July 05, 2008

Firecracker 50

Independence Day at the Fairgrounds
I went to the July 4th races at the Clay County Fairgrounds in Spencer last night. I try to go once a year and I missed last year. Nothing like watching seventeen 700 hp sprint cars to give your eardrums a workout. The feature event was the WDRL Late Model Series which was won by Chad Simpson. It was a thrill watching him drift the outer edges of the turns and pull away from the competition every time. One hundred times he had to do that. One mistake and he would have been another also-ran.

Two racers were ejected for "extra-curricular" activities, a 2300 lb fist fight at 80 mph. The crowd enjoyed that. Not a fancy group of people. For a lot of them some sacrifices had to be made to come up with the $22.00; that's how much it meant to them. After the warm up laps were completed the announcer said, "Ladies and gentlemen at this time we ask you to all stand for the National Anthem as we celebrate the birth of this great nation and all of its freedoms." The crowd all stood, the men removed their hats and the kids shut up and stood still for it.

Chad Simpson (in red) and his car
After the races I went over to the pits to mingle and got a picture of Chad and his Late Model winner. Then it was time to get ready for the fireworks. A new flagpole was being dedicated at the fairgrounds. Representatives from the American Legion, VFW, and local volunteers carried flags from each military branch plus a number of American flags, each one representing a recently deceased local veteran. The picture at the top of the post shows the ceremony.

Dirt track drivers don't need much imagination to empathize with soldiers. Full metal body slams, dusty turns that limit your vision to zero before you pull out of them, and always the risk of collision and injury. Fire, steel and gasoline. Smoke, oil and rubber. If you're good and luck is with you there'll be a taste of glory waiting. Otherwise there's late nights working on the car and another chance next week if you don't get rained out.

Hope you had a noisy Fourth of July

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