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Kick-off of the 2019 Almost Annual Seersucker Seminar at Duke University

Memorial Day signaled the beginning of summer, and thousands — maybe millions — heeded the call of sun and air, often with an abandon that felt rich and new after being socially distanced for months. It also is a traditional day for seersucker-loving men and women, signaling when men can again look like Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird and women can feel carefree-fresh in summer’s heat. For the past few years, a few of the seersucker crowd at Duke University have gathered to share a meal, talk some shop, and preen in seersucker a little. …

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Two baskets of the hoard. The rest chilling in the fridge.

“heres the deal,” I texted, “1 dozen for 1 roll. make sure its whole.”

A dozen eggs for a roll of toilet paper: a fair exchange in these times, I thought.

“delivr is prob,” came the reply. Yes, it is, I agreed.

I had imagined a furtive exchange at an isolated location, with the actors peering at each other from afar to keep up the social distancing. Maybe we’d crouch behind a bush or tree and catch a glimpse through binoculars — small spy-gear ones, like opera glasses. …

Before the race, two young men give final instructions to a race car driver through the door window.
Before the race, two young men give final instructions to a race car driver through the door window.
Last checks before the start. Faces are still fresh and voices loud enough to rise over the roar.

Even in North Carolina’s sweltering August, bridges over Hyco Lake let you run through mist in the morning. The morning was cool enough that white mist swirled as we drove the 45-minute trek to Virginia International Raceway — also known as VIR. The acronym always harkened the classicist in me, vir being Latin for “man,” especially since car racing is still very much a guy thing. For good reason, my daughter calls these events “sausage fests.” My wife and I were heading to a ChumpCar 24-hour race, starting midday Saturday and ending Sunday.

We arrived after preparations were underway, begun well before dawn in idle hopes that teams might stay the hand of Dark Chaos and Old Night during the race. Beast Mode Racing, our team, headquartered itself up by the garages that would later be very useful. …


Mark DeLong

Mark DeLong writes, researches, and teaches at Duke University. He is currently writing a book on the automobile and the power of art in America.

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