Tuesday, February 7, 2017

TMC Racing Stories: Bristol 1

Soon after closing on our first house, I learned my little Toyota Corolla was ill-equipped for regular runs to the hardware store, landscaping lot, Walmart, etc. Adding to the need for more room in my vehicle was the addition of Winston to our household.

As a pup, Winston went just about everywhere with me. Getting smacked in the face by his sturdy and hyperactive puppy tail, however, got really old. I traded out my Yota for a 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and life was a wee bit better.

I bought the standard, two-wheel drive model though I also test-drove the 4WD version. I opted for the two-wheel drive one because:
  • The handling was more to my liking, 
  • I didn't plan to take it on many off-road excursions, and
  • The dealer wanted $2,000 extra for the 4WD option!
Schaefer co-founder Philly and I loaded the Jeep on a Saturday morning in April 1994 for an overnight trip to Bristol. We were on our way for the Food City 500. (As an aside, we were as stunned as anyone and laughed heartily as we heard on MRN that Mark Martin pulled off the track a lap early to gift the Busch race win to David Green.)

On Sunday, we picked a lot well away from the track. Cost wasn't bad - 10 bucks or so. After watching Earnhardt win...again, our jaws dropped as we arrived at our parking lot. The buttheads running the lot had eked out every stinking dollar of revenue they could. Vehicles were parked parallel and perpendicular liked a series of failed Tetris rows.

We were blocked on the sides and behind us. One upside we had, however, is no one was in front of me. A couple of options were available:
  • wait for a bunch of half-lit fans to lollygag back to the lot and leave so we could back out -or-
  • pull straight ahead, cross a small ditch, climb the slight rise, and turn right on the highway.
Facing a 5+ hour ride home to Chattanooga plus work on Monday, option 1 was immediately discarded. I eased down one side of the embankment, through the marshy bottom of the ditch, and up the other side. But then...

With the wet ditch, I got zero traction. I tried not to spin the rear tires, but I was making no forward progress.

As a few good ol' boys sauntered up, they offered sage advice "DROP IT IN 4 WHEEL DRIVE MAN!" I laughingly bellowed back "I would if I'd had two grand more."

Philly stepped out of the passenger side and asked the guys if they could give us a hand. Sure enough, the inebriated bunch of good-hearted souls gathered at the rear of my Jeep and yelled Go!

I eased into the gas but still wasn't going anywhere at first. But then bit by bit, I moved forward some. I glanced to my left and spotted Philly doubled-over laughing outside the door. Before I could even ask what was so funny, he stammered out just keep going between laughs. 

Finally I popped out on the shoulder of the highway, and the Jeep's rear wheels were again back on asphalt. Philly yelled thanks and jumped in. I threw my hand out the window to acknowledge them too, but returned my focus to checking my mirrors for on-coming traffic. 

Philly then said while still busting a gut "stop a second and look at those clowns." All of them - several shirtless - were covered ankle-to-neck in fresh mud but laughing and with a fresh brew in hand. 

With a shake of the head and you've GOT to be kidding me, we headed for I-81 to lead us home.


1 comment:

  1. There are no fans like race fans. Thanks for an enjoyable story.