I bid you welcome gentle readers. Today we have for you another reprise of a visit by the Lady in Black, everyone’s favorite “raving reporter.” On this occasion, she was reporting directly from the grounds of Charlotte Motor Speedway (fancy that!), then doing its term a “Lowe’s”, which was completely disregarded by both the Lady and this scribe. For the folks that never read the Lady’s escapades, and for those with short or fading memories, you can find the actual race records by clicking right about here. Now, without further ado, let’s take a ride in the time machine to October 11, 2003.
Good day race fans. This is your raving reporter, the Lady in Black, coming to you this week from just outside the Queen’s City of Charlotte, North Carolina, in the heart of stock car racing country. They tell me that I’m supposed to call it “Lowe’s” now, but I’ve been all over the area and can’t find a town with that name. It’s been “Charlotte” since 1960, so forgive me if I lapse into the familiar from time to time.
The kids from Winston Cup pulled into town a day early this week, to prepare for racing under the lights on Saturday night. Thursday night’s qualifying was undisturbed by weather, but true to form, it moved in on Friday and the Busch Leaguers had to postpone their Friday night race until Saturday morning. Double your pleasure, double your fun…. Oops! Wrong twins! The Busch race was won by Sniffles, doing a bit of Busch whacking and pulling out to a 12-second lead at the checkers. (Ho-hum)Out in Texas, at Bruton’s other track it was Brendan Gone, boringly but predictably winning the truck race there for the fourth consecutive time.
The National Anthem was destroyed this week by someone named Monica, who sounded rather like a Blue-tick Hound sitting on a burr. Strike Fighter Squadron 37 sent four FA-18 Hornets over the track in an effort to silence her, but danged if she didn’t wait until they were gone to attempt the last few notes. The planes, streaking flames behind them, looked awesome against the evening sky.
This week, we were treated to something very special to my heart, before the battle commenced on the track. Positioned at the front of the about to be snarling pack was the #3 Chevrolet, with car owner Richard Childress at the wheel. When Carmen Electra gave a command to start the engine of that car alone, it roared to life amidst a hushed silence, and then pandemonium broke out in the stands. Richard had said not to be sad, but to remember the great times and be happy that we had them. That proved to be impossible, given the fact that we could see Richard in the car, wiping away his own tears.
When that car pulled out onto the track to lead the rest for four pace laps, the crowd of 160,000 was on its feet and cheering. Flash bulbs going off everywhere made the stands resemble the Milky Way, and it seemed that everyone was waving three fingers in the familiar Dale Earnhardt salute. After being joined at the front for a lap by Jeff Gordon, the active driver participating in the Victory Lap salute to Winston, Richard took the car to the start-finish line, spun it around and gave us one heck of a smoke show. I suspect that lessons from Harvick may have been involved there. J
When it was time to go racing, it was Friday Ryan on the pole (Of course) with Flameboy on the outside. That Rainbow team must have run out of money, because instead of flames the car appeared to be sporting a hood done in primer grey. Go back to the flames!
At the drop of the green rag, it was the New Man out to the lead, which he held for 17 laps. Then the other half of the sophomore class, Jeffy’s Mini-me, passed for the lead and behind him was Dollar Biyull, coming fast. By lap 23, Mini had put a lap on Can’t Cope’s ice cream truck and nine laps later Cope pulled it into the lounge for an extended stay.
Somewhere near lap 60, the gang started trickling into the bar for beer and tires. One of the first to order up was Flameboy, and the last to join the party were the Bounty Hunter and Steve Park-it. When all had been served, it was still Mini-me in the lead, followed by Stewpot, Dollar Bill and the car without the flames.
At lap 87, everyone got a second chance for a Bud break when the Busch League kid spun his Sharpie and lost a lap before getting it headed in the right direction. NASCAR issued an invitation to the blue deuce to come back for another round, since he’d left so hastily after the first one, and the One LAP UP (One Lucky Arse PUP) was Sterling Silver. The restart on lap 95 showed Jeffy’s Mini-me still on the point, with Stewpot, Bobby Lobotomy, Dollar Biyull and Mutt Kennel in tow, and only 19 cars still on the lead lap.
After that, things quieted down considerably and they got into that old “middle of a long race” rhythm, with most just circling the track. Around lap 110 and beyond, there was a good dog-fight going on between Mutt Kennel and Kreatin’ Havoc, who are first and second in points right now. Havoc got the best of that battle, but the war is far from over. Some twenty laps later, The Home Depot Rolling Hardware Store took over the lead. We’d see a lot of that throughout the evening.
Another round of green flag beer breaks began around lap 149, and they had barely gotten back to serious circling when at lap 161, the Candy Man and Mule Skinner came to a meeting of fenders on the track. Each, of course, blamed the other, and when it was over, Mule Skinner took the Army of One to the lounge while the Candy Man soldiered on. Only some of the boys from the back room stopped for a quickie under that caution, since most had just had refreshments. The One LAP UP once again went to the Silver Bullet, who obviously hadn’t known what to do with the last one. Somewhere on that break, Steve Park-it went to join Mule Skinner in the lounge for a bit. At the restart, it was still the Home Depot Demon leading Dollar Biyull, the Bounty Hunter, Flyin’ Ryan and Jiminy McCricket.
The gang had just gotten back to racing when the yellow flew again at lap 169. This time it was Robber Gordon striking the wall in Cingular fashion and retiring to the lounge for repairs. The ensuing Miller Time gave everyone a good laugh, as Jeffy’s Mini-me was the only one to drive into the bar. Now, there’s nothing funny about that until you consider the fact that he was the only one on pit road and still managed to miss his bar stool. Where I come from, they call that a brain-fart. The One LAP UP award went to Sniffles (Yep, the same one who had won by 12 seconds earlier in the day). The only change in the running order was that his adventures on pit road put Mini-me in seventeenth instead of second place.
Moving right along to lap 205, (You didn’t miss anything) we saw the Candy Man involved in another altercation that he claimed wasn’t his fault, this time with Toad Bodiddley. He stuffed the nose of that bag of candy right up the exhaust pipe of the Coast Guard car and got the desired results when Toad got loose and spun out. They might both have still been okay, but Candy Man didn’t duck low enough and caught the rear fender of Toad’s car on his way by. That resulted in an even bigger spin for Bodiddley and a disastrous trip for the Candy Man, splattering M&Ms all over the wall. That would be good enough for last place at the end of the evening.
The man in the stilt house was forced to go to work once more, and the recipient of the One LAP UP was Germy Mayfield. It was Coors and tires for everyone, and when they got back to the fray, it was the Awesome One leading Stewpot, the Bounty Hunter, Rocket Ryan and the Bud Stud.
At lap 221, Casey Smeared his engine and retired to the lounge to keep the Candy Man company. All the rest of the rolling wounded were back on the track at that time, but one wouldn’t be for long. At lap 232, the final caution of the evening waved when Curtains Busch hit the wall and flattened a Goodyear. No one had the good manners to let him get to the bar, so he had to make another lap. Before he got that done, the flat tire managed to beat the fender right off the car and that set up another meeting with the wall. His Sharpie wasn’t looking too sharp about that time and he retired to the lounge, to fight another day. The final winner of the One LAP UP was Ricochet Craven. The whole gang headed in for a leisurely Bud break, and danged if Crusty Rusty didn’t get another invitation to return to the bar. That lad needs to put his right foot on a diet!
They turned a few more circles, with the Home Depot Demon still leading the rest. Flyin’ Ryan reported that he was nursing a vibration, and at lap 268, his chief Pit Bull decided that they were within the beer window and brought him in for four tires and a cold one. It was great to be at a track where new tires were faster than old ones. That’s the way it was when I was a young lass. The Rolling Phone Booth just sliced through the field like a hot knife through butter, and by the time all the rest had stopped at the bar the Rocket Man was about eight seconds ahead of Stewpot, with 36 laps yet to be run.
Ah, but what goes around, comes around, and now it was Stewpot with the new tires and the New Man with older ones. Within 12 laps, that lead was down to 1.6 seconds and closing. At lap 313, Cow Patty took the toilet paper car to the lounge, minus an engine. As the laps rolled by, the battle up front was becoming intense. By lap 321, there was only .2 of a second between those first two cars. Flyin’ Ryan fought his best fight, but with seven laps to go, the lead went to the Home Depot Demon. That was the way they would cross the finish line. Behind Stewpot and Flyin’ Ryan, it was Jeffy’s Mini-me, the Awesome One, the car without the flames, Bobby Lobotomy and the car with the star.
To the delight of the fans in the stands, Stewpot ripped up major sections of Humpy’s landscaping. After that, we were treated to a major smoke show from Smoke.
On a scale of one to ten, I’d give this race a nine. (One has to leave room for something like that championship deciding race at Atlanta in 1992) The tires behaved predictably for a change and gas mileage had absolutely nothing to do with the outcome. We’ve seen far too many races lately that only rate a two or three. Besides, there is some sort of poetic justice in seeing Home Depot victorious at a track they call Lowe’s.
There is one last thing to touch on here. I understand that those of you watching the race on NBC (Nauseatingly Bad Coverage) never got to see the Victory Lane sponsor plugs Saturday night unless you stayed up for Speed News on SPEED. If you’d like to share your feelings about that with NBC, you can drop them a line here:
That’s exactly the way it was at Charlotte on Saturday night under the lights. Would I lie to you?
My thoughts, prayers and deep concern are all with IRL driver Kenny Brack, who was seriously injured in a horrifying crash at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. Get well soon Kenny, the world is pulling for you!
Post-script: Kenny Brack came back to race one more time in the IRL, in the Indianapolis 500, 2005. Kenny fell out with suspension problems, finished 26th and retired… almost. He came out of retirement to win a gold medal in Rally car racing in the 2009 X-Games. ~ PK
And so we leave our Lady for today and move along to our Classic Country Closeout, which today will feature an all-girl cast, in keeping with the all-girl effort to promote breast cancer awareness all across America. To those men and boys who join us in that effort, you have our thanks and gratitude. I almost said “undying”, but were that the case, there would be no need for this annual October plea.
First up today is my favorite offering from Dolly Parton. “Love is Like a Butterfly” was not one of her biggest hits, but it’s always been the one I loved best. This offering also has a beautiful video accompanying it. Please enjoy:
Next we’ll hear from Jean Shepard, once again singing one of my all-time favorites. This one is from her “Beautiful Lies” album, one of the first I ever owned. Please enjoy Jean as she sings, “You’re Calling Me Sweetheart Again.”
Next up is the Singing Rage, Miss Patti Page, doing one of her oldest. This one, from 1951, is “Mockingbird Hill.” Just hum along to this beautiful and happiest of happy songs.
And finally, we have a lovely song from the lovely voice of Patsy Cline, a lady without whom any Country collection would be incomplete. Close your eyes and be carried away by Patsy’s one of a kind voice as she sings, “Sweet Dreams.”
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!