Monday, October 8, 2012

A night in boyland

I am surrounded by testosterone 24/7. Sometimes it is too much. As much as I love these creatures, I sometimes grow weary of roughness and dirt and zombies and wrestling and snakes and toads and Axe deodorant and video games and washing sports uniforms and armpit farts and crashing sounds and devouring of a pan of brownies in 1/8th the time it took me to prepare them. But, on the same token, I love it. And I love being introduced to things that weren't part of the girly world I grew up in.

In having boys I learned to like things I never knew I would. My husband introduced me to snowmobiling and fishing and off-road excursions.  In having my boys I've learned to enjoy watching skateboarding and snowboarding and riding all-terrain vehicles. One more I can add to the list is the annual Crashfrest at Illiana Motor Speedway.

Despite living about a half-hour away I had never been to the Illiana Motor Speedway. I have learned an appreciation for racing in recent years. We've traveled all over the Midwest and being a travel writer I am always seeking out new places to visit. On a trip to Indianapolis one year, we stopped at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I had never been to a race before and never watched racing on television....but on that trip, part of the visit to the Indiana Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum was a ride around the track in a small bus.  We were moving at a crawl compared to how the race car drivers take the turns, but it was a big thrill to be on that same track and rounding those corners gave me such a rush.

Every year, we mark the end of the season Crashfest at Illiana Motor Speedway on our calendar, but we don't make it. My husband has gone a couple times in the past. Once with my oldest son and nephew when they were quite young. Another time he and his parents went with a couple of the boys. The past couple of years, I was willing to go, but we had other plans that night or my husband had to work. This year, I looked at my calendar the day before and since the day was open, we decided to go.

We pulled in the lot nearing race time and I could not believe how many people were there. And how many people take it so seriously. There were tailgaters with tents and grills and tables who looked like they'd been there for hours. We were lucky to find a small vacancy on a front center bleacher so that we could sit close to each other.

First were stock car races. The boys had fun making picks and watching a Corvette blow away everyone else. Next was a figure 8 bus race. This was really cool. As they picked up momentum on those 25 laps they ran, some fell behind leaving close calls each time they'd cross. Two buses collided. One tipped over. The driver jumped out of the back, unscathed, and hopped back in the driver seat. I enjoyed it way more than I thought it would. There is the potential for injury - even death - in such an event, but when the driver jumps out with hands in the air, letting everyone know he is okay, the crowd goes wild. The winner was someone who had just bought his bus, decided that morning to enter the race and painted it that afternoon. Everyone loves an underdog story.

The final race is a trailer race and that's the one where the crashing happened. Lots of it. There were about 8 vehicles, each pulling some kind of trailer - a camper, a boat, a comical contraption of a port-a-potty placed on a flatbed trailer. Before the race even began, a boat had fallen off its trailer and it was soon hit and blown to smithereens. My boys, of course, had a blast. I kinda liked it myself. And it's not something I thought I'd enjoy. You see I cringe at so many things where I know people are getting hurt - football, wrestling, hockey. That's the mom in me. I don't like to see people get hurt. And in this race, there were a couple pretty big crashes, where you weren't sure if the driver was going to walk out of there in good condition. But, they did. So, you hold your breath for a moment, waiting to see if they come out...and when they do, you kind of want to see it again. At least I do. And most of all, I love any activity I can do with the kids where we are all there and all having fun together. Now that my oldest is 18, he's absent in a lot of our family activities. Or sometimes only half the family is there because one of the other kids has to be somewhere else. All seven of us in one place at the same time is becoming more of a rarity.

After we returned home, I logged on to Facebook and saw my husband's status. "4 hours tonight at Illiana Speedway Crashfest. $120 for tickets. $45 for food. All family members enjoying the night, priceless!" I was thinking the same thing myself. :)

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