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My Dirty Little Secret: NASCAR

October 16, 2009

Yes, that’s right – NASCAR. Go fast; turn left. Redneck Racing. When I walk out of the office building I work in, I can clearly see the new NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte. And they just announced the first class of inductees being enshrined there next year. Growing up, my birthday present usually involved going to a NASCAR race. Not just any race, though. Being born at the end of May gives me the benefit of celebrating every year on Memorial weekend. That’s right – the Coca Cola 600. It’s part of the trifecta of big NASCAR races: Daytona, Taladega, and the 600. Loud, fast cars flying by in the hot sun and occasionally blowing up right in front of you – any kid’s dream birthday, right?

Of course, as an adult, weekend race excitement gave way to naps, lulled to sleep by the monotone of revving engines as they pass on the living room TV. The thrill of racing isn’t gone, but circle and oval track racing just doesn’t hold the appeal it once did. Over the years, I’ve owned at least a dozen hot rods (Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs, Firebirds, etc.), and even raced pro-am at the Barber’s Point drag strip in Hawaii (holla!). I still enjoy getting out on the twisty back roads of Union County every now and then and just letting my foot sink to the floor. I think that actually touches on the real reason I love NASCAR (in secret or otherwise).

The origins of NASCAR are a mix of the Dukes of Hazzard and Bonnie & Clyde. Illegal alcohol smuggling, or “runnin’ ‘shine” started in the 1930’s and North and South Carolina have a rich history of exactly that. In fact, TV’s Hazzard County is based on ‘shine runners right here in the Union County border area between the Carolinas. Just this month, a man was arrested in the North Carolina mountains for distilling hundreds of gallons of moonshine for sale. I wonder if he needs a delivery boy?

Simply put, I’m no longer a fan of the NASCAR industry that has sprung up, but I’ll forever be tied to its roots. I’d just like to turn right every now and then.

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