April Smith



My First Time


*During the 45 minute drive, I had a lot of questions in my mind about what it would be like to sit in the stands when I headed out to my first race a couple of weeks ago.    

 But I didn’t have to ask for directions once. 

 I did have to stop and turn around a couple of times, but the quiet, back-roads route was an easy one, lined with tree shadows and rolling hills.  I thought to myself here and there “this is some nice countryside” while finding myself a little more relaxed as each little hidden driveway passed, one-by-one. 

 Then I saw a bigger driveway…and the sign.  Taking the left turn into Grayson County Speedway brought me into a hidden, independent world I’d somehow had absolutely no knowledge of my entire life. 

 We made our way through the gate.  We sought out ear plugs and bought some flags.  Then we found our way to the stands.  (Noticing the BYOB signs along the way…note to self).  There were all sorts of different kinds of people filling the stands.  Everyone looked comfortable.  Then the heats began.

 ALL of my senses were invested in each moment of each race.  First the cars, then the sound, then the cloud of dust and noxious fumes exhilarated even the air around me.  Even all my organs were involved in the thrill: I was turned on, my skin had chills, my stomach fluttered, my heart pounded… and my mind was racing trying to sort out all of this confusing stimulation.  

 My feelings and emotions might have been in chaos, but one thing was absolutely certain: I was addicted!  I was addicted by the grasp this experience suddenly had on me, over and over, each time a car rounded a curve and accelerated along the straightaway, growling at the other cars and clawing at the dirt. 

 *I took a breath and looked toward the left.  It was the most beautiful Texas sunset I have ever seen. 

 Back to the cars. 

During one of the heats…One race was a fight between two of the leading cars.  The first car caught fire allowing the second to take its place during the steady pace of the yellow flag.  Then, just after the green made its return, the new first place driver also developed a little fire under the hood. 

 *We hung around until the last race.  It’s an interesting sight seeing the glimmer of pure thrill inside of very tired eyes!  Every race was exciting.  The cars that I found the most thrilling were the Modifieds.  They seemed to accelerate faster and fishtail more around the curves…with every turn they took I was expecting some kind of crash, but the drivers most impressively controlled the cars each time. 

 Before I made it to the track, I had been warned that I might get dirty sitting in the stands.  But while sitting there taking in the experience, I didn’t care that my pants were getting dusty.  I imagne to the drivers the dust is something like the war paint the natives would put on themselves before heading out into a highly anticipated battle.  I also didn’t really mind being hit in the face with clumps of mud, or whatever it was… serious fans might consider it to be like catching a baseball from the stands at a championship game.  And after a little while, the smell of exhaust filling my nose didn’t bother me….in fact, I bet everyone involved in the world of dirt tracks wakes up faster anytime with that smell than they do with brewing coffee in the morning. 


I discovered a world brand-new to me: a new sport, a new culture, new feelings, a new type of secret language….I found out it’s called Short Track Racing, not small track.  I guess it’s probably not called small track for a good reason….because although the track is only a ¼ mile…there’s really nothing small about it.  The excitement, the smiles, and of course the sounds were big….and I bet that the hopes and dreams and unwavering passion going around that track every week are pretty darn big.  Plus, a great man I know always says, driving a race car “puts chemicals in your body money can’t buy.” 

I had quite a few questions on my way to my first dirt track race.  All of them were answered.  So now, the only question left in me is… when is the next spectator race? 














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Revised: February 23, 2013