SI Vault
 
BAD, BRUTAL FUN
JEFF MACGREGOR
April 11, 2005
The first time I drive the car it feels like rage, apocalypse in every cylinder, pistons hammering hot and remorseless as hell's forge, the manifold ravenous, roaring for air and explosives, belts shrieking, crankshaft screaming threats, spinning off metal shavings like a lathe, the oil tortured, a black ruin of subatomic corruption boiling in the spattered bowel, rods, valves, lifters and springs flying apart, colliding and crashing back, the relentless cycling a hundred times a second, sickle on scythe, shrapnel clattering in the dark, anxious to fail, to escape, blazing, on razor wings, and the exhaust thundering fire and stench and the mourning blast of Armageddon--
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April 11, 2005

Bad, Brutal Fun

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Helmets cinched tight, jowls bulging, the first two drivers are led to their cars. They struggle to squeeze themselves in through the driver's window. They fiddle with the safety harnesses. Then they're gone.

Two instructor-student pairs are sent out half a lap apart, so there are always four cars on the track. We have been divided into four teams, on the theory that we will pull together to post the fastest aggregate team time, thereby earning brag-and-swagger rights and a complimentary four-by-six color team photo in a decorative cardboard sleeve. The Petty folks want us to have a rooting interest in our teammates' performances. We do not. We will remain strangers until the day we die. Team member or not, we mock and kibitz about the others as they orbit the track.

"He's too far behind the instructor. He's not gettin' the draft. Slowpoke."

"Yeah, that's some chickens--- bulls--- all right. You gotta tuck right up in there."

"Christ, he even sounds slow."

The one thing no one wants to do is drop the clutch and stall the car as he's trying to pull away. Of course, some do.

"Weakling!"

"Candy ass!"

"Oh, you gutless sumbitch!"

Per the dentist, so much for team building. That's for sniveling middle-management lickspittles on corporate outings anyway, not for Rebel heroes and Yankee hot shoes and men who stare down gingivitis every goddamn day.

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