Saturday January 9 2016
Bright and early at 8:36 a.m. Elliott nudges me awake on the sleeper couch pullout bed. Time for a fun-filled day of racing.
We arrive back at the Williamston Indoor Karting racing track. The smell of exhaust and tire prep fill up my nostrils. You can hear a cacophony of all the pit crew's generators roaring in the air. The man on the loudspeaker commentating all the races and giving instructions reverberates everywhere so you know what's going on at any given time – he's got an auctioneer kind of voice.
Homemade Granola Almond Bars and Brown Rice Green Tea for breakfast.
Following Elliott around and helping transport his go-kart in and out of the track for him to run some practice laps.
Hard-boiled Eggs. Lentil Potato Curls. Apple.
I need a break from all the commotion and standing around. Power napping in Elliott's car.
Nate shows up to shoot the official footage for the racing documentary. He's got a killer camera and microphone that makes me a bit jealous. It's funny whenever people see a camera they want to be interviewed – they can't help but smile and enjoy the spotlight for a moment. We kind of work together to film Elliott's qualifying race. I take the bird's eye view and focus on zooming in on Elliott's kart while he takes the close-up view down at the bottom of the track. Elliott ends up qualifying 9th out of 19 in his class.
Snacking on Gummy Bears.
Now it's just a matter of waiting until his official race. Meanwhile, they've got go-karts racing on the track all day long, every class and age group all the way down to 6 years old. Meanwhile, Nate is capturing some great footage of everything and getting interviews. Elliott tries really hard to set up an interview with Amy, the organizer of the whole event but to no avail she is terribly shy. We even spend twenty minutes outside registration trying to convince her. She's apologetic about it but at least we tried.
At one point some guy approaches us and asks, "What y'all shootin'?"
"We're following this guy around," Nate says as he points to Elliott.
"Yeah, he's an important guy," Nate says.
The guy took it seriously.
Sipping on Oolong Tea.
There's a lot of standing and waiting around – not much else to do except watch the races or lounge in the trailer. It's not freezing cold but cold enough to stay wrapped up in a layer of jackets.
Salad with Quinoa and Bread.
In the trailer sitting in a foldout chair next to the propane heaters letting myself take another nap until it's time...
I take the bird's eye view again to watch Elliott's official race. While watching I get nervous for him. We've already seen two people get rolled out on stretchers in the past two days. But he drives smart, avoiding multiple pile ups and crashes, and manages to creep up in the rankings one lap at a time. In the end he finishes with 3rd place. It's a victory in our eyes. $300 was the first place prize. He gets $75. Talking with him afterwards you can tell he's happy with the race. He accomplished everything he wanted being here.
Snacking on Licorice and Popcorn.
We show our support and watch Allie, Dennis's daughter, race. Before she goes on a serious scuffle and fight breaks out on the grid just outside the track. They even had to call the sheriff in to mediate. According to Elliott this is guaranteed to happen a few times at races like these. Unfortunately, I missed any video of it.
Finally, after a full day of walking back and forth in the mud and breathing in exhaust we say our goodbyes to Elliott's crew and friends. Driving back home to Virginia Beach. It's rainy and dark. I take the wheel at some point.
The final cut from Nate’s short film...
Home and asleep at 3:30 a.m.
[i] Images by me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 12:18 PM