Monday, June 28, 2010

Steel City Drag

Yesterday afternoon we went to the Drag Races to watch the time trials for the June meeting.  The drag strip is about 8 minutes west out of town on the alluvial plain - to the north, east and west, hills rise shadowy and blue in the far distance but between the blue shadows the land is perfect for drag racing.The lineup of cars wasn't huge - only thirty or so vehicles, but there were an awful lot of different types - street cars, sedans, rebuilt hot rods, a couple of fair-dinkum drag racers and about 6 kinds of motorcycle - from a Kawaski Crotch Rocket to something that looked like a homebuilt cross between a dirt bike and a Harley.  There was a category called "Funny Car" -  I was expecting fiberglass hot dogs and fabulous paint jobs and was DEEPLY disappointed to learn that "funny car" is a technical term for a specific sort of car running on a specific sort of non-standard fuel. 
            The cars start their run with a wet-tire burnout to heat up the rear tires.  Particularly noisy smoking burnouts receive warm applause from the connoisseurs in the stands, then the lights go green and the cars go off like rockets.  I don't know how the drivers kept straight lines - in the queue behind the starting line they must have inhaled so much burned rubber its a wonder they could hit the accelerator on cue.
            But most did.  And then they'd come back and do it again.   And again.  Vrroom vroom Blat - Whhhhhaaaaaaaaaahhh POW - out comes the parachute.  The parachute isn't really needed, but it looks good.  Polite applause.  And the next one starts goes Vrrrroooom and then the next one and the next one and….
How many time can you watch a car drive 1/8 of a mile in a straight line?!!  I gave up on the cars and started people watching.             We'd done our best: I'd worn a black T-shirt with the words "kiss me" on the front and Mr Tabubil wore one with a silhouette of a Llama in a crosshair, but we were outshone by the gentleman in the black t-shirt with the words "The Boyfriend" and an arrow pointing to his face, and the words "The Legend" with an arrow pointing rather lower.
            Costume ran to amen beards and hoochie skirts, with Daisy Dukes on the younger women and heavy gold jewellery on the males too young to have cultivated the chest hair to go with it.  One woman was working a small gas fired BBQ.  Turning the chops and sausages with one hand, she dribbled cigarette ash with the other and desultorily hiked at her skirt - the waistband hung so low she showed off more plumbers-butt than most plumbers.             Aside from the fashion parade, it was a family show - small kids with Hotwheels cars climbing all over the fence between the spectators and the return lane and waiting for the big thrill: a wave from a driver puttering back toward the starting line.  The star of the afternoon was a fourteen year old girl from the Junior Drag Club, who clawed 84 mph out of a miniature drag racer so delicate it looked like it was made of matchsticks and was towed back to the pit by a motorized wheelchair.             The sun was hot and the flies were demented and the cars kept roaring, and about when I was bored absolutely rigid, a green saloon came roaring out of the start on one rear tire and the axle snapped clean off.  A pretty little prang!  Hurrah for wild excitement!   And reasonably soon after that the time trials were over and we could GO HOME.   I'm not nearly enough of a car freak to need three hours of it.  Mr Tabubil, at least, had a blast. 


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