Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday March 31, 2011
This is one of those stories that seemed to come out of left or, maybe more appropriately, the infield.
According to International Speedway Corporation (ISC) spokesman Lenny Santiago, many people have asked over the years about having their ashes spend eternity at Daytona International Speedway. Apparently, enough of these requests have come in during the past half-century that it got ISC and NASCAR thinking about how it could go about selling these crispy fried fans the ultimate season ticket. So much thought went into it, in fact that there was legislation going through the Florida House and Senate to allow the construction of a columbarium on the DIS grounds.
(A columbarium, for those of you like myself who have never heard of it before, is just a fancy name for a building that houses urns – not a place to house Juan Pablo Montoya should he suddenly go crazy as I first imagined.)
“We have a lot of fans that are very, very loyal to NASCAR races and to Daytona in general,” Santiago said this week. “This opens that door, this bill, and we’re hopeful that [it] will get passed.”
That almost happened. But while the legislation did pass through two House committees, unfortunately for NASCAR the bill, much like those it was meant to appease, went up in flames on Tuesday as a Senate committee voted it down, 5–7.
“I just felt very strongly that to have people’s remains, cremated remains, at the same place where there’s NASCAR racing and a motorsports entertainment complex was not appropriate,” said state Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs, D-Delray Beach, the committee’s Vice Chairwoman. “A lot of that has to do with the fact that I love NASCAR, I love Daytona, and I didn’t want it to turn into a partial cemetery.”
Apparently Sen. Sachs is not a flaming, die-hard fan. But enough with these boring facts! Let’s get on to the commentary part everyone loves so much.
Now usually, in my mind, people who have their bodies cremated want to have their ashes spread over something or perhaps sit atop a relative’s mantle so they can keep an eye on everybody. It just doesn’t make sense to me to go through the bother of burning your body and then having to rent a space in a building, or in this case build one, to house the can that your relatives have selected for you. But hey, to each his own, right? It just seems to me that for those who are truly die-hard fans, who really want their ashes at the speedway, there have to be some pretty creative ways to accomplish it without them having to give the France family a dime.
Like for example, most tracks have a charity walk sometime during the race weekend… the perfect time to lag behind a little and trail your loved one’s ashes as you walk around the speedway. No one is really going to notice, and hey, the fee you pay could even go to a good cause. Not only that, but once they start preparing the racing surface for action your loved one will truly be scattered to all parts of the track!
Or maybe… if you know the right people… pay ‘em to put your loved one in the bottom of the confetti guns that they shoot off in Victory Lane. With any luck, if your loved one’s favorite driver happens to win, he’ll be covered in wet confetti that is mysteriously a little gritty!
Got a little more money? Try convincing one of the driving school or ridealong outfits to let you spread your ashes at 150 mph! On second thought, that might not be a good idea; I’ve been a smoker for many, many years and trust me, if you ever try dumping an ashtray out the window at even 60 mph you’ll be wearing it! Maybe you can get them to slow down a little when they do it…
And finally, maybe we’re making the whole thing a little too complicated. Couldn’t you simply walk around the ground of the speedway with friends (and still living loved ones) while depositing a little ash here and a little ash there? No one would be the wiser.
Here’s the point: you can have your ashes at just about any speedway you want and you won’t have to pay ISC or Brian France one penny. All you need is for your still living relatives to have a creative mind and a few cahones.
And if that’s not the case… contact me, as I’d be happy to give your loved one a respectful and appropriate sendoff. Hey, anyone who wants to spend eternity at the racetrack can’t be too uppity, right!?
Those are a few of my ideas but let’s hear from you. How would you spread your loved one’s ashes at their favorite track?
Stay off the wall (unless you get blown up there!)
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