In case you missed it, I’ll get you updated. They ran a stock car race at Daytona Beach the other day, the crown jewel of NASCAR racing. Those tickets are costly stuff, and 200,000 people were there, to quote the generally accepted figure.
The Daytona 500, they call it, and it’s like playing the Super Bowl, or the World Series before the season starts. The cart before the horse, so to speak, which is beside the point. Two hundred thousand people were there, and they paid a price, not to mention the cost of getting there, and the jacked-up hotel rates.
The race is rocking along, punctuated only by the usual number of crashes and caution flags that pop up at these things. But then the yellow flag popped up, and soon was followed by the red. That means real trouble, and this was trouble, and that starts with “T” and that rhymes with “P”, and that stands for “pothole.”
Pothole?! Yes, at this cathedral of stock car racing, where NASCAR makes its bed, where Bill France made the average every-day car—so to speak—into a trillion-dollar merry-go-round. A pothole was discovered in the middle of the track, and the race had to be stopped. Then another pothole was discovered. What the heck is this, downtown Atlanta?
Now, I’ve been going to stock car races since NASCAR ran its first race, just outside Charlotte. It was a Sunday in June, the year was 1949. The track was dirt, plain, ordinary red clay dirt. No potholes there. The cars raised so much dust that I was covered in red from top to bottom and all parts in between, including my underwear. But no potholes. If there had been any potholes the race wouldn’t have been stopped. Potholes were mere bumps in the road in those days.
But in 2010, the world of stock car racing has reached such a peak of elegance? One of these racing cars today cost more than the whole track cost in 1949. Potholes! On a track two and a half miles long, centerpiece of NASCAR, the Taj Mahal of stock car racing? How embarrassing! Where do you go to get your money back?
I doubt you’ve heard the last of it yet. How in the name of Barney Oldfield did these knuckleheads try to run this bigtime classic race on a track that somebody hadn’t checked out for potholes? Atlanta, yeah, you expect them. They are the prime symbol of the Shirley Franklin regime. But the Daytona 500?