Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dirt Racin'

After my parents got tired of going to Rocky Springs Park every Saturday night (see below), they decided it was time to make one of my father's dreams come true...own and race a stock car.  Every weekend we lugged the car (usually a 1930 or '31 Ford coupe) on the top of a large flatbed and trundled off to Lincoln Speedway (near Hanover, PA) on Friday nights, Lancaster Speedway on Saturday nights, and Mason-Dixon Speedway (near Rising Sun, MD) on Sunday afternoons.  The US may have had NASCAR, but WE had the Penn-Mar Racing Association.  My father, my uncle and two of my father's friends were the mechanics.  We hired drivers.  The first was not aggressive and was replaced by a far better (and much more handsome) driver.  By the 5th year, we had captured #1 in the championship rankings, which apparently was the goal because we never raced again.

Our farm bordered on a cemetery.  The leftover dirt from the graves was piled on our property with my father's permission (he ultimately gave a great deal of land to the cemetery, so the dirt piling was no big deal).  Racing fever pretty much bit a lot of the kids in Gap.  And one day, while mowing the yard, I had The Vision:  we'd convert the dirt piles into a race track for kids.  So we did.  With help, we sort-of leveled the mounds into a reasonable oval, although one turn was higher than the other.  This had its advantage when going downhill in that one didn't have to work to get to the next turn; on the other hand, one huffed and puffed up the hill after a few laps.

And so we raced.  Bikes, tricycles, wagons and scooters.  The aunt of one of the racers made a complete set of flags.  The flag person stood where a dead bush bordering the cemetery had been pulled out.  It was on the downhill straightaway, slightly above the racers.  The gravedigger was a little miffed at first, because he wasn't sure where to put the dirt leftover from the graves (people were still dying...rather inconsiderately, from my point of view).  That problem was soon solved and two summers were spent racing around the track whenever we all felt like it.  Two summers in hot afternoons.  Everyone was then invited to a cooling dip in our farm pond afterward.

In this litigious, child-proofed age, would such a thing still be possible?

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