Every once in awhile I come across something that I think needs to be shared with the rest of you. This is an article that was written by Tim Leeming a radio personality. I was not able to attend this event but from his description I will try to in the future. He very colorfully puts into words what many of us feel when we attend a classic car event. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
If you like what Tim has to say you might want to check him out at www.RacersReunion.com.
He lives in South Carolina and co-hosts of a show called “Racing Through History” which is a show online through Racers Reunion/Zeus Radio Network from 7-9 p.m. every Tuesday night. They have guests, by phone, from the racing world of the past. He does a segment called “Meet a Member” where he interviews Racers Reunion Members for about 15 minutes and pretty much talk about that person. I have listened to some of these in the past and find that they are very addictive. Give it a listen.
***DISCLAIMER: I’ll start this post by saying I am not mentioning the names of any party in
this forum, as to do so would, perhaps, overlook someone, as there were
so many involved. To each of you who read this, thanks. ***
Saturday, August 28, 2010, I attended the Fourth Annual Celebration of the Automobile at The Orange County Speedway in Hillsborough, NC. The Historic Speedway Group who puts on this annual event is made up of very dedicated individuals who give their time (and probably money) to ensure the heritage of stock car racing shall not pass into oblivion. I would like to share just a few observations from my day:
Every phase of the day was handled absolutely professionally.
I have no idea how many people came but there were more than 100 show cars (far more) and probably 50 vintage race cars, and some real beauties too.
I encountered smile after smile, pleasant conversation after pleasant conversation and not one unpleasant person.
The weather was a little hot and more humid than had been forecast, but there was no rain and the heat was not overbearing to me.
Now to the meat of this post.
Shortly after the noon hour, everyone was asked to assemble at the historic track, now hidden by so many trees and very narrow in parts, to see the cars run two twenty lap events. I walked down to the track from the display area and when I walked through the trees to the grandstands I had to stop in surprise to take in the number of people already gathered there. Wow! There was a crowd in that grandstand which, to my untrained eye, appeared to be more fans than attended the Brickyard event NASCAR held last month.
I walked down the steps of the stands heading down to the infield (my usual place of preference to watch a race) and as I descended the steps, looking to the left and right, I saw folk of every age, from a tiny baby in a mother’s arms to an elderly gentleman who appeared to be in his mid nineties, with a bright smile showing through the wrinkles. I didn’t stop to talk with him but I would guess he was a regular at the speedway back when the cars raced.
As I got to the steps down to the actual track, the cars started to enter from the turn one area and proceed down the back straight. Through the trees, you could not see the cars, but you could hear a rumble of racing engines that sounded as though the true “ghost riders in the sky” had returned for one more run at the 9 tenths mile dirt track on the river bank. It was ghostly, almost chilling, and looking around at the crowd, I was not the only one to feel it.
As I cross the track, the cars began to appear from behind the trees coming out of turn four. They idled up and stopped before the grandstands. There were cheers and applause, but I was standing there numb from seeing these beautiful machines before me with the smiling faces of the drivers and people riding in the cars. Thirty-six race cars, a pace car, and three or four police cars (who let them in?) made up this field.
When the “race” started, I climbed into the flag stand (no one told me I couldn’t) and any one who knows me can tell you this was an amazing accomplishment because the flag stand was more than 2 feet high and I don’t do heights. But something about this day put this fears behind me (to push me up the ladder). What I experienced on that flag stand really defies complete description but I will tell you that standing there watching these historic cars of the past zip underneath my feet as the dust rose into the air, was a surreal experience. It was a though I were suspended in time and the dust being raised was that inpenterable veil between sleep and waking that you experience just before or after the alarm goes off. I looked down and saw Tim Flock, Fireball Roberts, Joe Weatherly, Buck Baker, Lee Petty, Jimmy Lewallen, Bill Blair, Sr. and so many more of my childhood heroes coming out of the dust to my right and disappearing into the dust on my left. It was truly dream-like.
I met so many people I had not met before who will surely become friends, as those I got to see again for the first time in a long time have become friends already. This Racers Reunion gig is turning out to be like family, one group of like-minded folks who enjoy each others company and enjoy the sights and sounds that go with the racing history we all love. And that Occoneechee bunch make sure everyone is happy, well cared for, and treated like family.
Oh, I know I said in the disclaimer, no names, but I have to share this one thing, thanks to Harlow Reynolds. He has painted, on the back of the number 21 Wood Brothers tribute car, the following: “The older I get, the better I was”. I absolutely love that saying. That indicates that in a few more years I will have been really good!!!!!!
Until next year, Historic Race Group, may the green flag fall on a sunny day, no yellow or red flags spoil your event, and may the checkered flag be far distant on the horizon. You are winners already!!!