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Mamma, don’t let your babies grow up to be race fans

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 November 2009 No Comment

It was the most spectacular crash – and not in a good way – since the one about six months earlier at that same track. A track driver Mark Martin calls “the lotto” because winning has almost as much to do with dumb luck at avoiding crashes as it does with skill.

You don’t drive Talladega. You survive it. And one little boy is happy that Ryan Newman survived it Sunday.

Big Guy has officially foresaken all others in NASCAR and made #39 his #1. No one else in the family is a Newman fan, though I secretly root for him just because Big Guy would be over the moon to see him win. The fact that Newman drives the Army car has everything to do with Big Guy’s adoration but, still, it was his own decision to strike out on his own and pick his “own” driver.

Big Guy loves Newman like he loves no other sports figure except for Kobe Bryant. I actually like Newman better – he graduated from college and hasn’t been caught up in any scandals involving adulterous sex.

I’ve been grateful since the spring, when Big Guy started following the Lakers, that Bryant’s problems happened before Big Guy was born. Still, I wonder what I would have told him had he been old enough at the time to be aware of what was happening. What would I have told him if he’d been a Barry Bonds fan?

It had never occurred to me to have a game plan for what to do if his hero died as Big Guy watched on television. That was before he became a NASCAR fan, though.

My hand flew to my mouth, in part to cover up the “holy sh**” that was about the fly out, when Newman crashed near the end of the Sunday’s race. Big Guy’s eyes lit up at first – of course he loves the crashes – until he realized it was Newman’s car flying, spinning and flipping all over the track.

The car landed upside down in the infield and the house was quiet except for Boots’ giggles. He and Big Guy talk smack about each other’s drivers all day – Boots is a Montoya fan – and Boots was happy he was going to come out ahead.

“He could be hurt real bad, babes,” I told Boots gently. “Let’s see what happens.”

Except I didn’t want to see. During those interminable moments when there was no radio contact with the car, I feared for Newman and for my baby. It seemed improbable that anyone could crash like that without at best serious injuries, though driver Carl Edwards had sprinted away from a crash in April that looked just as bad.

Finally, the car was turned upright and Newman made contact with his pit crew. He was all right. I started breathing again. Big Guy remained quiet until Newman out of the car., not grinning again until he saw the driver walking. “I hope he can drive next week. I don’t think he’s going to race again today.”

The rest of the afternoon as the guys played Newman v. Montoya through the kitchen, there were new vehicles standing by – a fire truck and an ambulance.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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