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Dale Earnhardt

TL;DR: The following is a cry for help for football to get here, and also a record of the only time a #teen will ever get roasted by us.

Summer is easily the most overrated season. We know that for a large portion of the country, it offers the only chance to be warm, to wear shorts, to day drink in shorts, and to stock up on Vitamin D for the rest of the year while day drinking and wearing shorts. We admit that, and also respect the bravery of Michiganders boldly trotting out the corpselike skin of their ashy legs to meet sunshine for the first time since August of last year.


Summer in the South, though. It’s a lot. It’s all a lot, just an unrelenting continuation of hot late spring, which rolls into summer which then rolls into early Autumn. There are Indian Summers on either side, called that because it indicates an extension of a summer as humid and hot as Hyderabad in August. It’s all just a consolidated block of fascist humidities, blasting sunlight, and aggressively hoarding future credit in the Bank of Skin Cancer.

That comes before considering what to do with kids without school. Planning camps is a small organizational hell. A micro-hell, really, relative to other adult hells, but still. At one point, with two children, there will be one week where one child will be unscheduled.

This is all a way of explaining how we ended up at an indoor electric go-kart track in the middle of a weekday afternoon last month, and what happened when we had one of the shining, brilliant moments that make fatherhood, adulthood, and staying alive past the age of 30 worth it.

We spun out a #teen at a go-kart track in the Dale Earnhardt #3 car.

It wasn’t our fault. It really wasn’t. We were racing against two brothers. The rest of their family sat just over the wall. The setup of the place was very F1, and this family looked very NASCAR. This was especially true of what we guessed was the grandfather. He leaned on the rail with a scowl, and looked like he had very definite opinions about passing offenses and Hispanics.

These were electric go-karts. Un-American! you say, but holy shit: There is zero delay in power to the wheels, and they take the hell off with an unnerving immediacy. Our older son got going so fast he tried to make a turn around another kid and discovered that walls are undefeated in all contests. He broke the steering rod on a go-kart he does not own and that we are not liable for in trying to pass a slower child on the track. This is basically a perfect outcome for a father, and a moment of real, cost-free pride.

The little kids raced separately from everyone else because someone finally figured out that putting adults and their children on the same go-kart track at speed always ends in tears.

From experience and by looking at the posted lap times — not an invitation for compulsive competition at all, NOPE —the two NASCAR-type family #teens were slower than us on the track. Don’t be too surprised. For some reason, in a life completely devoid of athletic talent, we have the ability to drive well at speed. It’s probably a combination of ADHD, a lack of self-preservation instinct, and a decent “ass-ometer,” but generally we can make a car do cool shit at speed. That a good overhead press, and a reasonable ability to absorb punishment were all we got in the genetic lottery.

When we got going, we moved along pretty quickly. The plot begins when, After passing both of the #teens once each and coming up on them as lap traffic, the older #teen actively started blocking me.

Now pause, and listen to the Whitest Dad Thing we will ever say:

This was behavior explicitly forbidden by the rules of the Family Fun Center.

He went right, we went left, he went left. He got a warning from the lone dude futilely waving the blue and red “LET PASS” flag at him. He stayed blocking anyway, even through the next lap when the track attendant held up a “LET PASS” sign at him. He wasn’t fast, but to his credit, the #teen was pretty good at blocking. For two laps, he was an outright obstruction.

Now: A better driver would have passed. We fully admit this. Then again, looking over at the grandfather grinning along the wall, and our son theoretically watching at least some of this in between firing tokens into freestanding Jurassic Park game, we could not let this aggression stand. There are moments in life when Ayrton Senna will do, but if Ayrton Senna is not available, then something else will have to suffice. There was an example to set, like when you don’t want to brush your teeth but have to because the children have to brush their teeth, too. Combat driving is basically hygiene, shut up, it is.

Then we remembered: We were driving the #3 car.

[“Free Bird” begins playing]

We hadn’t even tapped him yet, not once in two and a half laps of living right on his bumper. On a hairpin turn about half way through lap three, we peeked outside to get the #teen to swerve to the right. He did. The #teen was already diving back left to cut off the slim-to-nothing passing lane on the inside when we honored the ancestors by whipping the wheel to the right with the accelerator pinned to the floor.

[Free Bird intensifies]

Then, at full speed, we put the bumper of the go-kart into the left side of his ride. He tried to steer through it, but the #teen’s go-kart slid along the right side of ours before spinning counter-clockwise and coming to a stop dead in the middle of the track. It didn’t stay still for long. The #teen told us right after the race that his brother smacked into him a second later coming around the turn.

That part isn’t wish fulfillment. That’s just solid racin’, with more than a little bit of rubbin’. This next part, however, is.

[“Free Bird” reaches maximum intensity]

At an indoor go-kart track in the middle of a weekday during the shitty sopping heat of a Georgia summer, as an adult man with a child possibly watching, in front of the #teen’s family watching, we sped past holding up three fingers. They couldn’t hear the low “woooooooooooooooooo” through the racing headsock and helmet, but that didn’t matter.

Somewhere out there in that great tri-oval of a cosmos, the Intimidator heard it loud and clear.