MILWAUKEE - You get your hands in it, plant your roots in it, dusty headlight dance with your boots in it. This weekend, the word on the NASCAR circuit is "dirt."
The Cup Series has not raced on dirt since 1970, but many of its drivers have. For the legions of fans who enjoy that style of racing on a Saturday night, NASCAR has loaded more than 23,000 cubic yards of red clay dirt onto the surface at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.
That amount of dirt is the equivalent of seven Olympic-sized swimming pools and weighs roughly 30,000 tons. The novelty alone has already captured lots of attention.
In terms of specifics, dirt track steering is much different than on an oval or even a road course. A driver has to find the sweet spot of letting the rear of the car ride over the dirt, kind of like steering into a skid on snow during Wisconsin winters.
Then there's the banking, which is normally up to 30 degrees at Bristol -- a signature that makes it a great spectator track to begin with. The angle has been dropped about 19 degrees, partly to keep the racing surface from sliding down toward the infield.
As for getting dirty with NASCAR, you know you came from it and, someday, you'll return to it.