Deming speedway opening day 2011.
My neighbor Ed has a sprint car. A mini-sprint car to be more precise. On Friday nights he joins other race car drivers, pit crews, families, and fans, at the Deming Speedway to reaffirm what is right in America. It may not be the stated mission of the speedway, the racers, or the fans, but that is most certainly what is happening there. I am sure of it.
Bumper to bumper open wheel racing around a 1/6th mile clay track with a 1200cc engine screaming loudly as it sucks down methanol, might not seem to immediately equate to ‘what is right in America’, but when I left the Deming track with my ears ringing from three hours of shrieking race motors, it was with a smile and a feeling that tucked on the other side of the tracks in little Deming WA is a piece of America that is getting harder and harder to find. In a country that was built on a simple, but increasingly scarce, principle of ‘can do’… the Deming speedway is oozing with it. Here, inside the small clay track race oval ‘can do’ is so readily evident that trying to quantify it would be like trying to describe a forest by illustrating just a few trees. ‘Can do’ is simply the cultural norm there. Technology, horsepower, innovation, risk, problem solving, wisdom, youth, family, friends… it is all there.
The drivers of these cars range from young kids to retirees. The pit crews are small and made up of primarily family and friends. Problem solving seems to be the order of the day as a myriad of factors ranging from track moisture to tire pressure are considered and then acted upon. Young teen drivers, some of whom are years away from even being allowed to hold a part time job, become partners in discussions of car setups, mechanical tweaks, and racing strategy. It is obviously a high-risk game that these people play and the seriousness of what goes on out on the track does not seem to be lost on anyone. There are not that many venues left in America where the values that have come to define our culture and that we have all learned to recite as ‘true’ are actually still in practice. I find it refreshing to have found a place where the pursuit of excellence is alive and well. The great American way is not dead… it is there at the races in Deming… smiling and all covered in mud.