Sunday, August 06, 2006

My Trip To Waco... Part Two

When we last left our hero, we had

Witnessed the crazed child who kicks ducks in the butt.
Explored the seedy underbelly of a ring of children's amusement parks, complete with anti-missile defense systems.
Spelunked-ed the trophy room of a rocker turn bow hunter, complete with stuffed animals not too appropriate for your children's playroom.

So, it would seem that after my gracious insider's tour of Waco there'd be little left to discuss... right?


Notice how the words got bigger just then? That was to emphasize the importance of what's in store for you in this little ditty. So, what's more important than dead animals and Dr. Pepper? How about all the great food Texas has to offer? I offer you Exhibit A.

Like a beacon in the night (or a really high road sign in the day) Pancho's Mexican Buffet calls to me like... like what I said before. This location happens to be in Temple, Texas, which is about 40 minutes South of Waco, and just outside of Killeen, where Ft. Hood is located. There was a Pancho's in Waco, but sadly they lost their lease in 2003... Rest in Peace Pancho's of Waco... Rest in Peace.

Still, this one is close enough for me... Ah... Pancho's. Nothing quite like it, quite literally, since most buffets make you get up to get more... but not my amigo Pancho, no sir.

Instead, you walk through the line and get your taquitos, chile rellenos, flautas, enchiladas (chicken, beef, cheese, southwest), beans, rice, menudo (not the group, although that'd be cool I guess), freshly made tacos and burritos, tamales... I could go on. Anyway, take all that to your table. Waitress comes and brings you the prerequisite chips and salsa, even though you don't have to wait for your meal, along with fresh guacamole and tortillas. After all of that, when you want more, instead of getting up, you raise a little Mexican flag located on your table.

This is where Pancho's has it all over other buffets, Including Jimmy... I can't imagine he'd taste all that good... kinda old and stringy I'd bet. You see, once you raise the flag, back comes your waitress to bring you whatever you want. Two tamales? No problem. a couple of chicken enchiladas and a taco? No sweat. Four chalupas, a taco, three cheese enchiladas, some churros, a bowl of guac, some corn tortillas and another Dr. Pepper? Awesome. Seriously, you just can't get better... Matter of fact, if I were to look in my pictures, I could probably find more of me at Pancho's...

Yes, lets...

Here I am sometime in January of 2000, with my good buddy John, in the historic Pancho's of Waco, Texas. Shown here is the Mexican Flag that was integral in getting your fill of Tex-Mex. Oh, Tex-Mex is like Mexican food, only a little less authentic and more spicy (and to me... better). The flag can also be untied and placed on your cars antenna, if you are so inclined.
Here I am back in July. Nothing really has changed in six years. Man, I coulda sworn I had more pictures... guess you get too busy eating and all.

So, what else did I eat in while back in Waco? How about some ham, a mess o' collard and turnip greens with some good ol' cornbread...

Shown here is the afore mentioned meal, with a glass of sweet tea. Bet you thought you'd never see a picture of collards on the internet... Honestly, neither did I. Funny thing, your reading about stuff that I ate, with accompanying photos... you loser. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone...

Other things I ate, but do not have the pictures of, include:

Real Texas BBQ... complete with Beef Brisket and Sausage.
Fried Chicken... need I say more?
Steak... Because I haven't had enough meat.
Chicken Fried Steak... Not to be confused with Fried Chicken, Chicken Fried Steak is a tougher cut of beef pounded with a cleaver, breaded (ala fried chicken) and deep fried. Served under a gallon of white gravy, the kind you find when you order biscuits and gravy... the kind that usually kills a person by itself, let alone the fact I just ate over a pound of meat underneath it.

Hot damn I love my Southern Food. Moving on...

Oh, as promised... another picture of the Boy Who Kicks Ducks.

This one shows the innocent duck right at the second where he realizes that the child is not holding a loaf of bread, and instead about to kick him into the water. Some days, it's not so great being a duck... Still I suppose the alternatives could be worse.

Now for the Main Event!

On Friday, my mother and I drove out to Bellmead (just north of Waco) to watch the races at the Heart O Texas Speedway!

Brought to you by Dr. Pepper (or so it would seem, since the sign for the Speedway gets second billing) the HOT Speedway is a place to watch car races, and as you shall soon see, demolition derbies. By the way, HOT is the way we in Central Texas save time by not saying Heart O Texas... and no, no one ever says Of... just O. For example, when I was a kid I played soccer at the HOT Soccer Fields. Boring, I know... moving on.

So, as to not be one of those high falutin' Speedways, nothing here is really paved. I mean, if the racetrack is dirt, why would they pave the parking lot? So, you park your car in the field outside the grandstands (okay... bleachers... old wooden bleachers), buy your ticket and walk inside. And from the minute you get out of your car, you are greeted with the sweet smell of gasoline and dirt, and the sound of big cars runnin' straight pipe.

There are fifteen races or so in a usual evening, all comprising a different class of car. Usually the races are 12-15 laps, have 10-20 cars, and there is at least one instance a race where the yellow flag comes out (due to the fact there was a spin out, stalled car, or something that could be not so safe for all the drivers). During any given race, this is what you see:

I tried taking lots of pictures... but the cars are moving pretty fast, and its kinda dark... Most of the cars bodies have reinforced steel welded to them, since most of the cars are clunker bodies to begin with. Still, you also have your special modified variety....

These cars move a litter faster, as you could imagine. Now, when the yellow flag is waved, the cars just kind of cruise around the track while a tow truck gets the car out of the way. It takes a few minutes... as they'll just push the car off of the track. During one instance, I guess the tow truck was busy, so instead...

Kinda looks like the tractor is breaking some speed barriers... doesn't it?

They also have a race that is just for the jr. racers. The cars are limited to a certain engine size, and are usually old civics and other small hatch backs. The age range for this race is 12-16! Basically, if you have a driver's license, you're probably too old. Gotta love it.

Now when a race is over, the winning car pulls into the winner's circle, and anyone associated with the racer goes down there for a picture. This always includes a bunch of kids who have nothing to do with the racer or the pit crew, but just want to be on the track with the cars.

As the evening wears on, the number of kids slowly grow with each race, to the point where the last picture contains a million kids, and... where'd the car go? Notice that in all these pictures there's a protective layer of wire fence protecting me from 2,000 pound cars hurling around a track made of dirt. Aside from that dirt being thrown in your face by the cars, somehow... you feel safe.

But hey, you don't care about some stupid cars going around a track, do you? No... all you care about are some stupid cars driving into each other over and over again! Well, I don't blame you. Now, I had only been to the race track once before, and on that occasion there was no Demolition Derby. Seems that tonight was a treat for all in attendance. I believe there were seven cars competing in that night's derby.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with a Demolition Derby, the object is to be the last car still able to move. That's it. Strategy is basically comprised of backing your car into the other cars, specifically the front. You see, your car is less likely to move if your radiator is cracked. You can tell when a car's radiator is leaking when you start to see white smoke coming out of the hood. Yes, it's just like the movies and video games depict. Also, for those of you wondering, the gas tank which is almost alayes located in the rear of the car is not used. Instead they put a gas can in the back seat (or where the back seats were), bolted down to the floor. That way there aren't any gas leaks or explosions. Gotta keep this as safe as possible.

I could show you a bunch of photos, but instead, I think I'll show you a movie... Yeah, I'm high tech like that...

Pretty cool huh? After the carnage, (and after finishing my Dr. Pepper and huge Dill Pickle), I went down on the track to take pictures...

This car didn't do so well...

This car used his rear a lot. The side used to read "Allen Samuels."

This station wagon will not be taking the kids to soccer practice (at the HOT Soccer Fields, or anywhere else for that matter)

This Dad gets my vote for "Coolest Take Your Son To Work Day EVER"

And now for your winner:
Seriously, this car looks tough... Chains holding up the fender and everything. The trophy doesn't quite fit on the hood though. Maybe something like a chain with a wrench hanging off of the rear view mirror... wait, there isn't one. Well, in any case if I smoked, I'd be lightin' up next to that dude there and sayin' something like "Shoo', that thare car shore tore it up dammit." Actually I did say that, without lighting a cigarette. See kids, you can be whatever you want without tobacco products. If you do use them, though, make sure the car isn't leaking any kind of caustic fluids...

And that brings this little journey of mine to a close. I'm glad you took the time to learn about all that Waco has to offer (mostly meat, dead animals, car racing, and Dr. Pepper), and I hope you leave knowing a bit more about the town that shaped the way...

Okay, I got nothin'.

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