A grandfather and his granddaughter were fighting over the headphones. She couldn't have been more than five years old, but she was stubborn, and insisted she " ... would cover her ears with her hands the whole time." In an effort to prove the headphones were cool, the elder removed his Gun Barrel City snap-back and placed them over his ears. A neighbor tried to help, asking the little girl, " Where could I get some of those headphones?"
She conceded, rolled her eyes and settled into the bleachers with her headphones on, just as the cars finished their first pacing lap and the flagman signaled the first race at the Devil's Bowl Speedway.
To get to the Devil's Bowl, you must go East on 80 just a bit. In reality, it's only about a 25-minute drive from the city, but it couldn't feel further away from the glitz and grit of Dallas. Something happens when you wind down Lawson Road toward the Bowl's bright lights - the pace of country living eases your anxieties and slows you down. Which isn't to say a night at the local motor sports track will be relaxing, but it will be loud, there will be crashes, and there will be $3 beers. If you bring the right group of friends, perhaps there will be some under-the-table $1 betting.
From the outside, it appears to be your average high school football stadium. Once you've crossed over, you'll see the field is replaced with a race pit. Crews are here from every end of the spectrum, some from mom and pop car shops between here and Oklahoma, others decked out with trailers and professional set-ups. Making an oval around the pit is a dirt track fit for four different classes of race cars, and is occasionally tread on by a tractor.
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In the stands, families congregate according to car shops and drivers, and which family you sit next to will largely dictate who you cheer for. It is very difficult to root against small children who just want their father to win the race. You may not fit in, but it won't be long before they take you into their tribe and try to mark you with one of their team shirts.
There are other reasons the Devil's Bowl is one of my favorite places in Texas: They serve fair food, the beers are cheap and cold and the Texas sky looks its biggest and most beautiful sitting over that country track. There is a raffle and a lady with a propeller beanie very persuasively selling tickets. The announcers are all ESPN-level undiscovered talent, but still down-home enough to make jokes with folks in the stands.
And did you know racers get in fights? They do. And every year on the Fourth of July, the fireworks show seems a little close for comfort. If you don't have a reason to celebrate your independence yet, well, now you do.