Two weeks ago we invited readers to help make public policy. We did it because we believe most Americans have more to contribute to the democratic process than simply punching a voting ballot every once in a while. The average citizen, we feel, has something important to say about the economy, about the environment, about public safety and social services, and about sports stadium nomenclature.
Especially sports stadium nomenclature.
That's why, when county and municipal bureaucrats fretted over a suitable name for the new $57 million auto racetrack in Homestead, only to come up with The Metro-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex, we saw the result as what it was: a pathetic cry for help. So we asked readers to suggest a better name for the racetrack and send their moniker of choice to Metro Commission Chairman Art Teele, Dade County Manager Armando Vidal, and Homestead City Manager Will Rudd. We even offered the additional enticement of prizes: The author of our favorite submission would get to drive the pace car in the 1996 Miami Grand Prix.
And oh how the odor of petroleum and the crunch of high-speed collisions inspired the muses! The New Times fax machine and mailbag were virtually clogged with responses. There must have been at least a dozen.
Suggestions ranged from the prosaic ("Miami International Raceway," "In Miami Raceway," "Homestead Southern Raceway," "Dade Racetrack at Homestead," and the traditionalist "Homestead Motorsports Complex") to the outright loopy ("Whiz-Zoom Speedway," "Varoom," and "Scoopy Do Racetrack"). From the vaguely bitter and dismissive ("You Can Spit on the Homestead Motorsport Track & Pit from Metro-Dade Raceway" and "That Track Down South") to the topical and sardonic ("A.C. Cowlings Speedway of Love," "Homestead Hurricane Sportsplex," and the "Joe Gersten Memorial Speedway").
One artistically inclined Miami resident even created a multicolored logo to go with her suggestion, the snappy "Speed World USA."
Fort Lauderdale entrant Ronney Lee Livermore didn't stop at suggesting a name. He included slogans to match: "Homestretch Speedway: Come to the Homestretch in Homestead"; "Hurricane Alley Speedway: It's a Breeze to Find Us in Homestead"; and (our personal favorite) "Homestead Whirlwind Speedway: Prepare to Be Blown Away!"
Though we're still kinda partial to two of the tags we came up with -- the frolicsome Ho-Down at Ho-Dade Raceway, and the hemispherically aware Oval o' the Americas -- we have deep respect for a person who sees the marketing promise of cheesy puns. Mr. Livermore, the keys to the pace car are in the mail.
Still, no contestant floored it off the line with the gusto of Miami Beach resident Al Sief. Coming up with the name "Rat Track," he helpfully noted that "The Rat Track is a natural place for Frank Sinatra." And so moved was Sief at the idea of this opportunity to participate in the affairs of government, that he also sent along a poem.
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Titled "Out Town," the verse is an existential musing on the notion of the afterlife, and begins:
When someone dies, where does the spirit go?
Into a puppy or a swift, black crow?
Sorry to joke on such a serious theme
But I think things are not what they seem.
Many people today think death is the end,
That there's nothing at all around the bend.
Well, we know the universe is kinda large,
And we should admit God's in charge.
Though the connection to Homestead's motorsport facility seems tenuous at best, we liked Mr. Sief's elan. So we're upping the honorable-mention ante: Not only does he win the promised tango lessons with Miami Motorsports partners Ralph Sanchez and Wayne Huizenga, but we've also reserved the jump seat in the pace car just for him.
Just keep your hands off the steering wheel, Al.