Saturday, 12:45 p.m. – Russ Dillingham and I got to Oxford Plains Speedway at just about lunch time. We called track officials, and they escorted us (we felt like part of a parade) through a maze of dirt paths and roads. As we drove around, we took note of the multiple sets of campers and tents.
12:55 p.m. – We finally got a spot. It feels a bit more remote than we though it would be, but just beyond our location, there is a tenting area that looks like a mini town. It’s a dead end, cul-de-sac type of situation, and everyone was already out cooking lunch and drinking, uh, beverages.
1:30 p.m. – Lunch time. Russ and I took a quick trip to Walmart, snagged some turkey sausages, burgers, deli meat and bread and made some sandwiches. It was relaxing, really. For a few minutes, it really did feel like camping. And then the rumbling started again. You always know when something is going on at the track, because you can always hear it. And you can always tell which division is running practice laps, based on the sound of the cars’ engines — higher pitched for smaller cars, and low, rumbling for Late Models. The loudest were the Modifieds, which tickled ears even in the campground.
1:45 p.m. – There is a truck in the campground trying to fill as many people into its payload as they can. Many of the folks they’re picking up to ride in the back have, uh, beverages with them, and they are being rowdy and loud. They are also being cheered on by everyone they pass. Having fun, much? Oh yes.
2:00 – 4:00 p.m. – Russ and I take a walk over to the garage and pit area. He had some photos to shoot for the paper, and figured I’d tag along to see what Mike and Ben Rowe’s status might be, find out where Robbie Crouch, Terry LaBonte and company were set up, and maybe find some good stuff to write about. The camp ground, I figured it might still be there when we got back. After all, the folks there were saving their energy for the big concert tonight.
4:15 p.m. – Back to the campsite for a quick fill of water and to grab equipment to head to the grandstands for the night racing. The Modifieds, Mini-Stocks and Strictly Stocks all raced a bevy of qualifiers and consis, starting at 6:30 p.m.
6:30 p.m. – Racing starts
7:50 p.m. – With a quick glance over to the camping area from atop the grandstands in the press box, you can see plumes of smoke starting to rise from various spots beyond the trees. Barbecues and bonfires are likely on tap tonight.
8:45 p.m. – Russ transmits his final race photo about now, and we packed up and headed out to the camping area. Driving the 800 yards back to our site was nearly impossible with the hundreds of staggering bodies already out and about.
9:30 p.m. – Finally back at the site, Russ and I cook up some burgers and sausages on the grill, and take a moment to relax. This is going to be a long, long night.
10:00 p.m. – Fireworks start popping off from various campsites, and for sure they are not sanctioned, and likely illegal. Nice to watch, though.
10:10 p.m. – From our campsite, which has all of a sudden been overrun with people. (When we left at 4:30, there was no one around but us and one other tenter. Now, there are cars jammed in all over the place.) The song “Buttons” by the Pussycat Dolls is blaring from a car just 100 feet away as the area I have come to describe as “tent city” starts to bustle. They’ve started their own small bonfire there. Laughter, joking around and grills sizzling can be heard all over the place.
10:14 p.m. – More fireworks. The people setting up the concert have finished with that, and a local opening act is warming up the crown for Dead Season.
10:30 p.m. – We took a stroll over to one of the more infamous spots on the grounds that, over the years, has become a welcome sight for many of the campers. Here, one camper with two giant, blue barrells on top of a staging area offers the chance to women to bare their breasts. Some of the more approving men in the crowd offered money as the blue barrells, filled with water, soak the willing women. At this point, this has drawn a bigger crowd than the band has.
10:45 p.m. – More fireworks. Don’t these people know this is illegal. Ha. By this point, the big bonfire in the center of the field is raging. Its flames lick the night sky, and the burning embers cast shadows of awe-struck onlookers across the field. What a sight, to see so many people who had at one time been rowdy and on the verge of unmanageable become entranced by something as simple as a flame.
11:00 p.m. – Dead Season finally opens up their set. Not my style of music, but for plenty of people here, it is. Great crowd, great response.
11:30 p.m. – We meet Boozy. A gentleman wearing a New England Patriots’ jersey with the moniker “Boozy” across the back is building his own campfire — his way. He dragged brush that had been cut to create his campsite a week earlier into the fire at a pace that, had he continued, might have helped his ring of fire rival the large bonfire in the center of the field. The cops came over and put the hammer down on that idea.
Sunday 12:10 p.m. – Dead Season is wrapping up its set. The band played to the crowd well, and even got the chance to sign autographs – on naked breasts. Saturday night at Oxford Plains Speedway is starting to resemble Woodstock: Oxford Edition.
12:30 a.m. – A quick check at Fat Guy’s sausage stand reveals a business, which had opened at 6 a.m., still very much in business. A line formed down the street for these fattening yet wholely satisfying treats. The best part for campers? They didn’t have to try to cook these things themselves.
1:00 a.m. – Russ and I have had it. We’ve circled the lot, talked to peop[le about being here for the weekend, for the week and, in come cases, for the month. There aren’t too many people who are as tired as we are, and if there are, they are too inebriated to notice.
1:35 a.m. – Russ crawled into his van-turned-camper for the night, and I into my tent. The tent city is still rocking. Next door, bottles continue to clink and people begin to yell and scream. In the field, beyond the trees behind us, a truck that had been stuck in mud for half the day was finally free after getting a tow from some folks with a big ol’ 4×4. The people there are quite pleased with that result.
2:15 a.m. – I think this is about where I finally nodded off.
4:15 a.m. – First light always brings me around when I’m camping. This is the case again this morning. No sun yet, but enough light to see outside. Dewy, and cool. Amazingly, tent city is still crackling, and voices can still be heard.
5:25 a.m. – The guys next door depart in a truck that made my 1983 Chevy Blazer (that I got rid of five years ago) seem like a Cadillac. The screeching is unbearable as they try to get it running, and fumes aren’t much better. Finally, they drive off.
5:30 a.m. – The alarm goes off. Tent city is still rocking, and they seem to have found a second wind. Lord only knows if they’ve got the stamina to last through race day. I wouldn’t.
6:05 a.m. – Into the pits. Race day is here, and lines of cars – most of them ACT drivers and their crews – are waiting to enter the pit gate. Bags are searched, and everyone files through.
6:30 a.m. – Tech opens, and lines of cars, preparred the night before, get ready to pass (or fail) inspection before officially being allowed to enter the race. There is practice today, starting at 8 a.m.
7:05 a.m. – The line for tech grows as people are readying for morning practice. From the press booth at the track, smoke wafts over the camping area like a dense fog, and as it lifts, it hovers much longer than a normal fog in the early-morning sun.
8:36 a.m. – The stories are done, the audio is fed and the track is filled with cars practicing. Time for coffee and breakfast.