They say its a track “Only Mudders Could Love”
Well this party begs to differ. The Brighton International Speedway gives a very good run for the
money against such popular local competition as the Saturday evening Baseball League action,
double first-run features at the Campbellford Cinema, or the Episcopal Dance and Social down
And as the Financial Post would have it that is all well and good for democracy and
capitalism as we know it.
All I know is that I and a few thousands other fans pay $9 bucks to see the full throated opera
that is the Brighton Speedway 100. That is 100 laps around the track or the last car standing.
A lap is about 1 kilometer give or take a few hundred meters. But obviously the distance isn’t
really that important – its the ability to survive on a wet, muddy track.
Now lets be clear – this isn’t one of those deliberate demolition derby soap operas. These cars
don’t get anything if they don’t show for the final lap. The problem is that the event is so popular
the Speedway has to have elimination heats to get the race down to 30 starting cars – and even
then the cars seem to snake more than halfway around the track for the start.
And don’t get the notion the drivers don’t care. They have lavished not a few thousand dollars
and considerably more in hours of work getting these “stock” cars up and ready for action. Now
I winced a bit when I had to quote “stock” cars – because there are limits to how much you can
juice up your racer. And being a Christian I would not like to cast aspersions on any car or
driver …. but you gotta know that the fully belly throb and roar of that 98 Lincoln seems to be
benefiting from a slight surplus of …..
However, lets concentrate on the sweet and pure. And there is nothing quite as vital as the first
opening overture as the qualifying 30 cars wind around the track in full-voice muscling and revving.
Bill Cosby used to do a comedy routine about his favorite Shelby Cobra – it consisted of Bill
doing revs and roars on the microphone in full mating aura, eyes lighting up, a few choice
comments, but really it was the basso aria that was the show. Vroooom, VROOOM,
Well as the cars revolve around the track waiting for the green flag down – the roaring backfires,
percussion revs and throttle-down high notes have a visceral edge that catches your attention. And
if the cars have to jostle and adjust long enough(they did this evening), the music can be hypnotizing.
Now they say (and “they” include the track announcers who provide a curious blend of blow by
blam commentary with a sidedish of folksy encouragements to drivers and cars) – in any case,
“they” say that the secret to winning the race is to survive the first 20 or so laps. No petal to the
metal driving but “just keep her clean” – no small order on a just watered mud track.
Well this evening the Mudder players may have had an itch to bitch because it took about 60 laps
for the gals and guys to settle down to seventeen surviving cars that would throb through and all
manage to finish the race. Now the real music begins.
First, they stop crashing and having to run laps under the caution as the carnage is pulled from the
track. Nobody gets hurt except in the pocket book because the cars run with not just fender
benders, but flat tires, 3 leggers (one dropped tire), and “fenders in the face” – flipped up back
over the passenger side windshield – but that usually brings out a caution as fast as a spin out.
Second the track is dry because they don’t water it down over the last 20 or so laps. So the
full concert breaks out. The drivers are really revving and throttling. The roar of the cars is so
throbbing that it vibrates in your rib cage – now that is full body visceral. And the drivers display
a new set of skills – the ability to angle drift through the turns to get maximum lift off on the 450
meter straightaway. Positioning themselves to either pass or block at the next turn. The sound
and swing of the track now changes to a full pitch jazz beat – thumping this roar side of being
any melody as drivers follow a pattern of roar and brake ; just syncopated.
And the driving is good.
Inside passes are tried. Straight away angled drive throughs and blocks – but the danger is
nudge and out. However, on this evening nobody can catch that “beefed up” Lincoln, even
the scrawny Ford driven by that matching 23 year old gal from Cobourg. Every time the
Ford sneaks up on the Lincoln, the bull roars out a “No Way, Madame” pull-away aria.
And so I and fellow Brighton Speedway attendees go away full serenaded and satisfied
with race music full and rich even if the plot line had a Snidely Whiplash-like winner to the
race. Who cares when the concert was full-throated action and daring-do driving.