By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
The first races at the track north of Fort Worth were saturation-covered by every news agency in town, but News reporters must have breathed too much carbon monoxide and beer fumes last weekend when they described the speedway in Sunday's front-page story as "a jewel beneath the relentlessly blue sky."
And you thought those were beer-swilling yahoos in the stands. Think back. Weren't they really true aficionados sharing a moment of perfect bliss and human understanding? To quote from a News interview with the supporters of competing drivers: "That fans of two such bitter rivals could sit peaceably side by side says much about the mood at the speedway, where dispositions seemed as sunny as the weather." Hey, those weren't greasy "No Fat Chicks" caps you saw in the crowd; those were olive laurels.
And the frustrations of sitting in hellish traffic that only led to Okefenokee-like parking lots "were put aside as car engines revved up," according to the News. (One small Buzz criticism: The article could have used more exclamation points, and the I's should have been dotted with happy faces.)
Of course, deeper into the mammoth coverage of the speedway inaugural (this is just a stock car track, right?), we read that "some" fans fumed over parking problems, and saw pictures of forced marches to shuttle buses. But, we soon learned that that was just to get folks in the mood to see a dancing cop from Rhode Island directing traffic or--does it get any folksier?--Bruton "Screw you, Dallas" Smith, the guy who brought this NASCAR jewel to the Fort Worth side of north Texas, helping unsnarl traffic.
Almost lost amid the hoopla for the stock car track, Buzz noted an alarming development along Grand Prairie's celebrated I-30 Cheeze Strip. If you remember, between the exit for the Lone Star off-track fleece-o-rama and the Palace of Wax lay a mysteriously silent amusement park complete with a funky pirate ship. As any local five-year-old can tell you, the park was closed down by evil personal injury lawyers after a patron was tragically injured on the roller coaster.
We all, of course, were waiting patiently for another tourist trap to replace it in what has been hyped as America's vortex of simulated fun. We fought back mixed emotions when we saw the park was razed last week. And our hopes for better fun were dashed when we learned it will be replaced by a Ford dealership. A car lot? Surely there was something more fitting for the strip: A bungee-jumping wonderland? A Fairy Tale park for the tykes? Isn't there an entrepreneur out there with a roadside reptile exhibition?
A Buzz warning: Locating a car dealership over a haunted amusement park may be akin to building your dream house on an ancient Indian graveyard. But then again, test drives may be interesting.