Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mud Man

There is a raceway in Atomic City, that is located on the edge of town.
Over the years the raceway has gradually transitioned from a large and bustling production to a more down scaled production.
Even from last summer to this, it has become a noticeably (and thankfully) smaller affair.
Every year in August the race organizers host a major event called the Wild West Tour.
Last year, after only being in quiet Atomic City for a few weeks at that point, LC and I watched bemused and surprised as hundreds of racers and family members, car trailers and huge campers noisily descended on this tiny town in preparation for the big racing shindig.
Racing was Friday night and Saturday night, and for a couple of days prior to the start of the event folks wandered into town from many states and parked their monstrous rigs in usually empty green spaces throughout town.
The raceway grounds, the town park, the little RV park, a few residents driveways and yards........all full.
Drivers spent the days prior to (and then the days of) getting their cars ready for the evening races, while family members noisily and speedily tooled through town on four wheelers, completely disregarding the fact that they had actually descended on a real town.  With real people who called this place their real home.
For one noisy weekend the residents of Atomic City were the outsiders.
By the time the frenetic people moving at their frenetic pace blew out of town very late on Saturday night or very early on Sunday morning, LC and I were more than pleased to see them go.
Of course we had known about the raceway before we bought the house so had little reason to complain.
But why Atomic City had ever voted to have a raceway in their town, when they had negotiated (and received) zero tangible benefits (financial or otherwise) from the business, was beyond me.
But it was what it was and it was a done deal long before LC and I had ever heard of a tiny, nothin' desert town in Idaho with the presumptuous name.
This year races have been less frequent and shorter in duration.  
Participant numbers are down and the raceway is for sale.
Who knows what the future will bring for Atomic Motor Raceway but this new resident would not be heart broken if the whole deal closed up shop for good and for always.
The Wild West Tour was  completely different this year than it was last year.
August of 2013 was a very hot and very dry month.  
August of 2014 has been wet and cold.
And so it went the weekend of the tour this year.  
Few vehicles and trailers and campers invaded the town in the days prior to the races, and by Friday morning it had been pouring with rain almost non-stop for a couple of days.
The raceway (as was the rest of the world in and around AC) was a cold, dreary and muddy mess.
By Friday evening the rain had stopped and after bundling up in sweater, rain jacket and wool hat to battle against the wind and damp cold, I walked with Kory to see how many vehicles had arrived unnoticed in the rain.................
Races were cancelled Friday night...................

Saturday morning the world was a little brighter but the forecast still threatened rain.
I walked with Kory again, eager to see the unexpectedly green world that we were now living in.
A good number of campers and trailers were haphazardly strewn throughout town.
 Drivers with pent-up race-energy were already drinking beer and aimlessly four-wheeling on muddy gravel roads in town - killing time while waiting for both the weather and racing prognosis.
 Water trucks were valiantly working overtime sucking water off the track.
 And race officials were standing on the track with their heads together trying to figure out what they could do to salvage at least some of the biggest racing weekend of the year....................
Although NOAA promised rain in Atomic City on Saturday, and the skies constantly threatened the release their pent up energy, nothing actually fell from the sky.
This year there were no grand trips out onto BLM land by family members of drivers.  No speeding trips through every street in town by both four wheeling adults and (more concerning) four wheeling and unhelmeted children.
This year there was little desert adventure.  Instead there was more cold.  More rain.  More waiting.  Fewer vehicles.
Racers finally revved their engines to begin racing at 7pm on Saturday evening, were done a little after midnight, and most were already sleeping in their own beds in their own homes by the time we woke to blue sky and sunshine on Sunday morning.
A fitting biggest-weekend-of-the-year, for a struggling dirt-track raceway...................
Late on Sunday afternoon I walked through town with Kory again, quietly relishing in the realization that we had our town back.  
That the interlopers were gone and that we could again reclaim our town as our own.
As me and my dog walked closer to the now-empty raceway I saw something in front of a house, and close to the edge of the road.
I had no idea what it was, but it was something new.
As I got closer I smiled inwardly.
Somebody over the past muddy and wet and cold weekend had figured a way to stay busy and kill some time.
Mud Man was only about two feet tall, but (aside from our resident town deer) he was the coolest, neatest thing that I had seen in town in a long time.
I hope Mud Man sticks around for a while.................

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