Writer Lisa Van Wormer shares her first trip to a NASCAR, where she discovers a previously unknown species: the Severna Park Hillbilly.
For my first professional car race experience, I decided to go to Dover International Speedway, also known as the Monster Mile, to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The internet told me what to expect for my NASCAR weekend: mud-tired American made trucks blaring country music, flags of all kinds including checkered, Rebel, and Old Glory, a multitude of mullets varying by hair length, texture, and even color in a lax open-carry and BYOB atmosphere.
I was looking forward to a super friendly and inviting crowd to watch about 40 cars race around a mile-long cement circle 400 times in the blazing sun. My trusty friend Google said the “true experience” involved camping all weekend in a parking lot across the highway from the track. Good old Google had never lead me wrong before, so I rented a pop-up Aliner trailer, stuffed it full with beer and food, hitched it to my black F-150 that was dying to get truly dirty, and was off to be all in for this ride.
Thank you to Google for trying to prepare me for the redneck haven I pulled up to in Dover, Delaware, but I am not sure any amount of well-meaning analytic search engine pulls could have readied me for what RV Lot 10 had in store for the weekend. After getting the spot set-up and Koozie-ing my first beer of the day at around 9:30 am, I looked around the sea of RVs. Based on the beer can debris already, I was a few hours late to the party so I bonged my first beer and got going.
The day involved games of beer pong, tons of card games, corn hole, Frisbee, and basically a drinking component added to every activity. I had to take a walk later on in the day to try to clear my head since it wasn’t even dark out yet and I had been partying for about eight hours straight. That is when I came upon the Severna Park Hillbillies.
While walking along the gravel paths the wound around RV lot 10, I heard them before I saw them. I rounded the corner and stared as I saw a large group of guys, mostly shirtless and dressed in jean cutoffs of varying lengths. It seemed like the shorter, the better. They were screaming, and laughing, and at the moment,were playing some sort of game that involved drinking, a dizzy bat, crushing beer cans on a friend’s head, and then punching another friend that seemed to end in a larger wrestling match. Of the rules I could gather, you could at any point call a time-out for more beer. You began circling the dizzy bat to start the game whether there was an opponent or not, and you could punch anyone in the crowd, not just those actively playing what I can only assume is called dizzybat-drink-your-face-off punch out.
I realized I had been standing there too long when one of the guys in the group started to wave me over. I think he must have won the jean cut-off short shorts challenge and while I was averting my eyes, I noticed he was trying to bait me over with an unopened Natural Light can. I tentatively went over making sure I stayed clear of dizzybat-whatever, which had turned into an all-out wrestling match to rival an old-school Royal Rumble. I think I even heard a Macho Man “Oh Yeah” right before someone got pummeled with a dizzy bat.
I took the beer carefully, and stayed toward the side as my host and I made chit-chat. His name was Donald, but he told me to call him Donny, or maybe D, or probably the Big-D would be better. He told me that all of the guys were from Severna Park and were going to college and had decided to come to a NASCAR race and really hillbilly-up their adventure. I hesitated to tell him I lived only a few miles away from him in Pasadena, but felt pretty safe that he probably wouldn’t even remember me in an hour. I realized that there were no girls at this proclaimed Ho-Down, and began to back away slowly. Big-D tried to convince me to stay, but he was suddenly grabbed by the unhooked strap of his overalls and pulled into the wrestling brawl. “Big D’s a coming” is the last thing I heard as I quickened my pace back to my campsite.