MONTE DUTTON – THE INCREDIBLE VARIETY OF ROAD COURSES
One of more amusing personal characteristics of young drivers – and, I trust, Kurt Busch – is making ridiculous comparisons.
As I was watching the simulation of modern drivers racing at long-closed North Wilkesboro Speedway, I wondered what they’d say about the glorious anachronism of the Brushy Mountains.
I’m still wondering. I checked email and only a transcript of race winner Denny Hamlin’s remarks had been sent me, and most of the questions asked Hamlin – I assume there may have been some form of interview because it was different from what he said on TV – were about such red-hot North Wilkesboro topics as social distancing and other forms of pandemic life.
Over the years, I’ve head the young, the brash, the desperate to get their words in a blog, opine all sorts of far-fetched declarations.
One is to weirdly compare a short track to a road course. North Wilkesboro Speedway, both real and created by the modern-day Wizards of Oz, does not sit on level ground. When it was built in the 1940s, architects were not commonly seen as necessary. I’m sure some apple-cheeked lad said to someone, “In a way, it’s like Road America.”
The entourage nods in wonderment. Even the jaded media takes a few moments to absorb the absurdity of what has just been said.
Pocono has an extra turn and the drivers are allowed to change gears there again … I think. So … it’s like a road course. Martinsville has hairpin curves, only, in fact, hairpin curves. Ah, yeah, a veritable road course. Phoenix has a crook that shapes it like a football with a seam busting on one side. Indy? Four turns.
It’s a bit like hearing John Wayne (or Jeff Bridges) look at Kim Darby (or Hailee Steinfeld) swimming the river on her Arkansas pony in True Grit and say, “By God, she reminds me of me.”
Now the high-tech play racing is over, and I’m not calling it play racing because I didn’t like it – I did, a little – but because it is. Not only am I excited that real racing begins anew and at a rapid rate, but because it is being run in front of empty grandstands at Darlington Raceway, my favorite track.
Here in upstate South Carolina, Darlington is the only place left where I hear people say “you going to the race?” any more. I have one friend left who attends 6-8 races a year. Or maybe a lot more people used to lie to me about it when I was out on traveling circus.
Now they can’t even go. Of course, I’m mostly holed up at the house, so I couldn’t hear them.
However, since Darlington is egg-shaped (see “architects, unnecessary” above), I’m sure someone will compare it to a road course.
The fall-off in interest is overstated by local conversation. Fans have grown accustomed to watching it on TV. I hope the coming weeks do not accelerate this habit, but I’d rather see it real in any form at this point.
How many things have we seen in the past two months that we’d never see?
Folks have been makings lots of adjustments.