|The Back Forty
By Roger Pond
Hey! I was only kidding. I didn’t think they’d do it.
When racetrack promoters were looking for a location a few years ago I jokingly told folks, “Why would we want to build a racetrack out in the country and disturb the tranquility. Why not just block off some streets in town and race on Saturday nights?”
It made a lot of sense, I thought. The streets are already there, and the noise is muffled by the buildings to some extent. Still, I didn’t think they’d do it.
They called it “Smokin’ Joe’s Tire Burnout Contest,” blocked off a street next to the courthouse, and spent the afternoon burning tires off cars. (“To each his own,” as they say.)
Engines roared, smoke rolled, and folks had a great time, as I understand it. MTV even sent out a crew to film the burnout and talk with people who hadn’t breathed too much smoke and rubber.
Organizers report 1,500 to 2,000 people came to town for this event. That’s probably more than we used to get for a hanging! (We’ve only had one hanging. So far.)
It all seemed kind of crazy when I first suggested racing cars in the middle of town, but that just shows how little I know about crazy. The city reports the street was only slightly scarred, and folks who live downwind apparently recovered within a few days.
Smokin’ Joe’s Tire Burnout had much the same ambiance of Saturday night NASCAR: Noise, smoke, and police security. It seems funny what used to get you arrested might now get you a trophy.
Every small town faces this dilemma: How do we bring more people into town without smoking out the residents?
I remember a public hearing in a nearby town many years ago. This community needed jobs. It needed tourists. Some folks thought it needed almost anything.
Nearly everyone at the hearing was in favor of using a parcel of land near the river for an industrial park. They wanted jobs, and this seemed like the best way to get them.
Only one fellow spoke against the industrial park. He said there are many kinds of economic development.
If the parcel by the river was retained in its natural state, maybe more folks would visit the area; and this would help businesses and create more jobs.
That never happened, of course, but it sounded good at the time.
All of this came to mind a few years ago when I was buying fish bait on the coast. The woman who sold me the bait said she spent her honeymoon in our little town.
That set me back a little. I’d never thought of our community as a honeymoon destination.
Then I realized this town was probably an ideal honeymoon spot at one time. Nice and quiet with absolutely nothing to do.
This farm news was published in the May 24, 2006 issue of Farm World.