Imagine an intersection with no stop signs. And no speed limit. And everyone hellbent on beating everyone else through it.
That’s figure-8 racing on the high-banked, quarter-mile oval at Anderson Speedway. The hair-raising thrill of watching the race would be exceeded only by the bladder-purging chaos of driving in it.
Well, I witnessed Saturday night’s figure-8 event in person. It was my first time. And now I’ve been ruined for all other racing.
Watching is enough for me. I’ll never drive in a figure 8 on account of principally one consideration:
• I want to live.
Figure-8 racing is a lot like other auto racing. Except that you crisscross the infield. And you encounter other cars going in a different direction. And it helps to have a total disregard for human life.
Saturday was The Herald Bulletin Appreciation Night at the speedway, so the newspaper had a suite there.
At the outset of each race, those in our suite would predict which car would win. My strategy was to pick a car starting near the front that wasn’t too banged up, reasoning that defensive driving is always the best policy.
Here’s what I learned: If you ain’t rubbin’, you ain’t racin’. And unblemished cars — like nice guys — rarely finish first.
Anyway, after getting shut out on my predictions all night long, I picked car No. 9 in the figure 8 feature feature, the last race. The No. 9 car was one of only two with what I dubbed “wings,” clear plastic shield doohickeys sticking straight up from the hind quarter. These impressed me as a technological advantage.
I’m not sure whether it was his wings or his cojones — probably both — but that driver, Nick Warner, was amazing in the figure 8. He hit the turns at breakneck speed and whooshed past the other cars like they were minnows in a salmon run. At least a half-dozen times, Warner came within a tailpipe of smashing into other racers roaring into the infield intersection from another direction.