Great Lakes Dragaway, early morning.

So, the plan was to show up at Great Lakes Dragaway on Sunday, to shoot my friends racing their cars at the Memorial Day drag races, which is a three-day event. The weather was rainy and ugly, but a promise is a promise, and I showed up not-bright-and-early... like, before anyone had even gotten up kind of early.

I killed time by getting a coffee at the local McDonald's, where an older gentleman stared hard at me, the scary stranger from out of town scarily drinking coffee and reading the scary newspaper. Really, old dude? What century is this? People drive to places and buy coffee. Get over it.

Back to the raceway, and it was still frikkin' early. Only a couple of security people moseying around, and the sanitation truck guy, coming to vacuum out the bathroom tanks. Apparently, the drag racing crowd like to sleep in. I would later find out that the crowd on Saturday had been huge and lively. This went a little ways to explain the early morning sluggishness of the whole place. There had been some whooping-up, it seemed.

In the end, I found out that the car I had come to shoot had broken a transmission the previous day, and the team had been forced to go home a day early. So, with my friends having been forced to cancel their day's activities, and me with a couple of other things I could suddenly take care of back in Chicago, I chose to skedaddle. But, before I cleared out, I did take some pictures of the nearly-deserted rain-soaked grounds. Also, I bought some really cool t-shirts, once the store opened. The Great Lakes Dragaway was built in 1955, and looks the part. There are signs of new construction, but there are some really cool leftovers from the heyday of The Sixties. Photos follow:

The apostrophe is one of the least-understood grammatical tools, and for sign painters, they are an
enduring mystery. Some sign painters always include them, whenever they have to paint an S, just to be safe. This sign painter don't need no stinking apostrophes. The theoretical proprietor of the establishment supposedly carries a driver's license that says on it "Johnny Midnights".
The coolest evidence of days-gone-by-ness are fiberglass
mascots. There just aren't enough businesspeople dedicated
enough to commission the construction of fiberglass statues
any more, if you ask me. This hot dog man carries on the
great American tradition of food characters excited to be
eaten by happy customers. Think Charlie the Tuna. When I
sent this picture to a friend of mine via SMS, he responded:
"Prepping himself for consumption. I hope I face death with
the same degree of courage." Don't we all, chum.

I wonder how many customers have to explain to their children why the lady is wearing roller skates. Kids probably have no point of reference for a waitress on wheels.
Long ago, there must have been some association between the Great Lakes Dragaway and Volkswagen. VW's aren't exactly known for their domination at the drag strip. Maybe the original owner, "Broadway Bob", as he called himself, was a VW fan?

A wheelie is a wheelie, little pickup.
One of the first things you see when you enter the gate is this derelict concessions truck. It's eerie enough on its own, but the bullet holes in the window are the icing on the cake. Guess somebody doesn't like diet soda.

Possible project for a lazy afternoon some time in the future: Make a full alphabet
of these oxidized letters, to spell out whatever I want with them.

Of course, the weather started to clear up as I went back to the car to go home. By then, people were starting to come to life and walk around, wondering about breakfast. Maybe they could have some rusty popcorn?


Jim D. said...

Like! Some of these look like they're lifted out of a Simon Stalenhag painting. You do know about Simon Stalenhag, right?

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

I had forgotten his name, but when I did a search, I went "Oh yeah! That guy!". I'm super jealous of his stuff. Another search on Asthmazon and turns out he's got a few books available! Added to cart!

Thanks, Jim!


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