Rumor Mill

MONTE DUTTON: MY ELUSIVE EASTER DREAMS

 

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Happy Easter, everyone!

In a way, an open Easter is sort of the last vestige of the old NASCAR ways. Once the Lords of Daytona Beach held Mother’s Day open, too, reasoning that moms would be disgruntled if daddies hustled off the young’uns to some track.

“We’ll all go, Ruth Ann. It’ll be fun.”

Then the Lords took Labor Day away from Darlington, plugged the Granddaddy of Them All in the night before Mother’s Day – you’ll take it and you’ll smile! – and, against all odds and the Lords’ secret wishes, Darlington not only made Mother’s Day a success, it regained control of Labor Day.

Meanwhile, we get the opportunity to tell our kids about how Jesus was resurrected and, as a result, bunny rabbits get to lay eggs.

Christ is risen! Sammy took my egg! I saw it first!

Peter Cottontail is hopping down the bunny trail even as we speak. Hippity, hoppity, Easter’s on its way. The only race is between Peter, the hare, and a tortoise who may or may not elect to take two tires when the hare is changing all four.

Oh, wait. That’s a separate tale. With a fluffy tail.

All kidding aside – and my life is predicated on the notion that Jesus has a sense of humor – it will be nice to settle down with loved ones and peacefully watch the hockey playoffs.

It would be a nice time to read a book. A racing book, perhaps. Not another one of those coffee-table books with lots of color pictures. A novel, perhaps, one where the ruling body of stock car racing is called FASCAR and the most famous track is in Pompano Beach.

Hmm.

As a kid, my father’s dream was for me to be a cowboy. My dream was to be a race-car driver. In retrospect, they were both a bit fanciful.

I’d to Hal Hamrick describe the NASCAR race from North Wilkesboro on the Universal Racing Network. Darlington had its own network. The anchor was otherwise the weatherman on WIS-TV in Columbia.

Petty slips high. Pearson to the inside! While they battle, Timmonsville’s Cale Yarborough guns the Kar-Kare Chevrolet past Donnie Allison into third!

When Hamrick, or Ken Squier, or Bob Montgomery, or the weatherman at Channel 10, turned it over to one of the turn reporters, the static in the radio increased.

Huuurrrrhhhhhh. Crash in turn two! Henley Gray and Sam McQuagg get into each other! Brrrppp. Frank Warren slips by on the apron! Oh, Bunky Blackburn … wooeeeiii … unable to avoid McQuagg’s spinning Dodge, and the field is under caution. Back to the eye in the sky! Rrrrr, kurr, krrrr…

I remember a community Easter Egg Hunt at the old Cavalier Ballpark. I knew that one of the eggs had a certificate for a go-kart from Cox Home & Auto. I wanted that go-kart twice as much because I wasn’t old enough to care much about girls yet.

I still remember who won it. His picture was in The Clinton Chronicle.

I never got a go-kart, though I rode my brother’s trail bike quite a bit. Mainly I was left to race George Cunningham around and around the skating rink in the Clinton Mills village on our fancy new three-speed bikes. You think 500 miles drags? You should see a match race for 50 laps around a flat concrete rink. I once had George by three laps, and he wrecked me. I had to take the Western Flyer behind the imaginary wall for repairs. It cost me in points.

I never became a cowboy, either. I turned out to be “just some writer staring at the wall,” in Jerry Jeff Walker’s words.

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