Monday, July 18, 2011

weekend 301

The mystery malaria hit me Thursday night. Skin painful to touch, dizzy and exhausted. I crawled to my bed and sweated for the next 48 hours. A weekend of perfect weather traced its path across my black curtains, the sounds of motorcycles wafting in at all hours adding to my delusional, fevered misery.
Dropped some Soma pills I had leftover from the 2001 hospital stay at midnight Saturday, last try for a cure before dawn.

The sun came up and I tried to walk, no dizziness. A shower and I felt like a human again, the trip was on. Miracle cure? 48 hour death trip? Who knows?

The fender fluff arrived and the Triumph was aimed northwards to New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Back in the late 80's to the 90's, NASCAR was my religion. I could recite every car, driver, team and hometown by memory. One year we hit 10 Winston Cup races. That was a big deal when you live in New England.

As the sport grew in popularity, NASCAR kept chipping away at the raw edges of the series. The France family made it softer and easier to digest for the Wal Mart masses, all the while turning their backs on the smaller money tracks and teams that were there from the beginning.

First North Wilkesboro lost their race, then the front wheel drive bodied cars, restrictor plates, outlawing Hoosier Tires, no more Winston sponsorship, more 1.5 mile, D-shaped, oval tracks where they had no business being. Fuck Chicago and Kansas.

Then all the phantom caution flags for Jeff Gordon to catch up, escalating tickets prices, the Taurus race car with 2 doors. I finally recanted my faith when ESPN, the network that helped build the empire, lost coverage rights to two shitty cable networks. It was over for me.

So all that being said, I was riding to the track with a very jaundiced eye. I had been there in 1990 to shake Tommy Ellis' hand when he won the first race there, now I bet 80% of the fans I will see today do not know who even built the speedway.

Departure at 7:30 gave us an Interstate run with no traffic. We stopped in Manchester, New Hampshire for breakfast. I ate carefully, not knowing if I still was carrying the Andromeda Strain of Plague.

That thirty minutes of downtime revealed a different Everett Turnpike when we turned on to the on ramp. Heavy traffic bogged down South of Concorde, so we bounced the back way up routes 3 and 9.

That pesky red thermometer warning light was on as we crawled up 106. Occasional blasts in the oncoming lane were needed to cool my British bitch down. Finally into the grassy bike lot and a fine relaxing time under the shade trees.

The bike lot had a great variety, from Bultaco street bikes, vintage Triumphs, choppers laden down with camping gear and Canadian versions of bikes not even available in the USA. A generous dude gave us some free ice water and we chilled out for a hour before post time.

Our low buck tickets today were in the third turn grandstands. In the old days, us 50th row main grandstanders would consider these the ghetto of seats. They were actually better, great perspective of the backstretch, seeing the cars slide through the corner and a sweet breeze all day. The only penalty was no view of the pit road action.

Somehow the race was exciting with many lead changes and Tony Stewart almost winning. As jaded as I am with the new NASCAR, I still love the sound of the cars going by with the flames spewing from the headers.

Leaving was the same clusterfuck and overheat light. We bailed on the first numbered route and had a curve filled, 170 mile ride home. Got NH 13 in downtown Concord and followed that beautiful road to the Bay State. The dehydration began to set in near Baldwinville, Mass. My hands were cramping badly, something that has never happened before. A big bottle of water and some Advil was the cure.

My ten o'clock shift at work was looming like a thundercloud ahead of us. Maximum backroad speed balanced with deer phobia got me me in the shop at 10:02pm, close enough.

341 miles of motorcycling and 301 miles of V8 racing made for an excellent rise from the grave.

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