MONTE DUTTON – HARD WORK AND HARDER PLAY
I don’t think anyone has actually gnashed his (or her) teeth over the absence of a NASCAR media tour this year. Not many know what it means to gnash one’s teeth. They just say “great gnashing of teeth” as a general term of shock or pain.
To gnash one’s teeth is to grind them together and, in the Bible, it is often accompanied by weeping and/or wailing. Apart from the Bible, its use is generally exaggerated.
The loss of a media tour is just another removal of a brick in the NASCAR wall. I miss it, but I miss racing in general. All in all, it’s just another brick (gone) in the proverbial wall.
In its heyday, it was hectic and exhausting. We’d get up at the crack of dawn, attend a breakfast sponsored by the Busch Series, when that’s what it was called, or Craftsman Trucks, when that’s what they were called, or the rookie class, when it was small and generally comprised of adults, and, fortified by coffee and scrambled eggs, trudge out to buses and go hang out at a race shop, there to renew acquaintances and bask in the offseason optimism that always predominates before any green flags wave.
The schedule would have periods designated as “writing time,” and the time would seldom match the schedule because part of it would be overrun by the time it took to get back to the headquarters hotel to write like hell for the next day’s paper. Those of us representing the print media would write a feature and end it with a series of notes that consisted of what we could think of before we had to board another bus.
Perhaps you remember newspapers. They were an antiquated occupant of the space now reserved for online articles like this one, blogs, podcasts, videos and other technological wonders of which I am not yet mindful.
At the end of a long, exhausting day, many of us would retire to a hospitality room to be mostly hospitable, drink beer, play poker and take part in antics that would be passed down in increasingly exaggerated versions through succeeding years.
In many of them, as it was said in Animal House, decorum prevented full details from being repeated here.
There was the time when one of our colleagues, from available evidence, apparently became one of few humans ever to break his leg from crashing up a flight of stairs. At one shop, the luncheon tables were adorned with shiny pistons that some attendees assumed were souvenirs. They were expensive as souvenirs, and it’s entirely possible that the decorator lost his job over it, though, allegedly, all the pistons were retrieved and returned, there to be inserted in engines instead of being placed on mantels.
I haven’t been to a media tour since 2012, and it had grown too damned respectable even then as the sport was already descending into a never-ending quagmire of media conferences and assorted other formality. Close friends know I likened it to the Soil and Water Conservation Conservation essay contest I entered in the eighth grade. Everyone had exactly the same information, and the winner was the kid with a shiny apple who wrote about it best.
The man (or woman) who toughed it out, who played hurt and hung over, then received a measure of respect.
In the words of a song, “Gimme a beer or two and I’ll be fine. At least it worked every other time.”