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Back on Thanksgiving 2012, I was thinking how I’d like to cut back and concentrate more on writing fiction.

Someone? Anyone? Bueller?

“Uh, watch what you ask for ‘cause you might just get it?”


I was thinking about it. Maybe talking about it a little. I wasn’t actually going to do it. I wasn’t going to take that leap of faith. I didn’t have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. It was a gambler and a banker. The gambler won by default.

On January 4, 2013, I found out that January 4, 2013, was my final day after 16-1/2 years at the same daily newspaper. The new corporate owners eliminated my job, rather abruptly from my point of view.

I am never going to let that go.

Flash forward to the present. Book writers like scene changes.

I used to be as indigenous to race tracks as mule deer to the Rockies. I am about to return to my habitat for the first time in about four years, six months.

I’ll be the most curious man at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

What has changed? What hasn’t? How many people I know are gone? How many people I don’t know are there?

Where in hell’s the media parking? I bet it’s not closer.

I doubt it’s going to be “when Monte comes marching home again, hurrah, hurrah.” More like “who’s the old-timer?”

All these young drivers … I’m going to be searching diligently for personality hidden among the perceptions from afar. On TV, it seems like their names all begin with “C” (Chase, Cody, Cade, Cullen, not a Calvin in the bunch) or “J” (Jody, Justin, Jared, Jason, Jeremy, not so many Jameses). Surely distinctiveness is there, buried beneath the sponsor names and the answers that have nothing to do with the questions.

They’re race-car drivers! Thoroughly dangerous men! Linked by temperament with fighter pilots, astronauts, crop dusters, mountain climbers, and jockeys!

Gosh. What a void I must fill, what with the departure of Gordon, Stewart, Edwards and, soon, Junior. All distinctive. All original. All blessed with truly respectable names: Jeff, Tony, Carl and Dale.

If I spent five more years at home, I’d probably return to have Xarelto Phillips on the pole, lined up next to Antivia Moriarty.

They won’t need a personality by then. The names will be enough.