the boos were more heartfelt than thernchants of “Bush! Bush! Bush!” that a fewrnpeople tried to start. Clinton, his gluedonrnsmile unbroken, shouted the traditionalrn”Gentlemen, start your engines”rnover the jeers and catcalls and beat arnhasty retreat as the mighty machinesrnrolled out behind the pace car, enginesrnthrobbing and growling. They circledrnthe track at highway speed; then at therngreen flag, with an unimaginable blast ofrnengine noise, took off.rnThere are better places than here tornread about racing, and better informedrnwriters to tell you about it. I’ll just sayrnthat I now begin to understand the appealrnof the sport. As the author of StandrnOn It puts it, “This is so different fromrnracing Indy-type ears you can’t believe it.rnThere are folks who wet their pants everyrntime they hear one of these big bastardrnNASCAR machines roar to life.”rnThe noise, the speed, the vivid colors,rnthe pit crews’ feverish work—all of thisrnhas a visceral appeal to anyone whoserninner child is an East Tennessee 16-yearold.rnWhen those mighty cars arcrnscreaming past you 20 feet away at 150rnmiles an hour you truly appreciate thernbravery of the drivers, whose skill andrnpreparation arc the only things standingrnbetween them and death. It takes a realrnhero—no kidding—to go out and facernthat every weekend and to do it with thernself-deprecating insouciance so characteristicrnof these men. (From Stand OnrnIt, again, Sam Bisby’s Law: “It is uselessrnto step on the brakes when your ear isrnupside down.”)rnA couple of months later, when Pettyrnwas fixing to run the Hooters 500 in Atlantarn—his last race, period—CBS television,rnfor no apparent reason, sent arncrew around to ask me to comment onrnhis status as a Southern cultural icon.rnThe Yankee interviewer kept asking whyrnKing Richard is so admired in the South,rnand I tried to tell him, but he didn’trnseem to like what I said. Anyway, hernkept rephrasing the question. I think hernwanted me to sav that Southerners likernPetty because we lost the Civil War andrnhe gives us something to be proud of.rnBut I wasn’t going to say that. I mean,rnone, we’re not stupid enough to believernthat anyone will think better of us forrnhaving good stockcar drivers; two. Southernersrnwho are looking for something tornbe proud of are found in Atlanta fernbars,rnnot at the Darlington Raceway;rnand, three, I’m not sure that most racernfans are aware that we lost the war.rnAnyway, I felt so uneasy about the interviewrnthat I didn’t watch the news thatrnnight. Some of my friends say theyrncaught me pontificating on national TV,rnbut it’s interesting that none of themrncan remember what I said. I hope I saidrnthat white Southern working-class folkrnadmire Petty because he has qualitiesrnthat white Southern working-class folkrnadmire—like skill, courage, humility,rnand sly humor.rnWe watched enthralled for a time,rnthen figured we’d better get back tornwork (and forage for lunch), so wernnipped over to the Clinton-Gore compoundrnto cop some hotdogs and seernwhat the Democrats were up to. Therncompound consisted of a couple of trailersrnsurrounded by ehainlink fence,rnguarded by several burly security menrnin ties and gimme caps. The Clintonites,rnstill waiting for their candidate torncome shake hands, included a couple ofrnapparent Junior Leaguers and a male sociologyrnprofessor from a nearby college,rnand they all looked seriously out of theirrnelement. The reporters traveling withrnClinton were not a down-home crowdrneither (unlike the sports reporters we’drnbeen hanging out with in the MediarnCenter). Most had beat a path straightrnback to the campaign’s air-conditionedrntrailer, where someone took postcrboardrnand markers and made a sign that saidrn”Make Love Not Stockcar Races.” Insidernthey pecked away on laptops andrnused the phone bank to file their storiesrnabout the candidate’s chilly reception,rnwhich seemed to distress and puzzlernmost of them. My buddy and I, everrnhelpful, tried to explain to some thatrnthe real story was that not e’erybody hadrnbeen booing. Sure, nobody was takingrnClinton’s bumper-stickers or buying thern$10 T-shirts, but nobody was firebombingrnthe trailer, either. We told them thatrnwas bad news for Bush, but they didn’trnseem to believe us.rnMy buddy and I gobbled our hotdogsrn(I guess we’ll be paying for them for thernnext four years) and went off for one lastrnlook at the infield crowd, most of themrnnow perched on top of their trailers andrnvans, studying the race intently. A completern500-mile race would require 367rnlaps of the oval track, four hours or so,rnbut the intricate Winston Cup scoringrnsystem awards points for a great manyrnthings besides where one finishes, andrnthere is always the possibility of a collisionrnto keep the fan attentive. I confessrnthat we left early, after nearly threernhours, with an eye on the gatheringrnstorm clouds and a desire to get awayrnbefore the other 95,000 fans decided torndo the same. We were headed back tornNorth Carolina when we heard on therncar radio that rain had stopped the race,rnat least temporarily. A couple of hoursrnlater we were drinking beer in a tavern inrnWadesboro, talking with a bail bondsmanrnand watching some of his clientsrnplay bumper pool, when the televisionrnjohnnies interrupted their interviewsrnwith drivers and mechanics to announcernthat the race had been called for good.rnThe bumper-pool game stopped andrnwe all turned our attention to the televisionrnfor the final wrap-up. Most of therndiscussion centered on the fact thatrnDavey Allison had been in contentionrnwhen the race was stopped. A victoryrnfor Allison would have added the “WinstonrnMillion” (a million dollars for anyonernwho wins three of the four most difficultrnraces) to the $1.3 million he hadrnalready won in 1992. But Darrell Waltriprnhad gambled that the rain wouldrnbegin and passed up a fuel stop, so hernhad been leading when the red flagrncame out and consequently won thernrace. Asked how much fuel he had leftrnat the end, Waltrip grinned and said,rn”About a million dollars worth.”rnA couple of months later, as yournknow. Bill Clinton was ahead when thatrnother race was called.rnJohn Shelton Reed isn’t really a journalist,rnbut he’s willing to fake it. His dayrnjob is teaching at the University ofrnNorth Carolina, in Chapel Hill.rnLetter FromrnNew Yorkrnby Murray N. RothbardrnThe Year of the ItalianrnNonwomanrnIt was late October, and my old friendrnwas very depressed: “I’m not interestedrnin any of these guys,” he said of all thernpresidential candidates. “I’m only interestedrnin one thing in this election.”rnHis voice grew warmer: “The reelectionrn44/CHRONICLESrnrnrn