ter of New York, of tliat “numb brilliantrnjittery city” (as Malcolm Lowry andrnJulien Green wrote nearly 50 years ago;rnthey must have meant the traffic andrnthe hustle, but now that jitteriness is allrninside). Here a somewhat chilly cozincssrnexists but still with some measurernof an interior tradition. Cold comfort.rn]ohn Lukacs is a professor of historyrnat Chestnut Hill College inrnPhiladelphia.rnLetter From thernLower Rightrnby John Shelton ReedrnRace Politics, Part Two—rnClinton for President,rnPetty for KingrnWelcome to Darlington. The cradle ofrnSouthern stock car racing. The sport wasrnborn near here the first time a U.S. Revenuernagent figured that he could catch arnmoonshiner running along a twisty hackrnroad with a car load of booze. No way….rnDarlington is tradition. First of the bigrntracks in the Southland, the granddaddyrnof them all. The land of racing heroes.rn—from Stand On It, by “Stroker Ace”rnThe morning of the 45rd annualrnSouthern 500, back in September, foundrnme and my buddy hanging out at DarlingtonrnRaceway, posing as journalists.rnWe talked to fans about the upcomingrnstockcar race and also about the upcomingrnpresidential race (a contest thatrnmost seemed to be trying to forget). Irnlearned, first, that the circus factions ofrnOld Byzantium had nothing on the rivalryrnbetween the partisans of Ford andrnChevrolet and, second, that GeorgernBush was in trouble. Bush had about arntwo-to-onc edge among those we talkedrnto, and a third or so were undecided,rnbut that wasn’t good enough for whatrnshould have been a solidly anti-Democrat,rnif not pro-Republican, crowd, onernthat had gone literally 99 to 1 for Bushrnover Dukakis four years earlier. Werndidn’t run into anyone who was actuallyrnunemployed (they couldn’t have affordedrnthe steep admission), but the subjectrnwas on people’s minds. What we heardrntoo often for Bush’s comfort was encapsulatedrnas the chorus of a country song arnfew weeks later: “Saddam Hussein stillrnhas a job, but I don’t.” Since Ross Perotrnwas temporarily not in the running, thatrnleft Bill Clinton, but there wasn’t muchrnenthusiasm for him either. In a couplernof hours Clinton would serve as thernSouthern 500’s Grand Marshal, facingrnwhat he must have known would be arnhostile crowd, and I admit I gave him arnlittle grudging admiration for not callingrnin sick.rnAfter we finished our informal poll,rnwe went on to the garage area, wherernhoi polloi like Clinton were not allowedrn(he couldn’t find an owner or driver willingrnto introduce him). Breezing past therncrowd pressed up against the chainlinkrnfence hoping for a glimpse of the drivers,rnwc held out our press credentials andrntried to look authentically nonchalantrnand arrogant. It must have worked, becausernthe guard waved us through. Inside,rnpowerful unmuffled engines roared,rnand men in bright primary colors bentrnover and crawled under matchingcoloredrnFords, Chevrolets, and Pontiacs,rnplastered with commercial sponsors’ insignia.rnThe cars looked larger than life,rnand certainly they were larger than thernIbyotas, Flondas, and BMWs that havernpretty much taken their places on thernstreets where I come from. My buddyrntook a chaw of tobacco, and we stoodrnwatching, talking with some other onlookersrnabout the threatening weather,rnyelling at each other over the blats andrnroars of the engines. As the mechanicsrnbegan to roll the cars out to their startingrnpositions, we spied a crowd gatheringrnand went over to sec what was up. Itrnwas a chapel service, apparently a regularrnfeature of these races, conducted by arnfull-time itinerant NASCAR chaplain.rnWe stood with the drivers and mechanicsrnand their families as the preacher ledrnus in song (“God is so good to me,” “Hernsaved my soul,” “He’s coming soon”),rnread a Bible passage, and delivered a littlernhomily. (Only later, after I saw whatrnracing looks like up close and beganrnreally to understand the danger and skillrnand luck it involves, did I think of bullfightersrnpraying before a fight.)rnAfter the service, we left the garagernarea, walked through a tunnel under therntrack, and rode an elevator to the pressrnbox beside the grandstand, where werntook a couple of empty seats and helpedrnourselves to some of the free goodiesrnprovided for the “media.” We were settlingrnin to eat the free lunch when arnNASCAR p.r. man asked to sec our credentials,rnwhich turned out not to be potentrnenough for the pressbox. Chronicles’rninfluence only goes so far, I guess.rnAsked politely to leave, we politely left,rnto find that in the meantime we’drnmissed the inferior cold cuts at the infieldrnMedia Center. One of the regularrnNASCAR reporters told us there werernhotdogs at the Clinton-Gore trailer, butrnthings were starting to happen on thernstage facing the grandstand, so we scurriedrnover to watch, pausing on the way tornshake hands with Strom Thurmond,rnstraw-hatted against the sun and workingrnthe crowd even though he wouldn’t bernup for reelection any time soon.rnOn the platform Governor CarrollrnCampbell of South Carolina introducedrnthe legendary driver Richard Petty, whornwas driving in his last South Carolinarnrace. The governor’s every mention ofrnPetty’s name evoked cheers and applausernfrom the otherwise thoroughly indifferentrncrowd. Petty stood there, lean andrnmean in shades and a cowboy hat, smilingrnbeatifically as the governor proclaimedrnRichard Petty Day and awardedrnhim the Order of the Palmetto.rnSoon after Petty left to go get in hisrncar there was a commotion behind usrnas Clinton, his handlers, go-fers, andrnaccompanying press showed up.rnFrom thirty feet away Clinton lookedrnmuch fatter than I’d thought, almostrnKenncdyesquc. I was startled, until itrnoccurred to me that he probably had arnbulletproof vest on under his pulloverrnsport shirt. For his sake, I hoped so: despiternthe Secret Service men glaringrnfrom behind their shades, 20,000 of usrnor so had a clear shot, and nobody’drnchecked me for weapons. During the invocationrnand national anthem, therncrowd fell silent and removed their hatsrnfor probably the only time that day.rnMost of the Clinton press kept right onrnchatting and jockeying for camera angles,rnbut I was pleased to see the Atlantarnjournal-Constitution reporter uncoverrnand pay attention.rnDuring all this, an airplane circledrnoverhead towing a banner that read “NOrnDRAFT DODGER FOR PRESIDENT,”rnand when Clinton was introducedrnhe was roundly booed, to the obviousrndistress of the reporters we werernstanding with. I noticed, however, thatrnFEBRUARY 1993/43rnrnrn