By on August 1, 2010

This week’s road trip is a special journey through a much-loved American tradition: NASCAR. We’re going to be driving through the South, some lush, beautiful country full of hospitality, great barbecue, and rabid loyalty to the local citizenry’s sponsored stock car of choice. This is a much longer trip than last week’s – we’re going to hit eight states – so plan accordingly, i.e. a case of beer per person per day. Only to be drunk after the day’s drive is complete, of course.

If you’ve never spent much time in the South, allow me to give you some tips. Everyone smokes all the time everyplace. Don’t bother getting self-righteous about it, because they don’t care about your pinko-commie public health concerns. “Bless your heart” really means “You stupid a$$hole.” Don’t ask what a chitlin is, just eat it. The cops don’t appreciate being called Boss Hogg and don’t care that your brother is some fancypants Yankee lawyer. The national anthem is not “The Star-Spangled Banner”, it’s “Dixie.” Children own shotguns here, and they are better shots than you. And NASCAR is not a sport, it is a religion.

Start out in Virginia. Since they claim to be “for lovers” you might get lucky, especially if you offer up some tickets to a race at Martinsville Speedway. For that, though, you’ll have to wait until October. In the meantime drop in on nearby Lake Sugar Tree Motorsport Park and watch the locals battle it out in motocross. It’s a beautiful track and worth the trip for the scenery alone. For truly stunning views of Virginia spend as much as you can on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Watch out for the bears.

Virginia is merely a warm-up for your journey into the heart of NASCAR country: North Carolina. There are NASCAR-themed activities galore to be had, including official tours. Almost every driver’s shop is within a 50-mile radius of Charlotte Motor Speedway. Let someone like Trisha Fuller from Race Shop Tours give you an inside look at your favorite teams. You’ll have to wait until October again for a NASCAR race, but the speedway has a nicely stocked schedule of other events in August, including the Summer Shootout and the Food Lion Auto Fair.

No road trip is complete without a little healthy competition, and here’s yours. First, roshambo with your road trip partners to see who will be put in the line of fire. Loser must start a debate in a local bar, stance being that NASCAR is a setup of near WWE proportions and that the only reason Dale Jr. won the Coca-Cola 400 in 2001 is because NASCAR officials must have given him a restrictor plate with bigger holes. If you make it out without being punched in the face, your road trip partners have to pick up the gas tab for the next three days. You’ll probably be run out of town either way.

After that little Top Gear-style stunt you’re going to want to put as much distance between yourself and North Carolina as possible. Stopping in South Carolina might be risky – your reputation would have spread by now – but if you must, throw on some dark glasses and fake mustaches and swing by Darlington Raceway. They’ve got the Too Tough to Tame 200 in August and the Historic Racing Festival in late September. Get off the auto track for a bit and head out on a BMW motorcycle tour. Originating in Greer, SC, the tours run three days and they supply the bike.

Sultry Georgia beckons, and despite having nothing to do with racing at all, you’re not allowed to leave the state without spending time in Savannah. It’s about 3-1/2 hours from Atlanta Motor Speedway and exemplifies the best of what the South has to offer: historic architecture, gracious hospitality and lots of ghosts. Head to the Crab Shack for fish “so fresh you want to slap it” and Clary’s Café for breakfast. Since you’re out there already, swing by Tybee Island. Atlanta Motor Speedway has a full event schedule including Friday Night Drags, multiple racing schools and the Great Clips 300 in early September. Stuff your face with meat at Fox Brothers BBQ, and swing by Harold’s for classic Brunswick Stew.

Next week: Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. Yee haw!

If you’re serious about taking a NASCAR roadtrip, pick up a copy of the Rand McNally Ultimate NASCAR Roadtrip Guide. It has a ridiculous amount of information on every NASCAR track in the country so you can follow the series around like the Grateful Dead.

The Booth Babe is an anonymous auto show model who dishes about what really goes on behind the scenes. Read her blog at http://doyoucomewiththecar.blogspot.com. And if you treat her nicely, read her each Sunday at Thetruthaboutcars.com

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32 Comments on “The Booth Babe Chronicles: Road Trip Warrior – The South, Pt. 1...”


  • avatar
    Sam P

    “The national anthem is not “The Star-Spangled Banner”, it’s “Dixie.”

    The South lost the Civil War. Get over it.

  • avatar
    buzzliteyear

    Wow! Negative Stereotypes much?

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      Yeah really! As someone who grew up in Atlanta (Decatur, GA) and different parts of the south east, I was always amazed at how many non-southerners traveled to GA or the Carolinas on vacation or to visit family, started out by ridiculing the “south”, and then fell in love with the people and surrounding areas. They loved the weather, and ended up moving there after “discovering” the south.

      If I were to write about any stereotypes or generalizations on this forum about, oh I don’t know, Native Americans (I now live in New Mexico), or Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, gays, or anything else considered offensive by the PC police, I’d be cut off by the moderator. But apparently, the “south” or “south east” is fair game. Double standards apply.

      As a former airline captain, I have traveled all around the country, Mexico, and Canada (and overseas with the USMC). I can certainly generalize and stereotype about every region of the country, especially California and the north east.

    • 0 avatar
      0menu0

      Exactly, the only people who rip on the South are people who have never been there. As a born and raised Chicago guy I can say I like the South(having spent several years in Virginia/North Carolina)over the Great Lakes area(I loved not owning Winter clothes).

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    Of all the crazy stunts Top Gear have pulled, this is the best!

  • avatar
    sideshowtom98

    I subscribe and visit this site daily, because I love cars, car culture, the curbside classics, and keeping up with all things auto.

    I like a fun diversion as much as anyone, but I fail to see how the “contributions” from the Booth Babe have any place in anything but possibly a high school newsletter.

    Her attempt at humor, at the expense of southerners, falls flat, and comes across as highly bigoted, and ignorant. Not funny, or entertaining, at all. Is there not an editor for this site?

    It fits in with her past “contributions” in its triteness, and total lack of any sort of depth, and failure to make any statement of any value at all. I know that this is the age of the blogger, and any mindless idiot can develop a following of the same, and have their 15 minutes of fame. Why does it have to occur on a website that otherwise is so informative, and entertaining?

  • avatar
    AaronH

    I though Virginians were considered Southern Yankees……
    Been to Savannah…Great place.
    ThemThere Top Gear fellas gots themselves a deathwish.
    Lincoln didn’t free the slaves…He enslaved you all…Even Malcolm X figured that out.

  • avatar
    George B

    Strange. When I drive through the South I mostly just see friendly Americans and tall pine trees. Americans not that different from the ones I knew growing up in rural Kansas. The local people were always polite, but then again I didn’t come into town with a full camera crew.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Sultry Georgia beckons, and despite having nothing to do with racing at all, you’re not allowed to leave the state without spending time in Savannah.

    General Sherman agrees.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    “It fits in with her past “contributions” in its triteness, and total lack of any sort of depth, and failure to make any statement of any value at all. I know that this is the age of the blogger, and any mindless idiot can develop a following of the same, and have their 15 minutes of fame. Why does it have to occur on a website that otherwise is so informative, and entertaining?”

    I have been saying this since the first post. IN MY OPINION it started out at the high school level. I scan from time to time to see how far it will regress. I just don’t get it. She must have some serious dirt on someone. IN MY OPINION, this site deserves better.

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      BS apparently has given BB carte blanche to write whatever she wants, regardless of how immature it comes across or how many people she pisses off. Either BS is infatuated with her, or she increases badly needed hits on TTAC after RF left and PN temporarily left to build his son’s house in Eugene. Probably a little of both. I agree that BB brings very little positive to the table.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      Some people like to read the Booth Babe Chronicles. Others do not. If you don’t like to read them, you don’t have to.

      (Put me in the second group. I read the first Booth Babe offering, and have not read any since.)

      Even if you do not like her material, Booth Babe is a good writer. What’s wrong with having a variety of articles for people to choose from? It’s not like space is limited on here or anything.

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      BS is infatuated with her

      Bingo! I thought the exact same thing.

  • avatar
    M 1

    This sort of thing is why I don’t bother to recommend this site to my car biz colleagues.

  • avatar
    daviel

    OK – Kentucky was a border state and union affiliate. Looks like TopGear hired the locals to come in and “make trouble”. They cut out all the “bless your hearts” references to Top Gear. The south lost the war but won the reconstruction, IMO. Pretty lame piece IMO. The Top Gear writers should dig up some old Jean Shepherd auto stuff and git learn’d how to rite good.

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      Exactly, I’ pretty sure that was staged. I grew up in a medium size southern town that was conservative and I can tell you all they would have gotten without staging would have been stares and laughter. It’ just so over-the-top nobody would believe they’re serious.

  • avatar
    schwerglas

    savannah was used for a grand prix and light car races in 1908

  • avatar
    50merc

    I generally like Booth Babe’s articles, but this one is sadly imitative of Hollywood stereotypes of the South. It’s been said that hillbillies are the only ethnic group that it is totally safe to slander, but the whole of Dixie is pretty close to that.

    And in case there’s any confusion, the Star Spangled Banner is the national anthem below the Mason-Dixon line, too. Dixie is probably the most patriotic region in the country. California and New York are too sophisticated and nuanced for that sort of thing.

  • avatar
    twotone

    And for their next show, the Top Gear guys will drive through Belfast and Dublin with equally inappropriate slogans on their cars. Bet they don’t last as long as they did in the south.

    Twotone

  • avatar
    Disaster

    I suppose someone might get a bit indignant, about the stereotyping, but I can tell you, as a Northerner, the smoking comment hit a funny chord with me. I spent a week in Louisville, on a business trip and was shocked to see people smoking in the isles of the grocery store…ashes falling off cigarettes dangling in their mouths…right down on top of the broccoli.

    • 0 avatar
      EEGeek

      I figured paragraph two was there to set a stage. FWIW, I was pleasantly shocked this weekend to find that North Carolina (Tobacco Road!!) now prohibits smoking in restaurants. We didn’t have to wait longer to get a non-smoking table at my mom’s favorite fish place. I think it’s still OK to smoke in bars in GA if they have a separate ventilation system, but I don’t do bars anyway.

      As for that TG bit – it was classic. They wouldn’t stage that show, would they?

  • avatar

    As a transplanted Northerner who lives right in the center of the NASCAR universe (Mooresville, NC, AKA “Race City”) I have to admit that things are a bit more complicated than Cammy paints them, but there’s a lot of truth there too. I’m not a NASCAR fan at all, but know a lot of people who work in that environment. And there’s a huge amount of effort invested by the powers that be at NASCAR to cultivate the redneck image in order to appeal to a “certain class” of people. You can agree or disagree with that practice, but you can’t argue that it doesn’t work.

    The same thing goes for a lot of the stereotypes you find about the South. Where I grew up, being called a redneck or hick or similar was a serious insult. Here in the South, it’s often considered a compliment and worn as a badge of honor. The Southern hospitality is here – people are friendlier-acting toward strangers than in many other places, but underneath they’re no more or less assholes than anywhere else. There’s just a thicker veneer of civility on top.

    So what you end up having here is two different experiences depending on how much time you spend here. If you’re passing through, you’ll see that the stereotypes appear largely true. But if you spend more time here you come to realize that people everywhere are pretty much the same after you get past the superficial stuff.

    That is, until you get to Alabama. Those people are scary! ;-)

  • avatar
    Invisible

    I’m sorry, that entire gas station encounter is staged, and the acting is really poor.

    It’s Top Gear, and as usual, they fabricated the entire story. Scripted down to most minute detail.

    How many of you believe a pickup full of gun wielding rednecks are at that station owners beckon call and show up with in seconds? NOT LIKELY.

  • avatar
    Syke

    I lived in western PA for 48 years. I’ve lived in central VA (Richmond area) for the past 12. While I’ve usually enjoyed Booth Babe’s Sunday submissions, this one was crap. It’s pretty obvious that she’s never ventured more than a mile off of either I-95 or I-85, and is slinging the usual stereotypes.

    First point wrong: The South’s attitude towards the Civil War has undergone one hell of a transformation just in the twelve years that I’ve been living here – to the point that I’m wondering if I’d be welcome to get out the old 4th VA Inf. kit for the upcoming 150th.

    Hopefully, to keep things fair, she’ll limit her comments on other parts of the United States to: North Easterners are nothing more than a bunch of old hippies, Midwesterners are still living in the Eisenhower era and are boring as hell, Westerners are just gun-crazed survivalists, and Californians are good for nothing more than being hip and trendy (or gay, within a certain distance of San Francisco).

    Get with it, chick. If this is all the better you can write, please spare us next Sunday’s column – no doubt you be hammering on senior citizen Jews driving Cadillacs (Florida).

    And anyone who has ever expected the crew on Top Gear to show any kind of fairness to the United States has got to be kidding themselves. As much as I love the show, I just grit my teeth and have a beer when one of those segments comes on.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Kentucky and Virginia are part of “The South”?

    Oh come now.

    For that matter, neither is Florida, HAH!

  • avatar
    210delray

    Virginia is very much a part of the south. I’m a transplant from Pennsylvania also; having now lived in VA for over 30 years. Once you get away from northern VA (suburbs and exurbs of Washington DC), you are in the south.

    As for smoking, it was banned as of last December 1 in restaurants and bars, unless they provide a separately ventilated room. Most places haven’t bothered — you smoke outside in designated areas if they have outdoor seating. It’s great to enjoy a meal or a drink without the pervasive smell of tobacco smoke.

  • avatar
    rb79

    As an auto show model also, I usually find your blog hilarious and SO true. I will tell you thought that this one was a bit tacky. I am from the very Deep South, and the article was stereotypical of what the rest of the country, i.e. the North and West Coast, thinks of the South, which is far from the truth. Yes, there are some rednecks, but from traveling so much, I have come to learn that there are way more rednecks in other parts of the country than anywhere I have been in the South. The majority of people do not smoke, people are fiercely patriotic and love the Star Spangled Banner (not Dixie), the majority of the South is not fans of NASCAR, and I hardly know any children who own shotguns. This stereotype played out by the media is far from the majority and far from the real truth of what the South is like, but that doesn’t make for good t.v., does it? You can’t have Al Roker interviewing a well-spoken person outside of their house after a hurricane! He has to find a 400 lb. lady missing half her teeth standing outside of her trailer…that makes for good t.v. and what people want to believe about the South. Anyway, during all of my years as a product specialist in auto shows, this is just typical of what my co-workers tend to think about the South. They are usually shocked that I, and everyone I know, is educated, well-spoken, doesn’t have a redneck accent, doesn’t smoke and own a shotgun, doesn’t even know anyone who lives in a trailer, and doesn’t hang out at Walmarts for fun.

    The only thing I can think to compare this to, so that someone from up north or out west would understand how Southerners take this stereotyping is this: Imagine if all the media inferred that everyone from the NY area was a Guido-type person, tanned too much, were greasy, wore big gold chains and wife beaters…or if California was nothing but a bunch of fake dumb beach blondes and valley girl types. It’s just ridiculous. I have always laughed at the rest of the country’s assumptions because it just shows who really is uneducated and close minded.

    Oh, and ZoomZoom, I agree with you. Here in the Deep South, we do not consider, Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky or Florida to be part of the South. Oh AND Texas is not part of the South, so quit calling yourselves Southerners

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      Indeed, some of the most inbred loser douchebags I have ever seen hail from Pennsylvania. I swear they should change their state motto to “The Disability Pension State.” And that’s only because I couldn’t figure out how to work in trailer parks and poker into the slogan.

  • avatar
    shortthrowsixspeed

    “I hardly know any children who own shotguns”

    awesome.

    seriously though. i too have found most of the booth babe’s contributions to be largely vapid and egocentric. Some will say, and have said, that we can choose not to read them. true. The problem, though, is that TTAC’s B&B value this site so greatly that they feel compelled to jealously guard against its deterioration.


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