There is a dream in America, that the little can become great. That the ordinary has a chance to live out its potential to be powerful and groundbreaking. That dream is four-cylinder racing.
The worst cars. The shittiest, the slowest, the dullest. The least attractive, the most overlooked. These are what you see parading two-by-two at a four-cylinder starting grid.
Chevy Cavaliers are front-runners. They cut fast into the corners, cocking up an inside wheel and diving away from the puff of tire smoke left by their momentarily-locked rears.
I watched a Saturn win a race. A Saturn. I was not aware that a Saturn was capable of winning anything, that there was a first place hidden in the heart of any Saturn ever made.
In four-cylinder racing, a Saturn can be a winner. You can knock out the windows of your Ford ZX2, strip it, cage it, and compete.
Your old Prelude need not be a laughing stock. Your Prelude can be a champion. Let your champagne, your shook-up cans of Miller spray over its hood as you see the checkered flag wave over you. It did this past weekend at the high-banked third-mile of Wall Speedway.
I was there. I had cheered for the Nissan 240SX. It was the only rear-drive entry in the field. It looked right: simple blue/white paint scheme with no ugly stickers. It might not have been born a sports car so much as a sporty car, but it was as close to a thoroughbred as anything in its race. I was wrong to cheer for it.
The Prelude won. I didn't see it as a victory for a team, or for a team's dedication or hard work. The car did look immaculately prepped, right down to the weight-saving headlight stickers instead of headlights, and the inside-side wheels poking past the fenders.
I saw the Prelude's first place as a victory for the ordinary, and that what the rest of the world might see as a crapcan can be a screaming, winning race machine.
When you laugh at a four-cylinder race, you laugh with the competitors. You are celebrating the silliness of the America dream. We all know it doesn't exist, but we play along anyway. It's too powerful a thought. It's certainly enough to push forward four-cylinder race cars all over the country, all summer long.
Photo Credits: Raphael Orlove