April 16, 2009
By Doug Demmons
Decades ago, when I was just a wet-behind-the-ears journalism grad student on the North Shore of Chicago I made the required pilgrimage to the Southside to old Comiskey Park to watch a White Sox game.
It was the same summer as the infamous Disco Demolition Night in which a drunken mob of fans stormed the field while disco records were being blown up by a radio DJ. Ah yes, the good ole days.
Unfortunately there were no riot police present when I attended. I don’t even remember who won the game or who the White Sox were playing that night -- possibly because our you-get-what-you-pay-for outfield seats were directly behind a steel column.
What I do remember quite vividly was the food.
It was out of this world, a feast as ethnically diverse as Chicago itself.
I can’t name anyone who played for the White Sox that night, but I distinctly remember sausages so juicy the spray from biting into one nearly put my eye out.
That’s how it goes with some sporting events -- the action on the field or the track is sort of beside the point. It’s the atmospherics that count.
There are probably race fans who have no idea who won the weekend they went to at Martinsville. But they could tell you how many Jesse Jones hot dogs they ate and whether they came with or without cole slaw and chili.
Basically, that’s how God meant it to be -- food first, everything else second.
In the world of NASCAR cuisine -- from Jesse Jones to Mario Batali -- there is probably not anything celebrated more than those Martinsville hot dogs.
So, naturally, Talladega Superspeedway has now decided to step up and launch its own aptly named "Big One."
The Big One is a new one-third pound dog served with a "special speedway sauce."
"During the off-season, we worked closely with our concessionaire, Americrown, to create a menu specifically designed for Talladega Superspeedway," said Talladega Superspeedway President Rick Humphrey. "When race fans arrive for the Aaron's Dream Weekend, they will find new offerings of both brand-name cuisine and one-of-a-kind creations. It's all a part of making sure that the service and atmosphere of Talladega Superspeedway matches the quality of our on-track experience."
As everyone knows, the meat in a hot dog is almost beside the point -- especially since you probably don't want to know how it was made or what it’s made of.
And the bun is little more than a delivery system.
Great hot dogs are made by all the glop that goes on them. At Martinsville that includes cole slaw and chili.
So if the "Big One" Dega Dog is to compete with the gastronomical delights of cole slaw mixed with chili on a bright red tube of miscellaneous meat (sounds divine, doesn't it?) that speedway sauce better be primo stuff.
Especially since fans camped out for the week at Talladega -- known to consume almost as much grilled meat as alcohol -- are experts in this field. Wimpy hot dogs would be as welcome as warm beer.
So we’ll just have to wait to see whether the Big One is a 15-car melee with cars sliding through the tri-oval on their roofs and on fire or merely a few cars spinning through the infield grass.
But regardless how the Big One tastes -- and regardless the beverage it is washed down with -- a dog that hefty deserves its own folklore.
How about bringing in the champions of MaJor League Eating? How about bringing Joey Chestnut down for the weekend to face off against Takeru Kobayashi to see if it's possible to consume as many Big Ones in one sitting as the track consumes cars?
And years from now you’ll tell your grandkids how you saw Joey whip Takeru without even having to dunk the buns in a cup of Miller Lite -- but you have no earthly idea who won the race.
Doug Demmons is a writer and editor for the Birmingham News ~ he writes daily and weekly auto racing columns ranging from NASCAR to open wheel to Formula One, local tracks and more... you can read Doug's columns online at Blog of Tommorow
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.