Motorsports have never been Mike Holmberg’s thing.
“I was never a car guy,” said the Minneapolis accountant. “I didn’t even own one until after college. That people raced them for money just seemed like one of those weird little subcultures that some people get wildly enthusiastic about. Like antiques or Phish.”
With Holmberg’s beloved Minnesota Twins still sidelined due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he’s exploring his options.
“The KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) games on ESPN are fine, but the hours don’t align with my job or teaching the kids,” said the 34-year-old. “Then I saw a story that NASCAR was going to do live racing this weekend. I’ve got nothing but time, so if I’m ever going to get into it…”
The main hurdle is his utter lack of knowledge. For that, he’s called in outside assistance.
“My cousin Tony lives in Sauk Rapids (MN) and has been going to races and demolition derbies his whole life,” said Holmberg. “How can I put this delicately? He’s kind of a dirtbag—mullet, sleeveless t-shirts, not always employable. But he knows racing like the back of his hand.”
What Tony told Holmberg about NASCAR left him confused and curious.
“OK, so apparently they make left turns the entire race. And they don’t have enough gas to run an entire race, so they gotta fill up the tank every so often. I asked Tony why they didn’t make a bigger tank or improve gas mileage so they didn’t have to stop and do this, and he said something about me and Jeff Gordon performing an intimate act on a farm animal. I don’t know who that is.”
Holmberg’s cousin also made it very clear that NASCAR and Indy car racing are not the same thing.
“I told him I’d heard of the Indianapolis 500 before, and you could hear the disgust in his voice when he said it may as well be the Mars 500 for all he cared. I said I’d also heard the name Dale Earnhardt before and he just got real quiet. I think he cried. Which is weird, because at Tony’s mom’s funeral he left during mass to put down a heater and play pull tabs at Jimmy’s Pour House. He’s not really an emotional guy.”
To prep for this weekend, Holmberg has been watching archival footage suggested by Tony.
“I’ve been watching clips on YouTube, and a thing that seems to happen a lot is that the drivers will get in these horrible, full-speed accidents, climb out of their vehicles unscathed, and then start brawling with each other. It’s the damnedest thing. I honestly think if Carlos Gomez hadn’t found baseball, he’d be perfect for this sport.”
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