I recently visited the Accord Speedway, a quarter-mile, dirt racetrack in New York's Catskills region, for a piece for the Aesthete, an online journal of arts and culture. Of course, I fell in love with the place and ended up writing something that was about four times the length they wanted. The cut-down version, titled "Start Your Engines," is up on their site now, along with a short film and photos from filmmaker Poppy de Villeneuve. For those who have never been to a track like Accord, a little background, from the piece:
Grassroots racing is a low margins business, but short, dirt racetracks like Accord, which opened in 1962, are the bedrock of American car racing. They emerged as dirt track racing grew in popularity during the 1920s and 1930s, and there are over a thousand of them across the country, mostly in small, rural communities. The drivers who ply these tracks, for the most part, do not have NASCAR dreams. They are hobbyists and enthusiasts, and this is less a farm system than league night at the bowling alley. They are the local bar band that plays rocking covers with a few soulful originals mixed in. Most of these drivers will spend their entire racing careers on the short tracks, in the dirt, at places like Accord.
Read the rest of it here, and check out my flickr set for a little more on what it looks like. And watch this space for more updates, as I'm sure I'll be heading back up to Accord and writing more about it.