Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Is NASCAR Racing Art?

Of all of the things that are considered art no one would include NASCAR into that sacred pantheon of aesthetic pursuit. I certainly never have. But maybe everyone is wrong.

I don't know, maybe I've just gone bug-eyed nuts, but I'm not sure I see the difference between watching a battalion of race cars roar across the starting line, watching Tom Keller cook, sitting at the opera or watching, as I have, Mikhail Baryshnikov scampering around on a scaffold in the role of Gregor Samsa in Kafka's The Metamorphosis.

As I mentioned in my last post I went to the Pocono 500 this weekend. It was the first "stock car" race I'd been to since the late 1960's and damn, was it ever amazing. When it was happening I thought that maybe I was getting so worked up from all the noise and all the display of raw power. More than once while I was sitting there I thought that what I was going through was like what happened to me when I saw The Who perform at The Fillmore East when I was 13. During that performance I was flipping out because I felt like I was being slapped in the head by the loud sound and the spectacle of watching Keith Moon splintering his drumsticks and Pete Townsend whirling his picking arm around like a propeller. (You know the drill). It was only much later that I realized that something about what they were saying and the way they were saying it was uhm... more than the sum of the motions and words they performed.

So maybe that race I saw is going to mean something other than what I felt when it was going on. And hell, if Sun Tzu can see the art in war, why can't we see it in a well run race -or a tightly executed meal for that matter?

Speaking of meals; don't go to a NASCAR race expecting to eat anything other than what SYSCO wants you to eat. I certainly wasn't and I was not disappointed. And whoeee, are you going to pay for it. A bottle of water costs 3.50; french fries 4 bucks. Beer was 6 dollars, but based on my observation of how many people were drinking it I'd have thought that they were giving it away if i didn't know any better. The only upside to the food scene there is that the track allows you to bring in your own stuff -beer too. I don't know why they do this given the security concerns. Maybe they figure that no terrorist is going to be dumb enough to try to screw with a crowd of 150, 000 people -about half of whom are drunk, weigh over 250 lbs and look like they have teeth that can bend a Snap-On torque wrench.

God-damn this is a great country.


The Foodist said...

Good to hear it was a good time.
I went to a smaller race years ago in VA, was an interesting experience to say the least.

I never understood NASCAR in its total nature myself, Im not really that much of a car guy so that doesnt help Im sure. But I can respect it.

I guess you could say its an art, takes alot skill to do what everyone does, from the pit crew to the drives.

as for the crowd, aint that the truth! Some of the most colorful "folk" Ive ever met in my life! but are they good people!

Bob del Grosso said...

Oh yeah they were good people. (Or so they behaved.) I did not bump into anyone who gave me a moment's worth of trouble. I've had more trouble at Dead concerts where so many of the attendees seem to think that they must tell you what they know, and if you don't want to listen, they are risking the success of their mission.

The Foodist said...

"and if you don't want to listen, they are risking the success of their mission."

LOL, I know exactly what you mean

Where people tailgating at the race? or are they cracking down on that?