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Fan’s View: When the Lights Went Out on NASCAR

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It’s unnerving, I tell you. I am living in a world devoid of noise, action, and annoying TV commentators. My somewhat dated, but still functional, 36” Sony Wega is sitting in my living room – but its screen is black, and the speakers silent. Oh, the little green light comes on when I push the power button on the remote. That is not the problem: the problem is the connection to the wider world. And in short, my DirecTV dish is no longer providing signal.

What am I supposed to do? Crisis does not begin to describe the feelings of panic and desperation that are fluttering through my stomach. I haven’t seen a stock car spinning on a track in days! My hands are shaking. I have this interminable headache. I’ve even gone to such lengths as searching for tidbits on the NASCAR scene in the Boston newspapers – which, since the Beantown press thinks stock car racing is the ugly child of the sports world, means reading about Tony Stewart in the Northeast is near impossible. Furthermore, in this region we don’t even receive PRN or MRN stations, so I can’t simply listen to the latest on-track action. Things are so bad, I’ve thought about unboxing some of the 1/64th-scale diecasts and putting on my own mini 500. I am going nuts.

Like many of you, I am not fortunate enough to be able to attend each race. My weekly dose of high-octane excitement comes to me through the wonders of satellite TV. And this has worked for over the last decade. Yeah… a whole 10 years. Did you know your neighbors’ trees can grow an awful lot in 10 years? Well, it appears that those lovely maples have managed to block my signal… MY signal. That’s right; it’s the one that brings Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. straight to my La-Z-Boy. This is not fair and extremely stressful.

We thought to fix the problem last Thursday, on our day off. The dish was repositioned with what we thought was a clear shot at the southern sky (yes, just like the ad). Since we often take our dish with us on visits to the track, aiming it should not have taken more than a few minutes. We’re good at this. But needless to say, after many hours of switching out parts, receivers, running new cable, aiming the damn thing in 68 different directions and swearing at the one I love the most – there was still no pretty picture on the tube.

I sat in my living room that night staring at the blank screen, and only one thought raced through my mind: I am going to miss the race.

It kept repeating over and over. The long weekend ahead of me loomed, without any hope or glimmer of cheer. My live-in fix-it man snarled at his computer while he downloaded manuals, checked the angles, shook the compass, moved the dish again and stared out the window. I dared to mention calling a service technician. He glared. I should have known better.

I suppose there are some benefits to not watching the races… wait, I’m sure I can think of one. How about… nope. Uh… well… my headache is coming back. I want my NASCAR! I have been assured that with the removal of certain branches on a certain tree, my signal will return. But I can’t help but look out the window at the pile of coaxial cable and assorted hand tools and wonder, is it true? Will my DirecTV return? Will it be fixed in time? Will they ever invent a signal that can go through maple trees? Or am I doomed to fall victim to the local cable company, without my HotPass?

I can hear the violins playing for me. I know I’m being slightly pathetic. I just can’t seem to think my way out of this! Maybe if I blow up some of our photos from Darlington and New Hampshire, then tape them to the television set, I’d feel better. I doubt it… but all I know is if I don’t do something, I’m likely to starting running laps through the supermarket parking lot in my Impala.

SPEED TV! I miss you!

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