MONTE DUTTON – GOOD, CLEAN FUN
Maybe I’ll go see a ballgame. Maybe I’ll write a song. NASCAR is off this week.
Not that racing is off the docket. Why, I went to the 38th annual Laurens County Shrine Race on Tuesday night at the local dirt track. I enjoyed the people more than the racing. Sometimes that was true when I traveled all over the country. I don’t get much of the people on TV. I liked to interact with fans in their natural habitat.
One year, at the end of a long, hot Talladega day, I joined an old high school football teammate in the infield, there to play my guitar, have a couple beers and reminisce about the good old days. One of the nearby campers had brought a karaoke machine. He had a trophy wife – or maybe it was a trophy girlfriend – and she could not carry a tune if it had handles. The way he praised her, you’d have thought she was Barbra Streisand.
It got progressively funnier. The beers may have had something to do with it. I think I may have called her Babwa Wawa, but not loudly. She looked a little like Dolly Parton and sounded a little like Lou-Ann Poovie, Gomer Pyle’s girlfriend.
Wayul, ak-shoo-uh-ly, Gomuh …
For all you youthful fans out there, check Wikipedia.
In the glory days of Bristol, 165,000 fans packed the grandstands, and 10,000 more who couldn’t get tickets just came to the track to party in the campgrounds. After the night races, where deadlines could not possibly be more oppressive, a bunch of us wound down the stress in press parking, waiting for the traffic to clear out. Mojo Nixon, a tough act to follow, and I swapped my guitar back and forth. A track official took an SUV load out on the track for 2 a.m. hot laps. Track president Jeff Byrd, a great guy whose loss was much lamented, came by one night and asked me to play some Jerry Jeff Walker, a request I gleefully obliged.
In the twilight of my 20-year run, my peers got more respectable, or perhaps I got old and was not included in their wildness. Age makes fun seem eccentric, I reckon. It’s all I can figure.
I guess the fans and the media changed the same way NASCAR did. To paraphrase Mick Jagger, they’re so respectable now.