The Highway 61 500 is only 200 to the border, but it runs the whole summer and is open to all competitors. The start flag drops with the start of the fishing season. Once open, the speedway will remain active until schools start after Labor Day. A Sedate Sixty One 500, for those interested in a charming and less stressful alternative, begins with the start of autumn colors known locally as the Month of the Buick (also some Olds and Cadillac will be seen) People looking for panoramas of color while on the everlasting quest for the perfect cucumber sandwich served on a porcelain plate with Darjeeling tea in a true China cup and matching saucer. You will not a Millennial see unless waiting tables, lost, or cast out from its kind due to thumb injury rendering the sufferer a voiceless non grata.

You’d be amazed and not infrequently terrified by how fast a Wisconsin pickup pulling a honking big boat can go on scenic Highway 61. I singled out the Dairy State because they do dominate the race, but teams from Land of Lincoln and that other nearby agricultural state with four letters in its name are amply represented. Lugging a thousand pounds of oversize boat and motor on a trailer doesn’t appeal to me as fun meaning I am likely doomed to not land the lunker of lore and will be forced to dine on mignon fillets instead of Pisces pieces with the money I’ve saved. I hope to hold up bravely under this non-sportsman burden. Having a costly boat, RV, or other device sit idle most of the year is not my idea of relaxing. In July is a snowmobile even much fun to look at? People must have a stronger imagination than mine. Or maybe they drink to conjure the mood. I’m guessing alcohol plays some role. In any case those who sportify their lives with gear and drink contribute more to the economy than I. Blessing rain upon them.

If you travel on the Sixty One 500 daily as I do you’ll develop survival instincts that tell you a poxy big truck with swaying trailer that’s bumper kissing will wait until a clear shot at pedal to the metal expires before tromping the hell out of the gas at the base of a blind hill or start of a double yellow on a curve. You just know they’re going to do it same as over time you get to learn people will slow down in either of our famous North Shore tunnels, I guess that’s so they can stop in time in the event the tunnel roof collapses in front of them. Knowing what happens in epic disaster movies they prepare for the scene seen so many times in one of the regular “We’re all going to die” box office thrillers.

The in a hurry vacation driver forces a degree of speeding because if you do drive the limit you’ll become the head of a long segmented vehicular worm. This becomes a danger in its own right because some nut bar will attempt passing ten cars and go 120 to do so in order to reach their destination a trifle earlier. It can be exciting. So in order not to be part of such a multi car wreck I find a slight nudge over 55 to be a sensible form of illegal wisdom. On occasion, inspired by kindness of heart I generally lack, I’ll show mercy to a tailgate nudger (my father called them waltzing mice from the habit of flipping back and forth across the center line) by slowing down to the highway minimum. With surprising (or is it) frequency they have no idea what to do and go bravely on with the mouse waltz at 45 rather than 60. I mean, gee whiz already. You’ve been wanting to pass for miles, so pass! Eventually the Nervous Mel will catch on, but sometimes it takes by far longer than you’d think. Me saying human behavior can be odd is like you saying I can be annoying. We know these things.

It’s curiously interesting, though, how involving it becomes when one gets involved in the habit of saluting the bloody obvious. I experience those rushes and surges from taking life in hands on the Sixty One 500 every day of the summer. Others, and I find this harder to understand, hit a level of fit (I do not mean the fitness form) over something Trump says or does. Does the same person blither on about everything? A dog barks and a multi minute polemic has to be spoken? Trump is very annoying and highly unconventional. What’s the point of repeatedly putting one’s nose in that diaper and then giving an odor report? Geez already! I say things like that to people and they gawk, “But he lies!” Well sweetie, so did the last one, just as much by my count, but far and away was much smoother and nicer at it. One cycle Obama is some people’s demon and the next it’s Trump’s turn. This does nothing. Drop the emotion and zero in on factual content. Our leaders thrive on “alternative facts.” Obama did it. Trump does it. I sometimes wonder if the public isn’t like one of the Sixty One 500 waltzing mice going too fast without enough vision.

Take the recent after Charlottesville thing. Saying there are good people on both sides is a very liberal position. It’s not right wing. It’s support of tolerance and of listening which proper labeling can and does make sound right nasty. President Obama said things equally or more questionable. I can point them out. It’s easy to see if you trace content and follow it above the cry of emotion. It’s true there are white supremacists and neo Nazis, but they are not numerous. On the other hand one supremacist groups numbers millions and adheres to a leader who assured them they are the master belief and Jews are descended from apes and pigs. As on Highway 61, the race is on. Do we run on emotion and conjecture or do we roll with reason and fact?