Friday, September 08, 2006
Out of the blue my grandparents and I got free tickets to the Busch Series of NASCAR at Richmond International Raceway tonight. The track was built by Hugh Hawthorne, a family friend of whom I'll have to post one day.
The evening kicked off with qualifying for the Nextel Cup race, which is the main event and held tomorrow (Sat.). Cheers went up for local hero Denny Hamlin taking pole position. It struck me that this was what American motorsport is all about: believing that the success of a local driver somehow compensates for the huge display of laziness and gluttony put on by the spectators. This was backed up by the following pre-race events.
First came the parade lap, in which the drivers sit atop corvette convertables and wave to the crowd. I thought it was a nice touch, except that at the only time the drivers can actually see and hear the crowd's support, no-one shows any interest!
Next, a local baptist minister offered the 'invocation' -- a prayer for safety during the race, and victory for America's armed forces! I recall something along the lines of, 'thank you Lord for loving us so much and letting us shoot arabs'... A military band then played the National Anthem, concluding with a fly-past by two combat helicopters. Again, the impression I got was that as long as American Boys are doing the business with assault rifles somewhere in the world, then that excuses the American people of acting as deplorable, unattractive morons.
Of course, I exaggerate, generalise, and generally endulge in the kind of writing that's bound to get me in trouble. I guess my tolerance of the culture is beginning to to strained! After a while, though, the despair turns to acceptance. Let's be honest, if we could live like this, we would, wouldn't we? I think one of the reasons Brits are so offended by Americana is that it is a window into our own souls. But damn those Yanks for just throwing all that greed, hatred and ignorance into the open, then having the balls to stand there and act *proud* of it!
NASCAR ain't bad though. Ok, so the cars don't have the scream of an F1 engine, nor the raw, on edge crackle of a BTCC car, and of course they're nothing compared with the sound of a Ferrari or Aston Martin GT car. The track at Richmond is a short-track, at five-eigthths of a mile. It makes me laugh that the septics have built a kilometre long track, without even knowing what a km is! Whenever a car spins off they throw a caution for about five laps, so everyone dives in for a pit stop. So, yeah. Actually NASCAR is lame -- but you all knew that!