RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Friday, March 21

S14: Closest Dirt Tracks to My Compound

So last Saturday morning was a warm one, and I was heading into work at this lady's house when I saw the Moore's Creek Diner parking lot, which is like a rundown blue collar cafe type place at the bottom of the hill coming into Charlottesville, and there were a couple of dirt track late models on trailers in the parking lot, which meant the track was open for testing for the first time.
Honestly, I can't defend something like Nascar, where a bunch of pussies with effeminate voices and close-cropped haircuts turn right constantly for three or four hours, with seventeen thousand logos on their clothes and car. Nascar has sort of morphed beyond it's traditional fanbase, and I'd say without Dale Earnhardt Jr. being around, that would be pretty obvious. It's more geared to bagel-eating cappucino drinkers in NYC and Las Vegas and the like nowadays, far from it's bootlegger roots. But fuck it, all things must grow, and unfortunately for most things, a key part to growing up is selling out. But fuck it, because if you are American, no matter where the fuck you are, you are most likely less than an hour away from a short track where local longhaired rednecks rule the low-dollar classes in piecemeal classics, while young hot shots with daddy's who own some sort of business that allows for leisure income battle in the late model classes that are the springboard for higher levels of racing. Basically to become a big-time driver, you have to start with someone who has lots of money to make you go fast as fuck at a young age, and then you have to drive well while going that fast. Without either part of that equation, you'll never wear a fireproof suit with seventeen thousand logos.
Anyways, I went to Chasin Racin's Race Track Locator and figured up the closest 14 dirt tracks to where I live, because dirt track racing, if you ever go see it, is a far superior form of viewable entertainment than watching dudes race on asphalt. Dirt is less forgiving, and the very fact that when you are going fast enough you actually have to turn the wheels the opposite direction of your natural inclination, to slide through curves more easily, makes it better alone. As the bumper sticker says, it's not racing if there ain't dirt in your beer. So here's the closest dirt tracks to my compound, in order of proximity, and I'm actually gonna make a half-assed attempt to go to all 14 this year, just for the fuck of it. I have three daughters now, and need every excuse to get out of the house on the weekend possible.
#1: Eastside Speedway (Waynesboro, VA) - Eastside Speedway would be my most local track, and I have at time, gone weekly for a whole month, just to sit and chill and enjoy the show. The track is sponsored by Coors, which has one of their big manufacturing plants nearby, yet there is no drinking in the grandstands, which usually means tons of raggedy looking dudes like myself make a beeline for the parking lot two or three times in between races. Or you pay for a pit pass and hide out over there with a six-pack cooler, but the view's not as great, although you're more likely to see a fistfight in the pits. Last year, in the next-to-highest class, where you don't need so much money to afford a car, this guy nicknamed the Flyin' Hippie, who was a 50-something dude with a grey ponytail and hillbilly beard, won like every week. When you win, you pull up in front of the grandstands on the dragstrip and do a little quick interview with the P.A. announcer and get your trophy and kiss a pretty girl and take a picture with 58 kids sitting on your car. It is still a family affair, and I am proud that my 9-year-old daughter is stoked to be excited to go with me sometimes. Although I'm gonna end up being really disappointed if she ends up being one of those slutty types hanging with the kid in the Metallica shirt with the little brother in the Undertaker shirt, both of them having variations on the redneck mohawk cut (aka the Travis Bickle), under the bleachers. I'd like my daughter to enjoy weird shit but not become too heavily immersed in any of it that it becomes an anchor. Well-rounded but high-minded, that's what I hope for my kids. Although they've already got one retard strike against them with my genetics.
#2: Natural Bridge Speedway (Natural Bridge, VA) - My wife's old boss used to race at Natural Bridge Speedway back in the '50s I think, and it's a wonderful dirt track nestled between mountain foothills where you can cop a squat on the grassy banks instead of just being forced into grandstands like at most tracks. Taking the family, a cooler full of dinner, spreading a blanket out, and watching cars run in circles through dried muck is quality Saturday night affair motherfucker. Natural Bridge, like Eastside, is also part of the Virginia Sprint series, which is those Sprint cars, which are the cracked-out speedy go-kart looking things with that weird aerodynamic piece of sheet metal on top that points down on one side and up on the other to keep them from flipping over in every curve they go through, and the Virginia Sprints run at a number of dirt tracks in the state, four or five times at each one. I have always meant to go to a few of them and do an article on it, because it's small-time good ole boy racers but with grand notions to dedicate themselves to riding from one side of the state to the other rather than just run a late model car at their local track. The whole racing sub-culture is an interesting one. If all these plumbers and pipefitters and carpenters and all put the same amount of money into militias as they did their racing operations (cars, trailers, extra parts, tools, satin jackets, t-shirts, 3000 other things), there'd be some really awesome fractured American civil conflict footage on CNN every night.
#3: Winchester Speedway (Winchester, VA) - Winchester Speedway I've never been to, mostly because Winchester is in the very northernmost part of Virginia, and I don't like northern Virginia much, and remote western parts of it are even less appealing, although occasionally I will pass through going to Pennsylvania for illegal fireworks. They seem to be a higher level of track than my more local ones though, because the big payout dates are way bigger, and I think whenever Nascar has their races in Richmond, Winchester gets a famous driver or two to race at weeknight special Nascar week races. Nascar should have a fucking couple of dirt track races a year, which would be far more interesting than those road courses, or yet another stupid semi-superspeedway in some new major market type place that takes races away from little bump-n-run wreckage bowls like Bristol or Martinsville.
#4: Virginia Motor Speedway (Saluda, VA) - When I was still living in Richmond, Virginia Motor Speedway was the spot to go see some racing, even though it was like an hour east of Virginia down into the marshy muckland of rural Tidewater. This is a very cooler-friendly place, and I used to roll with my boy's Matt (of rock band RPG) and Mark (of metal band Lamb of God), and man it was good times. I need to get back and do that shit again, but I'm an hour west of Richmond now anchored by 3 children and all the accompanying responsibility bullshit that comes with that, even though I shuck as much as I can. The Sawyer brothers, who used to own Richmond International Raceway, before they sold it outright to Nascar's evil France empire, own Virginia Motor Speedway, so it's run about as good as a local dirt track is going to be run. Place used to be called Mid-Bay Raceway, which isn't that noteworthy, except they also used to operate a dirt dragstrip. The idea of a dirt dragstrip is very intriguing to me.
#5: Elkins Speedway (Elkins, WV) - Elkins Speedway is located not too far off of US 33, which is a scenic mountainous ride away from my home. I accidentally drove there just wandering one day, wasting away my life in ten-hour increments. I would imagine it'd be a king-sized time, because West Virginia is like an outlaw's paradise - as wild and wonderful as they used to boast on their license plates. I'll be honest, and I told this to our friends who are an inter-racial couple, most movie-style racial injustices of the physical type don't really happen in the south anymore, because there's just too many black and brown people and too much rap music and too many white kids smoking blunts for that mentality to hold tight nowadays. But the one place I'd say be careful if you were a non-white is West Virginia. Shit, I've been scared going through some deep woods towns there just having longhair, and to be honest, I never did much wandering there while I still had dreadlocks. I ain't looking for free haircuts, and West Virginia is that type of place festering underneath the wonderfully decrepit strip clubs and casinos.
#6: Fork Mountain Raceway (Martinsville, VA) - From my time wandering my home state, wasting away all the money I was making in construction to spend drunken weekends in cheap hotels with women who made my penis fill with blood, I know the dives and dank spots of the Martinsville area fairly well. I never made it to Fork Mountain Raceway though. I'm sure it's a fun place because any time I went to that area, there was always posters attached to phone poles for ironman competitions or demolition derbies or wrestling featuring the Ricky Morton, so you know it's down-home, stuck in the past fun, unless it's become too Wal-Martinized in recent years. Although that can't be because all the textile factories shut down, so if anything, it's probably even more wide open now, with oxycontin-flavored Budweiser drinkers ruling the roost. Used to be called Oak Level Raceway, but got sold, and with that part of the state completely broke ass by now, and the website being vague and set-up by somebody's 11-year-old daughter, I'm not exactly sure if it's still operational after last year. It is owned by a guy named French Grimes. I would imagine he's a rotund, bear-ish, no-nonsense track owner who intimidates when necessary and musses up kids hair on the regular in a friendly manner. French Grimes... it's like somebody made up a name to buy the track, which is why it's probably not operational now, because the bank realized the dude didn't really exist and he was just scamming insurance money from an in-race car accident he engineered with his son and trophy wife, but Simon and Simon are gonna roll into town and figure it all out.
#7: Clary's Speedway (Brinkleyville, NC) - Clary's Speedway is near Roanoke Rapids, which is a rundown former textiles town. Me and my wife stayed there when she was pregnant with our first child (meaning almost ten years ago) when it was still nice and someone ended up shooting up the corner outside the hotel room causing us to sleep uneasy all night long. I would imagine strong dirt track fun at a place like this, where you can sit in the car on a bank and drink beer and watch the action (like me and my boy Boomer did at the now-closed track in Lincolnton). It's funny how a general hopelessness in everyday life creates this strong urge to succeed at weird sub-cultures like dirt track racing, to give people a sense of value that they've lost everywhere else. This is nicknamed the Ring of Fire for some reason, but more importantly, while perusing their website, I found that another track further south in Fayetteville has apparently started a Figure 8 dirt track series in North Carolina, which is something I've wanted to see. In fact, I told my wife if we got rich I was just gonna buy a new place, plow this one under, and make it a Figure 8 track. Fayetteville is a fucked up place, because in that county - and this was froma few years back so it may have changed - it was a dry county, but you could have open containers, the logic being you had to go elsewhere to buy beer, and why would you wait till you got home? Also, there are semi-legal brothels there as well, due to the Marines nearby. I guess Marines need to fuck, so local law enforcement agencies look the other way, because they are fucking for freedom indirectly.
#8: King's Raceway (Kittrell, NC) - King's Raceway is also located in Piedmont, which is the stretch of North Carolina and Virginia that is not western enough to be the foothills of the mountains, and not eastern enough to be marshy and near the ocean. I grew up in the Virginia part, and whenever I have travelled, when I get back into the Piedmont region, I am filled with stupid pride and comfort because the land looks familiar as fuck, and feels like a security blanket for my uneasy screwed-up brain. It is not clear whether King's Raceway is still active or not though, which would be fine, because it's not that far from Roxboro, so if I happen to drive down there and they're not operating, I can go catch the drag races in Roxboro, which are always a nice mix of white trash, semi-urbanized country negro, and new american mexicanos. Plus, it's not too far from my sister's house, so I could crash on her couch, and get mad stoned too most likely.
#9: Allegany County Speedway (Cumberland, MD) - I am not a huge fan of the state of Maryland, and I recently read how the only colony to have a sizeable Catholic influence during its formation was Maryland. That explains why it's such a boring ass fucking state. Like, you can feel your energy drop when you cross the state line from any direction. I guess if I went to the Allegany County Speedway, which calls itself The Rock, I might be able to pick up some National Bohemian beers, although I don't even know if that gets that far from Baltimore. They should just change the fucking name of that beer to Central Maryland Bohemian.
#10: New 311 Speedway (Madison, NC) - They call the New 311 Speedway "the Daytona of Dirt". Race tracks named after the road number they are on are the best. I am not sure why they would call themselves the Daytona of dirt, unless it was just some bullshit they thought of to put on white t-shirts to sell to everybody at the concession stand along with chili dogs and 3000 different Dale Earnhardt knick-knacks. I think the most intriguing thing for me looking at their website is that they have a trackside restaurant that's open year-round, open at 7 a.m. most mornings. I bet they have some hellafied good ass greasy breakfast dishes up in that joint. Buttermilk biscuits with gravy, cheese grits, big old slabs of sage-heavy sausage... I can already invision a road trip to see racing, spending the night at a shithole hotel, getting drunker than two fucks, then eating a hangover-easing lard-laden breakfast the next morning to make it all good for the ride home. Except I bet the restaurant is not open on Sunday mornings, because God wants you to suffer on Sundays if you got all fucked up the day before.
#11: Hagerstown Speedway (Hagerstown, MD) - Hagerstown Speedway is billed as "the Capitol of Dirt Track Racing, which I would assume is a state of mind. Again, I do not like Maryland at all, it being full of chump asses and ugly bitches with no behinds, and it doesn't help the track's website prominently displays it's owned by a guy named Frank Plessinger. That sounds about like your standard Maryland chump ass's perfect name. French Grimes would kick his ass.
#12: Somerset County Speedway (Meyersdale, PA) - The Somerset County Speedway is a couple gunshots across the border from Maryland, and is only 1/5 of a mile, meaning tiny as fuck. It's hard enough on a 1/2 mile track to have passing, so I can't imagine what kind of wreckage and endless yellow flagging you'd have on a fifth of a mile. (If you only know Nascar bullshit car racing, usually on small tracks, yellow flag laps do not count, unless it's a long distance specialty race like a 50 or 100 lapper. Thus, when you have lots of wrecks, it's like this endless parade of yellow flag laps where no one wrecks bad enough to be destroyed and none of the laps count and if you can't drink beer openly it can be very frustrating. Eventually, the crowd will cheer ridiculously when they get a full lap done under green.) I don't normally see myself ever making road trips to Pennsylvania, but I guess it being Friday night racing is a nice break from the usual Saturday night habit of most dirt tracks. I could see running up to Pennsylvania to hit Warfordsburg for a few hundred dollars worth of illegal fireworks, and then staying the night in stupid Meyersdale to watch those weird northern rednecks run around in dirty circles for my drunken amusement.
#13: Princeton Speedway (Princeton, WV) - Princeton Speedway is in the southern part of West Virginia, which is the most wildest and wonderfullest part - small towns claustrophobized by mountain edges, plywood signs proclaiming mayors, pornsite-looking peroxide blonde women sitting on porches in Toby Keith t-shirts, and a general distrust of outsiders everywhere. This is the retarded autonomous zone below Charleston, and I've enjoyed my wanderings through the area, though I've been lucky enough to not be beaten too badly at any point, although I also have sense enough to not flash my shoulder chip feathers when going through places like that. It's kind of like reverse inner-city, but very much the same - broke ass people with no future who are viciously proud of the shithole they by chance happened to be birthed upon. I imagine Princeton Speedway to be a wonderful place because of all this, because they would come from the hollers and shitty towns like Cucumber and War, all to the raceway to try and outrun desperation for a couple of hours.
#14: County Line Raceway (Elm City, NC) - Having been brain damaged by life in the south, I can tell you that things with "county line" in their business name are usually pretty loose places to chill at. I think it's the mentality of being on the edge of two places, where you can easily shake your personal local history by slipping across an arbitrary line. This is even stronger in cities like Bristol that straddle states, and I'd imagine a billion times crazier in international borders. I mean, fuck, those Mexican drug cartels have gone buckwild murder-happy in border towns the past year or so, with crazy shitty murder counts in the thousands that would make the fake cops on The Wire cringe. Anyways, County Line Raceway seems like a very simple family-friendly place designed for locals, since there are larger tracks not that far away, so if you get all gung ho to be a dirt track demon, you're not gonna fuck around at County Line for too long. Then again, once you start fucking around with this bullshit, it's as addictive as any sub-culture not known by the majority of the public. Being the King of County Line late models probably still feels like being Richard Petty, when you're immersed in that role. I wish I had $100,000 to burn and could talk my uncle into helping me build a racecar, although he's more of a straight tracker, and already has my cousin Bubba on the early start at speed. That kid was in junior dragsters going 85 mph on an 1/8 mile track at age 8.


Anonymous said...

I hope I meet your ass in person some day. I will kick the shit out of you. When you write about something that involves blacks, do you call them niggers like you do soutern folks calling them rednecks? Well just pray we meet someday shitstain.

Raven Mack said...

in the odd chance you look at this again, you should know I was raised around rednecks by rednecks and currently live amongst rednecks, and most likely I could kick your faggot ass.

Raven Mack said...

Also re-reading the original thing, only thing I can think is you are from Maryland.