Saturday, October 21, 2006

How the suits took Martinsville's hot dog for a walk

At the risk of releasing the "fat joke" hounds, I come today in praise of the Martinsville hot dog.
I am not going to pretend these culinary delights have any nutritional value. They are most certainly not good for you, but they are good. And sometimes, that ought to be enough.
Here’s the Martinsville hot dog deal. Bun, bright-red Jesse Jones wiener (has to be Jesse Jones, with extra red dye coloring), with chili, mustard, onions and slaw. The dogs can be ordered with no slaw or with no onions or pretty much anyway you want one, but the get the full experience you at least have to do the chili and mustard.
They’re $2 apiece and they come wrapped in wax paper.
A couple of years ago, soon after International Speedway Corp. bought the track from the family of the late Clay Earles, who had founded it, we got here one Friday and something had changed.
The hot dogs were being served in little foam boxes. You got them pretty much plain and had to go apply your own condiments. And they weren’t quite red enough.
It was, quite frankly, an outrage.
Eddie Wood, co-owner of the Wood Brothers team from nearby Stuart, Va., was fighting mad about it. He found NASCAR president Mike Helton and demanded things be put back the way they were. Immediately.
Before long, word of the crisis got back to hot dog connoisseur Bill France Jr. and phone calls were immediately made. This was serious business.
The problem, of course, was symptomatic of what’s happening in our society. Instead of letting the people who’d made the hot dogs here for years keep right on making them, the people from ISC’s concession company, Americrown, came in here and thought they needed to make things "better."
Morons.
By the end of that fateful day, the wax paper was back. Personally, I don’t think the hot dogs have ever quite made it back to the quality they were before the Americrown goons got hold of them. But maybe that’s just my imagination.
Regardless, people still eat them when they come here. In bunches.
I vividly recall walking into the track one cool, foggy morning several years ago at about 8 a.m. and nodding at Richard Petty as he walked by taking a chomp out of a Martinsville dog.
As I was standing behind Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s hauler telling tales Friday afternoon, a veteran of the garage area told the story of a guy showing up one day and having Dale Earnhardt Sr. motion him into the transporter.
"Here’s $20," Earnhardt said. "Go get as many hot dogs as this will buy and bring them to the side door of the trailer. And whatever you do, don’t tell Teresa."
Back before the Americrownistas took over, lunch on Friday for the media consisted of someone bringing in several boxes full of hot dogs. This was done as rapidly as possible, with no prior warning, so as the persons making said deliveries might have hope of getting out of the way safely before the locusts swept in.
Make all the jokes you want about sportswriters and buffets, but watching those hot dogs disappear was better than a Las Vegas magic act. Photographers, who frequently wear vests with all sorts of extra pockets, somehow managed to be particularly adept at cleaning out those boxes.
I hear from race fans all of the time telling me how NASCAR is being ruined because too many things are changing too fast. I don’t always agree with that, but I will tell you that there are some things that ought not be messed with – like Labor Day weekend racing and the true Martinsville hot dog.

12 comments:

Redvette said...

David,
Like the Clocks, and the train on the backstretch, the "Pink Hotdog," done "your way" is another feature that makes Martinsville a bastion of NASCAR tradition. And, looking like a man who enjoys a few dogs, I bet you'll go through your share. Enjoy the dogs and the racing.

Fan # 5 said...

David, Isn't it funny HOW nascar's brain trust "think" they know what's good for sport! I hope that Martinsville, it's pink hotdoogs, and it's Grandfather clock stick around for another 58 years, Unfortunately I hear a clock ticking...and it ain't a trophy!

Gvav1 said...

Your blog today is a noble social commentary, thank you!

Enjoy the racing and the 'dogs this weekend...

StewartFan said...

Excellent post honoring one of NASCAR's greats. I'm sure the King and the Intimdator agree.

Redvette said...

BTW, the only dog in NASCAR that should "Take a walk" is the Lucky Dog.

okla21fan said...

yes David,
'change' is bad.....Lets go back to 'racin' at the Beach!!!

Someday in the future probably about 40 or so years from today, Nascar fans will complain about closing down 'traditional' tracks like TMS, LVMS and CALY in favor of newer more start of the art tracks.

Ebbet's Field was great in it's day as well, but the Dodgers had little choice but the leave.

I loved the Mville dog when I went there a few years ago as well, but the bottom line is not the 'change', but common sense. Sometimes no matter how hard one tries, one can't make the wheel any rounder.

Anonymous said...

yea Martinsville hot dogs are great.
red Jessie Jones hot dogs (ie, not and invention of the north as some on speed channel seem to think; and skinless, too) just red.

chili; just chili powder, water, paprika, lean ground chuck,

slaw; dukes mayo, vinegar, sugar pinch celery salt
fresh sunbeam buns lightly steamed

everybody(lots) in Martinsville were "raised on them"
in 70's most any little store had them usally three for a dollar; so that was one meal a day for 1$

speedway use to let school cafeteria workers "man" the concession stands to raise funds for local groups no more; big brother and big buiness have taken over

local paper always has notification of large security force in place
local sheriffs dept bought $400,000 bus to" fit in with crowd" while monitoring them, and watching the race of course
fyi": martinsville speedway is in henry county just outside of martinsville va city limits
way far from ridgeway va.

Anonymous said...

TABOO!!!
the reason Martinsville is in decline is "bootleg liquor"
Martinsville, is where many fans, "picked up" their, year supply, of, fine, Virginia, blue ridge "moonshine"
we had this "Plant" in town (e.i. dupont) that produced some great chemists and metal workers; that just had a "way" with stainless steel, copper, corn, apples, sugar,mt spring water and charcoal!
the track,and nascar both were develpoed, cause of liquor.
then "big Brother"; "feds"; ATF;
sent 100 agents (late 90's; but still here, "trying to blend in")to end production of Patrick, Henry, and Franklin counties "moonshine"
they won! closed most stills, local hardware store, (for selling supplies)and most factories in the area who depended on shipping to make ends meet.. went to china.
making liquor was a tradition and making the "best was the priority"
spring water, charcoal filtering and, stainless steal pots, with copper tops, for flavor
long live capitalism and liberty long as the government gets the biggest share
LETS HEAR IT FOR THE "YANKEE" SPIES WHO TOOK DOWN A REGION AND A TRADITION;
as they will with the hot dogs (why would red dye cause such a stir) and the "martinsville 'good ol boy'
who just wanted to have a good time and throw a great "party"!!
Don't tell the youngsters or the "boss"

Anonymous said...

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