The Sounds of NASCAR


Twice a year, when NASCAR comes to Richmond International Raceway, I get really excited and my Twitter feed gets really pissy.

Judging by the tweets I see on race days, a sizable portion of the people whose interests usually align with mine wouldn’t go near the track if you paid them. Phrases like “worst day in Richmond” get thrown around left and right, and blanket accusations of racism are routinely levied against the 90,000 strong who flock to RIR for the day-long tailgate and ensuing 400-lap race.

In fairness, NASCAR’s far from perfect. As an organization, they’ve lagged behind Formula One and Indy in taking steps to reduce carbon emissions. Certainly not ideal. There’s also the consumer culture it fosters. Large, sometimes predatory corporations set up elaborate hospitality tents just outside the track, offering swag and samples in exchange for contact information, and racing teams line up dozens of brightly colored trailers in rows, hawking the overpriced, driver-branded merchandise that a staggering percentage of the crowd buys and wears, yours truly very much included. Because of all this, attending isn’t exactly a guilt-free exercise. But racism? Of the dozen-ish Saturdays I’ve spent at the raceway complex, racism played a significant role in exactly zero of them. Are there racists at RIR? I’m sure there are, just as I’m sure you could find them at Richmond Flying Squirrels games, Innsbrook After Hours concerts, the Greek Festival, Shamrock The Block, or any other situation in which a large number of people is assembled in one place. But calling a stadium full of people racist without meeting or talking to them is blatantly prejudicial, and it does nothing to advance racial sensitivity in our community.

I see it as a classic baby-bathwater situation. Sure, you can decide to never, ever go to a NASCAR race and write off the whole thing as a herd of drunk rednecks watching a few dozen sober rednecks drive around in a circle. But you’d be missing out on some of the beautiful — yes, beautiful — things I saw two Saturdays ago. The middle aged couple seated near where I was, so in love that it seemed like they spent more time smiling at one another and giving each other pecks on the cheek than they did watching the race. The family just in front of them, three generations all in one place, together, enjoying the same crisp and cloudless spring night. (The decked-out dogs at the top of the post aren’t so bad, either.) That’s heartwarming, soul-replenishing stuff. If you’re willing to look past people’s tattoos and t-shirts, you can find these scenes of excitement and bonding everywhere.

There’s a hidden depth to the tailgate scene as well, especially when it comes to music. You’d expect to find a bunch of pickup trucks with their windows rolled down playing Kenny Chesney and Skynyrd (OK, so I may have played a little Skynyrd — it was the Drive-By Truckers version of “Gimme Three Steps” if that makes it any better), but once again, when you dig a little deeper, there’s so much more going on. I decided to take a few videos as my F-150 owning friend Keith and I walked around the lot so you fine folks could get a sample of the all the non-country than can be found at one of these shindigs…

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Wiz Khalifa

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is underway, and twelfth-seeded VCU scored a big win over fifth-seeded Wichita State last night, upping the Rams’ two-year tourney record to 6-1. That’s just bonkers. Shaka Smart is a total badass, and VCU’s was easily the most exciting game of the day. And I say all this from the perspective of a University of Richmond grad who is currently licking his wounds from a pretty cruddy season that didn’t even come close to resulting in an NCAA tournament berth. But the Rams’ win over Wichita State has me feeling like it’s 2011 all over again. I’ll never forget how supportive the city of Richmond was of both teams last year, when UR made it to the Sweet 16 and VCU plowed ahead into the Final Four. It was so much fun to cheer for VCU after UR was knocked out, so it feels totally natural to do the same now. I watched last night’s game with a friend who’s a grad student at VCU, and once the win was secure, he had what I gather is a fairly typical reaction — he snagged the nearest AUX OUT cable, plugged it into his phone and blasted “Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa (I was told to mention here that VCU’s colors are actually black and gold, but I’m pretty sure everyone’s cool overlooking this particular technicality in this particular context). While this victory anthem played and my Twitter feed started filling up with ecstatic posts (a welcome break from the jealousy-inducing SXSW tweets), I started searching on Hype Machine for a remix of the song that could keep the celebration going. As you can see, there are a zillion of them, and no one of them could truly capture the excitement in the air, so I did the only reasonable thing — I played every one I could get my hands on at the same time and recorded the ensuing din for posterity. Without further ado, I present to you, in honor of Shaka’s 6 tourney wins in just 2 years, 6 remixes of “Black and Yellow” being played simultaneously. These include [taking a deep breath] the “Morsy Bklyn Booty Mix,” the “Big Gigantic and Samples Remix,” the “Go Periscope Remix,” Xavier Pryce’s “Wack And Yellow,” a version from DJ Kue, the “Mister Gray Dubstep Edit,” and last, but certainly not least, something called the the “DJ Smerk Transition.” By making it through the whole thing, you’ll be displaying the exact same fighting spirit that has earned VCU their impressive tournament record. You may also be damaging your hearing. Listen below (I’ve also included the original to cleanse your aural palate afterwards), and best of luck to the Rams in Saturday’s game against Indiana!

DJ You Hear That — “Six Remixes Of Black And Yellow Playing Simultaneously

Wiz Khalifa — “Black and Yellow