It?s been a quiet week in Lake Maxicokonn, Pennsylvania, my old home town out on the edge of the swamp. It?s a wonderful time of year; fall has arrived. The leaves have started changing color and soon the trees will resemble death. Quarter-midget racing is about to wrap up its season at Maxicokonn Speedway. You can still stand outside on a Saturday night and hear the cars racing from a mile away. No one ever complains about the noise, probably because the track is owned by the Maxicokonn Gun Club.
It?s an underappreciated noise. It?s the sound of children who are not only learning to drive, but learning to love driving. A recent article claims that in 2010, people age 21-30 drive only one-third of the distance the same age bracket drove in 1995. One of the reasons given is that driving is seen as less productive than public transportation. For example, multitasking while driving is known to be dangerous, where as public transportation coupled with smart phones (and/or Wi-Fi) allows travelers to work on their way to work. Given our generation?s propensity for collectivist utilitarianism, it is amazing we were born during the Reagan Administration as we would have thrived in the Soviet Union.
Efficiency is a great and wonderful thing, but there needs to be an advocate for the joy of driving. Someone has to remind people that it is okay to corner faster than the suggested speed posted; that there is reason why you can go from 0-60 in under 7 seconds. When people need to ask why a car can be sold if it is physically capable of exceeding the highest speed limits, there is a problem.
It?s no secret that young drivers are killing machines. Quarter-midget racing gives kids a controlled environment where they learn how dangerous their hormone fueled antics are. Maybe they?ll learn to find an appropriate time and place for driving like a maniac.
Let?s try to enjoy that noise while we can. It?s the sound of not just racing?s future, but driving?s future. And that?s not a hokey ?children are the future? (whatever that?s supposed to mean) statement; that?s justification for the car culture of the generations that have come before.
That?s the news from Lake Maxicokonn, where the women are feeble, the men are homely, and the children are all below average. Please don?t sue me, Garrison Keillor.