NASCAR, Dad’s Car and My Car

“My frame was not hidden from you . . .”   [Psalm 139:15a ESV]

One “out of the box” experience I took in last week was the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  One of my nephews exclaimed, “I didn’t know you were into NASCAR!” “I’m not.”  Or at least I wasn’t.  I learned a lot about stock car racing which most of you probably already know.  Stock car racing evolved from the days of Prohibition when moonshiners endeavored to outrun the revenuers with their souped-up cars bought from the common stock of dealerships.   Later, the 1940 Ford Coupe with a flathead V-8 engine became popular with the moonshiners racing to outrun the authorities.  My dad’s first automobile was a 1940 Ford . . .

The exhibits were fascinating but what I really wanted to experience was my hands gripping the wheel of a NASCAR Simulator Car.  My AAA card promised me a free race but I had to qualify by demonstrating my ability to handle the customized gear shift and, of course, the high-powered performance engine.  Didn’t go well.  I ran my car into the wall, crashing and burning – more than once.  Finally, I qualified, driving two laps on the Loudon, NH track with nary a scratch.  I was ready for the big time.

After the attendant verified my qualification to sit in a NASCAR Simulator Car, my five competitors and I chose our road warrior vehicles and climbed into our seats.  A voice instructed us to follow the Pace Car for the first lap before accelerating to race track speed.  “Gentlemen, start your engines!”  We were off! But in a just a matter of two or three seconds, probably less, I managed to rear end the Pace Car sending it and me spinning out of control.  I hit the wall – hard!

One more off track escapade like that and I’d be disqualified.  How humiliating that would be!  With the reset I managed to maintain some semblance of control and by the second of six laps held second place.  By race’s end everyone was left behind, gasping on my exhaust fumes (simulated).  An online trophy photo (purchase declined) exists somewhere in cyber-space as proof but I do hold paperwork as corroborating evidence.  Studying the stat sheet later I realized that none of my competitors completed more than four laps of the flat oval route.  I’m wondering, “Did I cause any of them to crash and burn in my wake with “wreckless” driving?”

This may be a non-sequitur but I think not.  Last Wednesday I came up behind a late model white Lexus sedan on I-85 in Greensboro.  As you might expect, the exterior was in pristine condition.  What I didn’t expect to see was the vehicle traveling nearly sideways down the highway.  Obviously the vehicle had been involved in a collision.  The exterior was in shiny showroom shape but the interior frame had never been restored to proper alignment.  That raises all sorts of questions.  Did the owner/operator know that his car was out of alignment?  If he did know, did he care?  Did anyone following care enough to advise him to get it checked out and repaired?  Was any help offered beyond that?  Or did the vehicle simply need to be sent to the junk yard – the fate of my dad’s 1970 Ford Galaxy 500?  The ’40 Ford? Probably still out-running the revenuers.