The racers of Anderson seem to be searching for a singular moment in the sunshine. Life in Anderson is cold, cloudy and the forecast gets gloomier everyday. Friday night at the track is their chance to be somebody, to shake their fist at the steam-roller of life that has flattened everybody else and shout "Not This Time Buddy."
The car - and the freedom and mobility it bestows - has always been part of America's identity. In High School, I still remember the excitement when Dad came home with a new car. The whole neighborhood came over. I remember family road trips and the feeling of freedom, and sort of poor man's manifest destiny that the car provided. I even secured a 1954 - junk Ford - with the illusion that I could fix it up, make it run, and that girls would want to drive around with me (spectacularly unsuccessful on all counts). Well put the car culture on steroids and you have Anderson, Indiana. When I was a kid we grew up with a baseball in our hand. In Anderson, it's a wrench.
The passions that car racing unleashes are sort of a surprise to New Yorkers; the screaming fans, the rivalries on and off the track. Most of us city folk don't know who the current NASCAR champ is. But everybody in Anderson, Indiana knows who #26 is: Sammy Hawkins. And that's what Dirty Driving is all about.
I admire Sammy Hawkins and his fellow drivers. It is a tough life in Anderson. They experienced the sub-prime mortgage crisis a decade before the rest of America knew what sub-prime was. But they don't quit. And I know if I cut them off, they are slamming me into the wall.
Gentlemen (and Ladies) start your engines!