classic Country, the late, great Hank Williams, doing a song that he wrote and sang, and has always been one of my very favorite Hank songs… “I Saw the Light.”
Next, another of my very favorites, both song and singer, this is Tennessee Ernie Ford singing for us “The Old Rugged Cross.” Please enjoy!
This has to be the most beautiful version of one of the most beautiful sacred songs ever written. Here is the incomparable voice of Jim Reeves offering his rendition of “Precious Memories.”
Our next song is one offered for a friend. This Andy Griffith (Not as Andy Taylor) singing a very old and dear song, “The Church in the Wildwood.” The song was featured on an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” where Andy sang it in concert with Don Knotts, but this one includes the whole song.
Last up is the song I hope they will play for me as I go to my final resting place. It is perhaps the most beautiful song ever written, by the man I feel could sing any song and it would be the best version ever. This is Red Foley singing the song he is best known for, “Peace in the Valley.”
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!