We were out back throwing baseballs at a tin roof pane when Racecar started laughing at me, "Charlie, you couldn't throw that ball in a straight line if I put a hundred dollars on it."
Is that a bet?
"No," he said as he emphaticlly shook his head. "I'm not fool enough to test you when it comes to having money on the line. Besides, we both know it wouldn't be a fair contest."
I stood up and sent a spiraling ball into the bull's eye. You're probably right on that one. So what are we doing tonight? Your Grandma asked if I could stay late.
"We're going to the track!"
"No you dink," he said with an eye roll, "we're going to the dirt track to watch our cars!"
You have cars?
"Come on," he said as he stomped over to the big barn. The barn was what a proper one is supposed to look like. Big, sliding door at the front; red paint with white trim. Nothing at all like the dilapidated thing that stood just at the edge of our yard. Since the first time I had seen it I had been convinced that there wouldn't be a gigantic wasp nest in its loft or deadly snakes slithering through it.
I'll be damned if I wasn't right.
As Racecar opened the alley door I gave a whistle. Inside were two beautiful open wheeled race cars (which I could only recognize because he was always drawing them). Each was painted to match Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s car - and they had sponsor tags too. Bumper stickers of shops that I had visited and those I never knew existed were slapped haphazardly about the bodies of each of these cars. Racecar climbed in one and I raced to do the same in the other car.
This is the coolest thing
"I know, right? And can you believe that we're going to get to watch them tonight!"
That evening we went down to the track and watch six hours of cars turning left on a dirt track that turned my white shirt into a reddish brown mess. The noise was deafening and the smell tremendous. I loved it. Race after race found me and Racecar alternating between screaming at the top of our lungs and stuffing dollar burgers down our throats. I got to see a demolition derby, open wheels, and then I got to see the sprint cars. Those were fun to watch as they careened about the track, digging these massive ruts behind them. Then I got to watch grown men fight each other with wrenches and a policeman fire his gun into the air.
What more could a ten year old boy ask for?
I got to go to several of those races over the next few years but Racecar and I were growing apart so we spent less and less time together. In the end I think that it was my fault as I decided that it was hard to be such good friends with someone who thought there was something admirable in not reading - and something unnatural about reading as much as I was. So I started chasing beautiful girls and playing kissey face with them when they let me catch up while he drifted off into his world of race cars and motor oil. Our priorities shifted further once I realized you could do more with a girl than spend your money on her and kiss.