MONTE DUTTON - BUFFALOES IN THE WEST
The first I met Brian Zachary France, I pegged him for a bull shooter, which is a term that has been transformed over time into more colorful and vulgar usage.
The scion of the NASCAR empire was being groomed for leadership not long before the century turned, and I was invited out to dinner so that I could get to know the future emperor. He tried too hard to impress. He told me he was negotiating with BET (Black Entertainment Television) for the rights to carry occasional NASCAR races, and he said it with the tone of a man who felt he could say anything and people would nod and say, “How fascinating.”
I asked him how in the world a network dedicated to African American life could possibly add coverage of a sport that, more then than now, drew sparse interest and participation from said community?
The proposition seemed so absurd that the person who made it must surely consider it an absurd corral, but France tried to shoot enough bulls to wiggle out of it. It was an impossible task.
Our relations through the years have not been the best. I doubt this has troubled him unduly.
Honestly, I don’t take any great satisfaction in this abortive joy ride in the otherwise peaceful streets of Sag Harbor Village, N.Y. When I heard about it, I was blissfully reveling in Chase Elliott’s success at Watkins Glen (well inland, same state) and how good for the sport it might be. When I heard the potentate of NASCAR had been detained by the gendarmes, my initial reaction was, nice timing, Zach.
Now the visionary leader of stock car racing is going to take a nice, long rest. He will battle “exhaustion.” Perhaps there’s a remote island, certainly more remote than Long Island, that can be found to suit his tastes.
Substance abuse is no laughing matter. Shooting bulls isn’t easy. They tried to do that with buffaloes in the West. As best I recall, they almost succeeded in shooting them all.