As part of our continued quest to pursue debauchery until it runs out of gas and surrenders, haplessly, to our heroics, we made a snap decision to go to the races yesterday.
Those of you who follow my peculiarities might recall the mentioning of motorsports from time to time. Specifically NASCAR, such as described in this entry.
But this was not quite the same. This was Indy Racing League, the sleek and arguably more sexy, cigar shaped cars that you see screaming around in Europe and elsewhere. They go fast, God do they go fast. I'm used to watching fast laps at the Richmond track we went to yesterday, but these guys (and a girl, too) just cook.
I don't know what I was expecting, a more sedate or redneck free crowd or something. Straw hats with peonies attached, slacks and polo shirts, summer dresses and canvas sandals. Gin and tonics, sunglasses by Ralph Lauren.
Nope. The sport might have an international flavor, but the track is pure down-home, chicken and biscuits with a Coors Lite. While wearing a go-to-hell T-shirt and no socks.
I'm kidding about the biscuits. Nachos and jalopenos, perhaps.
At any rate, we followed the RV owned and (maniacally) operated by Stu's father-in-law up to the track, a trip of about 2 hours, with the following ensemble.
Stu and Patty: Corporate partner and his wife, of course. Stu gave me the grim assessment before we even left the driveway. "There's no beer in the RV, I can't smoke a cigar in there, and the PMS level is running a close second to the temperature. You sure you don't have enough room for me in your car?"
I assured him that, after having packed all of the requisite racing gear and assorted family members in the Expedition, that I did not. I wasn't so unkind as to not offer him a cold one, though.
The Outfoxed clan: Consisting of me, Ally, Maggie and Ben, the sibling teenaged wonder duo. My third one Beth is out in Colorado blasting softballs into the sky. And mightily pissed that she missed this trip, from what I hear.
Herman and Alice: Patty's mom and step dad. In-laws to Stu, natch. Having retired from a couple of civil service jobs and the Navy, and after being on the receiving end of family money and a couple of lucky real estate deals, Herman at 65 years of age considers himself a retired patriarch whose demands should be fulfilled by all those within earshot, chiefly those who wish to share in his estate. I'm not sure the term insufferable boor is quite adequate here, I'm not saying that he's entirely without humor, but it's the sort of humor that is always tempered by a reminder of how much money he has and how he is holding it over his adult children. Insanely large beer belly affixed to stumpy legs and crowned by a head that's bigger than a beachball. Alice is a sweet woman, but tends to be a whiner when presented with the most sedentary tasks.
Big Bill: Who drove up later in the day with his 16 year old son (uh, Little Bill), is the other child of Herman and Alice. If you can apply "child" to someone who tips out at just under 400 pounds. He's a good-hearted lad and we always have a ball at these things. Just watching him plough through a pot of crab legs is enough entertainment to last a summer evening.
It's a family thing, and such is the delight of families everywhere that somewhere in the mix there are personalities and the inevitable clashes and long-not-forgotten twists and turns. On arrival at the track, Herman ensconced himself in a lawn chair that groaned beneath the onslaught of too much good living, swiveled left and right and began to make himself comfortable.
"Hey Patty, fetch me a beer. Hey Stu, why don't you fire up the grill? Hey Outfoxed, there's mud on the tire of your car, you ought to get yourself a bucket and clean that up. Hey Alice, you could make yourself useful and get me some bug spray and sunscreen. Hey Big Bill, you did pack the pickle relish didn't you? Geez, do I have to do everything myself?"
Okay, it wasn't that bad, but you get the idea.
Actually it probably was that bad. Maybe even worse. The sad part of it is watching the hop-to-it nature of his wife, daughter, son-in-law and son who giggle at his commands as if there were humor to be found and comply with his every wish.
Me, I generally ignore it. The last thing I need is a would be king giving me large amounts of gastric pain. So I sit, bemused, and occasionally make a snide comment to Ally about emperor's without clothes.
That is, when I'm not checking out her long, tanned legs in those denim shorts. Slurp.
Where was I? Oh yeah, we were at an Indy race. We sat in the hot sun on even hotter metal bleachers and watched and hollered and drank and ate. It specifically was not a NASCAR crowd, no hundred thousand spectators this. Maybe forty thousand, which made it comfortable for sitting and moving about and not standing too long in bathroom lines. And the day cooled down and the big main event race started and Ally was on her feet, leaning toward the lead car, and when it would whoosh by in a screaming, feel it in your bones thunderous rush, she'd lean with the car and push it down the track with two outstretched palms, smiling and swaying with the fun of it all. There was the smell of racing fuel, the Italian sausage vendor under the stands, the thickness of air on a summer night in the South. There were girls in flip-flops with clothing as revealing as they dared, men without shirts roaring soundlessly as the pack flashed by on hot asphalt.
There was Ben, sitting next to me and sharing my scanner/radio with headsets, deciding to listen in on Sarah Foster (the lone female driver) and her pit crew. The oddness of hearing a female voice on the air, a little quavering at times as she gassed her car up to 160 mph on a straightaway. The sorta cute way she substituted a crinkly sounding "Kinko" in place of the more familiar "10-4", as an acknowledgement over the radio. Ben and I ultimately sad, when she spun out in turn four, trying to improve her position late in the race. She was doing so well, too.
An exciting finish, a pass with 3 laps left, and the shocking way that the cacophony of engine noise just stopped as the racers coasted to the pits and shut down their motors. The tinny noise of a cheering crowd, almost inaudible after the sonic booms of the previous couple of hours.
Trooping back to the RV, with coolers much lighter than they had been on the way in. Stu on the Weber, steadily making cow-flesh palatable. Maggie (16) and Little Bill (16)-making moon faces at each other in the way that only those who are young (16) and just-met can do. German potato salad and Big Bill were having a conversation, and a one-sided one at that. The girls, the wives, sun-baked and put to drowsiness on folding camp chairs, an after race martini in hand.
Outfoxed enjoys all this.
I should've taken more pictures to share, but sometimes the imagination and the memories are enough. It makes the day more legendary, and gives license to the words to describe it all.
But that Herman, holy smokes. I'll bet he's still wondering who hid his favorite and oft-demanded can cushie. You know, the foam things you stick a cold beverage in. I'll bet he was royally steamed.
My little rebellions. You gotta love 'em.
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