Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Favorite Racing Inspired Songs

I come from a family of drag racers. My granddad, dad, and younger brother are all addicted to the smell of burning tires and race fuel. Family road trips are usually planned only for the occasion of heading to a weekend race.

I even tried racing for a while, but never caught the "fever." Instead of racing, I developed an obsession with music. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy heading to the track. Especially when my little brother is racing. It's just more about spending time with my family than the actual racing for me.

In honor of my family's favorite past time, here are my top 5 Favorite Racing Inspired Songs.

5. "Slow Ride" - Foghat: This song really has nothing to do with racing. It is included in this list for 2 reasons. First, it was featured in the movie Dazed and Confused, which contained my two favorite muscle cars (a Pontiac GTO Judge and a Chevy Chevelle). Second, my dad has always loved the song and said he wanted to name a drag car after it someday. He'd paint "Slow Ride" on the side and "Take It Easy" on the back.

4. "Going the Distance" - Cake: Cake's finest moment is the perfect balance between quirkiness and pop sensibility that makes their best songs so infectious. My best interpretation of the song is that the main character can only get his ex out of his head while racing, so long after "Somebody left with the cup," he's still circling the track and "thinking of someone for whom he still burns."

3. "Stroker Ace" - Charlie Daniels Band: Featured in the Burt Reynolds movie of the same name, "Stroker Ace" hearkens back to the days when the best drivers were former (and sometimes present) moonshiners. What better motivation to learn to take a curve than to avoid meeting the local county sheriff? This song was perfect for Daniels with its spoken verses and rolling banjo.

2. "Racing in the Streets" - Bruce Springsteen: My favorite Springsteen song perfectly captures the imagery of the '70s street racing scene and the people who lived it. To give up street racing is to give up living for the song's character, and the girl who fell in love with him after seeing him race three years ago is now left crying herself to sleep at night while he is still out racing. Like many of Bruce's songs, I could write an entire post dissecting the lyrics and find a deeper meaning in each line.

1. "Daddy's Cup" - Drive-By Truckers: I don't know much about Mike Cooley's youth (Patterson Hood is the talker of the group), but he was probably exposed to his fair share of racing if "Daddy's Cup" is any indication. The main character of the song is remembering his deceased father who lost part of his eyesight in a wreck and lived out his racing dreams through his son. The father could still build race cars and the son (and the song's narrator) remembers his father's efforts to teach him by pouring a bucket full of engine parts out on the garage floor and making him tell him the name and purpose of each one. The song traces the son's journey from his birth to the present; recalling his first race and vowing never to quit until he is dead or wins the championship and gets his father's name engraved on the cup.

Many of the father/son interactions in this song remind me heavily of time spent with my dad. He is always eager to pass his knowledge down to me, and I'm usually eager to learn. Although my dad drag races, he used to help the dirt track racers build their engines, and the details of this song perfectly capture the essence of southern dirt-track racing. Get a junk car, knock out the glass, weld the doors shut, build a fast engine, and go racing.

What are your favorite racing inspired songs? How about songs that just make you want to drive fast?

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