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Backstory: Biggest Rookie Mistake

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Published December 29, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated December 29, 2021 at 2:17 p.m.


Fans at Thunder Road - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • Fans at Thunder Road

This "backstory" is a part of a collection of articles that describes some of the obstacles that Seven Days reporters faced while pursuing Vermont news, events and people in 2021.


I'd never been to Thunder Road before I was sent there on assignment in July, and I assumed, based on no evidence, that there would be food. I also assumed that at least one vendor would accept credit cards, and, if not, that there would be an ATM machine on the premises. I believed these things with my whole heart, and therefore I did not bring cash.

So when my partner and I arrived to take in a Thursday evening race, neither of us was prepared for the electronic payment desert in which we found ourselves. Worst of all, we'd eaten nothing beforehand. We passed concession stand after concession stand, all of them cash-only. I asked a red-shirted attendant where I could find the nearest ATM. "Probably somewhere in town," he said. 

In a burst of magical thinking, I suggested we try the beer tent, but the man working the cooler also rejected our plastic money. My partner discovered a single $5 bill in his wallet, which we spent on a tall can of Budweiser. The liquid staved off the gurgling in my innards for about 45 minutes. At some point, I began to have intrusive thoughts about Buffalo wings. Eventually, we passed through hunger entirely and emerged on the side of terse apathy. If it had been possible to converse over the roar of the engines, I probably would have said something I regretted. 

Just before the fireworks finale, we left for McDonald's, the only place still open at that hour. In the parking lot, a guy was picking up a pizza from a Domino's delivery driver. If only we'd been that resourceful.