We're watching car races, sitting on wobbly metal bleachers at the
Golden Isle Speedway in a town called Waynesville, GA.
I understand little about qualifying rounds, heats, stock cars, late-
model cars and the like. But I'm loving the action.
Smokers surround me. The man on my left smokes. The woman on my right
smokes. And the man behind me smokes. I'm a reformed smoker. The worst
kind. I can't stand the smell and usually gag or get up and move.
But initially, I neither gag nor leave because when the cars zoom
round and round, I can't smell the cigarettes. Because once the cars
hit the track, it's exhaust, not cigarette smoke, that envelopes me.
Exhaust mixed with burning rubber and dust billows off the track and
coats me. My teeth are gritty. The air is visible.
I'm having a great time. Go figure.
In addition to the air pollution, there's noise pollution. As the cars
zoom round and round, their engines scream at varying degrees of
insanity. And there's a pop and sizzle that explode like firecrackers.
If a car spins out, the track slows while emergency vehicles do their
sweep. But the noise intensifies as the drivers anxiously rev their
engines. Growl. Growl. Growl.
I look around. What a crowd. I enjoy watching them as much as watching
the race. Maybe even more.
Lots of dads brought their sons. You can tell, because the kids are
younger versions of the older guys, in dress, stature and, obviously,
Whole families have made this their night out. They walk in dragging
coolers filled with stuff to eat and drink, then have their kids haul
the heavy load up the wobbly risers. (Sit high, see more.)
Some people show little interest. A woman behind me, to my left, wears
a camouflage jacket to match her husband's. But she doesn't match his
interest in the race. She reads a book instead. A steady stream of
teens and pre-teens pay more attention to each other and the snack bar
than to the multiple heats warming the track.
A man to my left wears an orange shirt with screaming skulls and a
headwrap of black, red and white bones. He's with an older man in
denim, who's a pretty popular guy. Lots of people stop by to give him
a hug, holler up "Hey!" of just give him a wave.
Many of the women (large and small) wear cropped pants, showing off
tattoos on the sides of their legs, running from their ankles to their
knees They're hanging on to guys (also large and small) wearing cowboy
boots and T-shirts that used to fit better.
The absolute best are three little boys (shown) down to my right who
wear ear protectors and imitate the big boy's game behind them. They
play with their own miniature race cars on one of the wobbly benches.
Someone even spread a bit of red dirt on the seat to emulate a track.
They're having a great time. And so am I.