Texas is called “The Lone Star State” for a reason. Fiercely independent in almost every way, Texas citizens have a unique attitude towards, well, just about everything. In honor of that perspective, New Track Record offers its WO’s (worthless opinions) with a connection to songs that relate to Texas in some way, either by artist, songwriter, title, or lyrics. Feel free to sing along. All songs mentioned here are available on Spotify under a playlist titled “New Track Record’s Texas Motor Speedway Songs.”
1. “Rave On” by Buddy Holly – It was nice to see NBC Sports back in the booth. Just like Lubbock native Buddy sang in this hit, “The little things you say and do / Make me want to be with you.” The announcers and reporters seemed excited to be there. Townsend Bell offered actual insights from the pits, and Kevin Lee kept the ball rolling in the pre-race. Some observers have been critical of Jon Beekhuis and the addition Tommy Kendall in the booth because they don’t have the proper IndyCar driver resume. Really? Jon Beekhuis is absolutely aces in explaining the technical aspects of the new car. His comments on the aero changes to the car for this race were succinct and informative. It’s one thing to tell the audience; it’s another to show us. He does both very well. Tommy Kendall added value to the broadcast. Just because he doesn’t have IndyCar bona fides, doesn’t mean he doesn’t know the sport. He is a racer. That’s good enough for me. He has opinions and insights. And finally, Robin Miller actually found people to interview during his grid run. Here’s my recommendation: add Townsend Bell to the grid run. While Miller is interviewing one driver, Bell can be setting up the next interview. They can play a game of interview leap-frog, so to speak. This would alleviate the possibility of watching Miller croak on us as he huffs and puffs his way to the next driver. Unless that is NBC Sports’ plan. In that case, carry on.
2. “Amarillo by Morning” by Chris Ledoux  - Before all the Texas singer/songwriter fans out there hit me with “It was a George Strait hit” message about this song, let me explain. Strait is on the list for another song, and anybody that complains about using a Chris LeDoux version of a rodeo song can go straight (pun intended) to hell. If that sentiment doesn’t make me an honorary Texan, nothing will. The song is about an itinerant cowboy who is getting his ass kicked on the circuit. He’s lost a wife, a girlfriend, and his saddle to his love of the sport. He just wants to ride. Simona De Silvestro, this song’s for you. You soldier on, knowing that nothing you can do will change the fact that your motor is stamped “Lotus.” At Texas, you didn’t even get your car started. But just like the cowboy in the song, we’ll see you at the next rodeo. Just call it “Milwaukee by Morning.”
3. “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” by Waylon Jennings  - This song deals with the problems of success. Waylon sings about success causing people to feud “like the Hatfields and McCoys.” Sounds like the IndyCar paddock and management after Indy and Detroit, doesn’t it? Another line says “maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of love.” Change the word “love” to “racing” and we have the Firestone 550. After much discussion and gnashing of teeth by all parties, the drivers suggested taking away downforce and making the cars harder to drive. In other words, it was time to go old school and get back to the basics of racing. IndyCar, in an unpredictable moment of clear thinking, agreed. Changes were made. The drivers had to pedal the car in the corners, the tires went away, cars came to the front and fell off, and there was NO PACK RACING. This is what we’ve been clamoring for, yes? Unless you’re Ed Carpenter, that is. He wanted it the way it was since it gave him a better chance to win. Start the new clamoring right now: KEEP TEXAS ON THE SCHEDULE!
4. “I Fought The Law” by The Bobby Fuller Four  - Texas native Bobby Fuller had this hit in 1964, sounding very much like his idol, Buddy Holly. The title says it all. Sorry, Will Power. It seems the new sheriff in town, Beaux Barfield, would not be swayed from calling a 215 MPH chop block on Tony Kanaan just because you were driving for Roger Penske. The sheriff laid down the law. The post race interview while you were watching a replay of the move didn’t give you much wiggle room, either. At least you admitted you ruined the day for both of you. A tip of the ten gallon hat to Sheriff Barfield. The law won.
5. “El Paso” by Marty Robbins - In the song “El Paso” our narrator falls in love with the fickle Felina and kills a rival suitor in a fit of jealousy. After this, he returns to face the music, so to speak. In a roundabout way, this was Tony Kanaan at Texas. After the race, Tony had a decidedly one way conversation with Will Power about aggressive driving. When interviewed, Tony said that kind of driving is unacceptable, particularly for someone like Power who preaches safety. Like the guy in the song, sometimes you have to confront the situation. Way to cowboy up, Tony.
6. “Little Bit Is Better Than Nada“ by Texas Tornados - Once again, the meaning is in the title. IndyCar is not going to get well overnight. The fans of this sport wail about ratings, NASCAR, sponsorship, and racetracks. It’s going to be a long haul, folks. Was the racing better at Texas? Did we have pack racing? Are the cars competitive? Baby steps, people. We have had mostly good racing so far, and Indy and Texas were great. Keep doing what works, and stop doing what doesn’t. And in case you are reading IndyCar, Texas Motor Speedway WORKS.
7. “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” by George Strait - In this song, George says “While you’re busy burning bridges…” I sure hope Randy Bernard and IndyCar aren’t burning bridges in Fort Worth in such a manner that the IZOD IndyCar Series can no longer run at Texas Motor Speedway. Maybe his ego is Texas-sized, but Eddie Gossage has been a valuable partner for IndyCar. Of course, when negotiations involve money, things get said. But since negotiations involve money, they also get done after chests are beaten and pissing contests are completed. George also sings, “Good memories don’t fade so easy.” Don’t let this great race and memory fade. Quit pissing and start talking, guys.
8. “You Can’t Get the Hell Out of Texas” by Gary P. Nunn - This song was a hit for George Jones, but I’m listing the Gary P. Nunn version because he is a true Texas singer/songwriter. It’s a funny song that says “You can’t get the hell out of Texas, / ’cause it’s the hell raising center of the Earth.” IndyCar fans should join their Texan brothers and sisters and raise all kinds of hell if this race falls off the schedule. IndyCar, you cannot “get the hell out of Texas.” You have a promoter that wants you, fans that attend the race, and, if our eyes can be believed, a great product with the new cars and the changed aero rules. Don’t mess this one up.
9. “Texas in my Rearview Mirror” by Mac Davis- Davis, from Lubbock, wrote hits for others and for himself. This song is about a young man who can’t wait to leave Lubbock because the world offers so much more. As he grows older, he realizes that his hometown offers so much more than he previously thought. That’s my worry for IndyCar. The lure of Shell in Houston and the big stage of Circuit of the Americas in Austin may entice Randy Bernard and the bean counters to take the short-sighted view of pocketing the money in front of them instead of taking the long view of what’s best for the future of the series. Don’t drive away from this race.
10. “What I Like about Texas” by Gary P. Nunn – This song lists the people, places, and events that help to define Texas. Here’s my list of what I liked about the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway.
- Racing under the lights rocks, but competing with the NBA and the Stanley Cup is difficult.
- The aero changes to the cars created outstanding competition. The racers said they wanted the drivers to be in control. They were.
- Justin Wilson is a deserving champion. I like the way he commented on the changes. While some drivers continued to complain after the changes they requested were made, Justin complimented IndyCar and said holding firm to the changes was the right thing to do. He said IndyCar was doing its job of protecting the drivers from themselves.
- It was refreshing to hear Graham Rahal accept blame for his accident. After developing somewhat of a reputation as a whiner, he stood up and took it like a man. Very Texas, Graham.
- The same goes for Scott Dixon. It would have been easy to blame the lack of downforce, and therefore IndyCar, for his wreck, but he didn’t. He said it was tough to drive, but that’s what the drivers said they wanted. I tend to pull for the underdog, but find that I like Dixon more and more.
- Townsend Bell and Kevin Lee asked almost every driver what they thought about the racing with the aero changes. Good questions. The drivers’ responses were positive. Well, except for Takuma Sato, who had no idea what he was being asked.
- I loved seeing the emotion from Tony Kanaan when he was getting after Will Power. I still think we need more anger, emotion, and personality from the drivers. It’s not choir practice. Swearing is allowed.
- I like that we have some mechanical issues now. With the old Honda, there was no worry. Now we have worry.
- One of the pre-race shots was of Hinch, Powers, Dario, Servia, and TK talking and gesturing. Let’s see, a Canadian, an Australian, a Scott, a Spaniard, and a Brazilian. Which one do you xenophobes want to get rid of to make the series more appealing? Yeah, thought so.
- We had passes! They were shown on TV! We had split screen viewing!
I had two more songs by The Mavericks I wanted to add. The name and the sound are so Tex-Mex that I just assumed they were from Texas. Wrong. They formed in Miami and recorded in Nashville. Damn. But since I am from Indiana and chose to talk about Texas music, I decided to do an addendum with a non-Texas group that sounds like they are from Texas. One song is “From Hell To Paradise.” After last week’s Detroit debacle, I thought the title was appropriate. The other is “What A Crying Shame.” And that’s what it’s going to be if we don’t keep Texas on the schedule. Adios until next time. I’ve got Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys cued up, and it’s time for a little Texas two-step.
1. Follow these links to both Chris LeDoux’s website or the Wikipedia page about him. If you don’t know his story, you should. You can make the connections to grass-roots racing and loving what you do. RIP, Chris. http://www.chrisledoux.com/fr_home.cfm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_LeDoux
2. Waylon had a tragic connection to Buddy Holly. The story’s here. http://www.buddyhollyandthecrickets.com/related/jennings.html
3. This is one of rock and roll’s forgotten stories. Success and tragedy cross paths again. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Fuller