MONTE DUTTON: BACK AT THE CIRCUS
I’m back. Home. Home sweet home. I got home from Charlotte Motor Speedway at five in the morning. I was reverent on Memorial Day. It may have been because I was tired, though I’d like to think not.
The return to a NASCAR track was pleasant, late-night barrels of truck-stop coffee notwithstanding.
I’ve been reading about everything else that happened in the world while I was away. The Indianapolis 500, won by Takuma Sato, overshadowed the object of my endeavors. Indy had Fernando Alonso’s brave performance, Scott Dixon’s frightening crash and an upset victory for the second straight year.
I’m grateful that the president took some time off from tweeting.
No. 3 won the Coca-Cola 600. “Auuuustinnnnn!” is a little more awkward than “Daaaaale!” but for the memory of Dale Earnhardt, not to mention Junior Johnson and Buddy Baker, it was heartwarming. Austin now his own niche in the world of Dillons. Move over Matt (western character or actor), Bob (Dylan, not Dillon), Dylan (not Dillon) Thomas, McDermott and all the characters in soap operas and romance novels.
“Oh, Dylan, I love you!” “And I, you, Penelope!”
Instead, it was, “Go, you Austin Dillon, you!”
What wasn’t unexpected was Kyle Busch sulling up after finishing second. I don’t dislike Kyle Busch. I admire his driving style. I appreciate that he isn’t a fake. It’s just that when he doesn’t get his way, the brat comes out. It’s easy to display grace when things go a man’s way. What reveals his character is how he responds to adversity.
I’ve pondered this matter for years, and what I’ve concluded is that many athletes are afraid that, if they don’t show their tails, if they don’t bite people’s heads off, snarl, throw things, etc., it means they don’t want it badly enough. It’s almost an ultimate insecurity. They are afraid of class.
When I went to Charlotte, for the first time there since October 2012 and the first track anywhere since the month that followed, I really didn’t know how I would, uh, take it. I knew there would be friends there whom I would visit via a medium more substantial than tweets, emails and text messages. When they said, “Good to see you,” “see” was a meaningful word. It seems more substantial than, “Good to have texted you.”
As Carol Burnett never sang, “I’m so glad we had this snapchat together / Just to spread a meme and hurt someone I didn’t know / We get started and then, before you know it / A lifelong friend has become a bitter foe.”
I upheld my solemn vow of 2013. I said I’d go back when there was money to pay the way. More than once, I observed that everyone seemed to want me back except anyone who could do something about it.
What I loved was the freedom of writing about it any way I wanted. I made observations, strung them together, moved them around, added a phrase here and removed one there, and tried to make them make sense. A couple readers couldn’t find any, but most who responded enjoyed it. I expect what most appreciated was the unconventional nature of my writing, left alone by assignment editors and what the wire moved. Maybe it’s just what happens when a novelist is turned loose at a sporting event.
Fortunately, I had been at this one many times before. I never stopped loving racing. I just stopped going. I’ve heard of others.