read various chapters of this autobiography by going to the Individual Stories menu to the right.

Tuesday, July 1, 1980

The Benton Speedbowl in the 1970's and early 80's. Now known as the I-30 Speedway.

My dad, known in the local car racing world  by his nickname "Tommy T Miller", was a fixture at what we called the Benton Speedbowl, but is now called the I-30 Speedway (www.i-30speedway.com).

My first visit to it ever was when I was about 5 or 6, with my aunt Rosemary, which makes no sense because she wasn't into racing. Later I began to go to the track on a regular basis with my dad in 70's. Just like our thing with drag racing (story here), going to the dirt track races meant going with Murray Draper and maybe his brother Tom or someone else.

For all who don't know what dirt track racing is, here you go: it is a kind of car racing with the track being oval, and not paved...dirt. The dirt is even wetted down a little. If you are thinking a car might slide on this, well, you are beginning to understand dirt tracking racing. The sport is not crazy sliding around out of control, there is an art to it, and a beauty. The cars go around the curves in an extremely graceful move of semi-out-of-controllness. It is hard to convey the movement with words. But basically they deliberately spin the cars sideways, maybe 135 degrees if you want to get precise....and drift backwards at over 100 miles an hour until the driver applies just the right pedal and steer to shoot the car down the next straight stretch.

Honestly, a movie (or real life) about a Japanese Zen Monk applying his focus to dirt track racing is entirely plausible. It is a good sport, which means it has riddles and depths no finite single person can fully master.

The cars are very rough. It is a contact sport. Only the "sprint cars" have something going on like a Formula One car. All the rest of the car types are big, with big tires for the mud, and with body parts usually busted from contact in those crazy spins around the curves semi out of control.

I am trying to decide whether to say rednecks proliferated this place, I am trying to be nice and not denigrate the place with name calling. So I go to the reader for some parsing of this. If you do not believe there is any such thing as rednecks, then I am not claiming rednecks were at this place. On the other hand if you believe there are rednecks, I can tell you that I saw a very strong...amazingly strong...showing of that constituency at this race track.

And we had fun.

One night stands out. It was Murray Draper, my dad and me that rode there together in my dad's 1970 Pontiac Bonneville. We watched the usual races. Then the track did a special gimmick crowd pleasing thing: they staged a race anyone could enter, using their own personal street cars. The only rule was that you couldn't have raced on the track before. You couldn't be a real "race car driver".

Driving fast, competitively fast, on a mud race track, adrenaline and maybe testosterone spiking. Recipe for.... Yeah, bad idea.

They all raced, a bunch of random cars and one pickup truck. The pickup won. No crashes, nothing besides just a bunch of cars struggling to go fast on a surface they weren't meant to go fast on. That's maybe why the truck with larger diameter tires won.

It was all not very exciting till after the race and the track was handing out the prizes for first place. It turned out the winner of the race had raced at the track in the hobby class (hobby class cars that are not worth $100, seriously, a rule for that class was anyone could buy your car in the pits for $100, this kept that honest). So the car had raced. But let's be serious, he wasn't a "race car driver" in that special sense most people mean.

So the person the PA said something to the effect that he was a previous driver, and he was not getting the first place prize. The driver was not happy, and stood in the middle of the track yelling and cussing. Then the person on  PA said something like "you need to leave or we will remove you".

That is when the driver went ballistic and started screaming "Get me....get me m****f*cker....GET ME!!!".

A really fat, short, small town sheriff's deputy came up and used his finger in the international motion of "come here" and the driver put his head down and walked to him.

My dad and Murray erupted in a relentless "get me m*therf*cker...GET ME". Over and over...."get me m*therf*cker...GET ME". Through the whole ride home "get me m*therf*cker...GET ME". And for years a common phrase between Murray and my dad was "get me m*therf*cker...GET ME".


Great resource for photos and info on the era of racing at this specific race track at: facebook.com/pages/Arkansas-Dirt-Track-Racing-Legends-Blasts-From-The-Past










The author of this blog also has two books available on Amazon. Athena Techne uses some of the autobiographical content of this blog and adds a philosophical perspective utilizing the ancient Greek god Athena.

Athena Techne :: Amazon.com Page



Autistic Crow Computer is a fiction set in Seattle, about an autistic boy and two crows. The book was written for young autistic readers, although reviews by non-autistics have been positive.

Autistic Crow Computer :: Amazon.com Page

1 comment:

  1. a family friend and former owner of the speedbowl took me around the track once in his pickup when I was a kid back in the seventies, I don't know how long ago he owned it, I think it had already changed hands by that time, his son was the track keeper at the time and had not yet watered it down so he let us go around one time, it was a fun memory from my childhood, I'm glad the place is still up and running

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