Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Sandlot


I pulled into what would be, on any other day, an empty field in Concord, NC. As I got out of the car the familiar smell of methanol, Ben Oil and rubber filled the cold December air. I had arrived at the Field Filler Fairgrounds. A small 1/10 mile asphalt race track, built by one of NASCAR's past champions. The track that seemed as if it had been forgotten for quite sometime, was suddenly full of life. The young guys who brought this little piece of land back to life, reminded me of the boys from the movie, Sandlot. I believe the only difference was that this Sandlot was actually a race track rather than a baseball diamond. 

As we entered the pit area I began to feel like a kid again. Excited to be amongst friends who loved racing. Real racing. No politics. No contracts. Just racers. Kids having fun.  The masterminds behind The Field Filler Fairgounds were introduced to me as SuperShoe, Flea, The Franchise and BeaverDragon. They could easily be recognized by their Chuck Tailors and ripped up jeans. These young guys are possibly some of the best talent that the city of Charlotte has to offer to NASCAR. The best part of it all is, they spend their weekends hosting amateur go-kart races at their self built racetrack simply because of their love for the sport. What these guys have done with this little racetrack is possibly the coolest thing to hit Charlotte since the filming of the movie, Days of Thunder.


At the Field Filler Fairgrounds racers young, old, famous and dangerous all get the chance to get back to doing what they love. There is no "Sprint Cup" girls in Victory Lane or big sponsor names written on the walls around here.. :nope: simply a checkerboard stage, a Get-Well banner for one of their injured racer friend, a bottle of $7 champagne and a hand-made, wooden, "Dale" trophy..:that I believe BeverDragon made in shop class.: Driver's meeting was conducted just off of turn four next to a 76 ball from the old NASCAR Winston Cup days and opening race ceremonies included a prayer, the pledge of allegiance and the National Anthem which was sung by everyone in attendance.

Events like these are special to people like me for several reasons.. Around this time of year I begin to re-evaluate why I moved here and if I am still happy. Recently, my passion for the sport is less vibrant and home-life seems more endearing. After a Sunday at the Sandlot I quickly remember why myself and every one else is in this city. Each one of us, at one point in our lives, would have given our right arm to be at a race track with our best friends, racing to win a wooden Dale Earnhardt trophy. :Tho: those days are behind me now, I felt privileged to spend my Sunday with the boys who still invest their time and effort into the sport we all love.

The reporters of NASCAR seem to always be looking for a story to write. I must say that the best story in racing, at this current time, isn't at Lowes Motor Speedway..it's about 5 miles down the road at a little place called the Field Fillers Fairgrounds or in my eyes The Sandlot.

Here is some video. Check out the crowd at this place..

video
Pre-Race Ceremonies



video
Green Flag


2 comments:

  1. Great piece! Wish we could have been at The Sandlot and VLK... Bummer that both events were in the same day. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

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  2. Once upon a time I raced street stock. It was just a hobby and I had no illusion of ever going beyond the local short tracks. Well there was a incident in my garage one Saturday as we were trying to make it to the track to race that night. The garage exploded and burned to ashes along with everything inside. It left me with an air mattress, old TV and a stand as my sole possessions. Well that was 5 years of devoting everything I had to racing gone in a hour. At the time I didn’t have the heart to start over. It had seemed like them 5 years were so long that I didn’t want to spend another 5 years just to get back to were I was so I gave up racing. Now as a old man I look back an think. I gave up my dream because I lost 5 f$&king years. Man 5 f$&king years is a drop in a bucket. Then it seemed like an eternity but having lived this long it was only a drop in a bucket. Was I field filler? Yes would I have always been a field filler? Yes But giving up on my dream because I lost 5 years’ worth of time even though I knew then and now that I always would of been a field filler Is my biggest regret in this life. Moral of this story don’t ever give up on your dreams. Even if you get side track and regular old life gets in the way.
    P.S. I am now racing karts on the local dirt tracks (Dreams Never Die)

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