To drive anywhere close to a shopping mall and to give even a second of thought to actually turning into its death-zone parking lot during this week of holiday madness is to tempt fate in the worst way.
You can get hurt in there.
There are women with huge shopping bags and hands filled with plastic, and they are on a mission. Watch them as they exit through cars and head for the mall entrance. They accelerate as they get closer. This is roughly similar to Cale Yarborough charging from fifth place on the last lap.
And there are very confused men stopping at every jewelry shop (and every mall seems to have a dozen), all looking for that very expensive looking piece of Christmas gold that will make the female happy but will cost only $49.99, leaving the rest of the shopping budget for important things like hockey jerseys and NFL caps and NASCAR diecasts.
And then there are the mall rats and brats. The rats are there to shoplift and eye the opposite sex, not necessarily in that order. The brats are there to harass Santa and to run rampant through the corridors and jump across the escalators and flagrantly disobey their parents.
Why would you even consider entering the zoo? Still gotta shop, with the final laps of the pre-Christmas calendar dwindling?
It’s all online. But you must act super-fast. Just pretend you’re Kyle Busch dropping onto pit road.
Diecasts? The 2011 models for some drivers already are available. Jeff Gordon’s new Drive To End Hunger red and black Chevrolet. Kasey Kahne’s brand new No. 4 Red Bull car. Kevin Harvick’s No. 29 in new Budweiser livery. The Miller Lite No. 2 car with Brad Keselowski’s name over the window.
They’re 1:24 scale, and you can get them for $59.99 each.
Wonder what happened to all that old Daytona International Speedway asphalt when the place was repaved this year? Well, much of it was saved for recycling — to you.
You can get a hunk of the track reshaped into Dale Earnhardt’s famous No. 3 for a mere $149.99. Get one for Mom and one for Dad. Matching pieces for the bedside.
Over at fathead.com, you can buy huge — and by huge we mean HUGE — racing sticky-type stuff to slap onto the wall of your den or playroom or billiard hall or, if Mom’s not looking, her bedroom. A full-length photo of Dale Earnhardt Jr., for instance, can cover about two feet by six feet of your wall space for only $99.99. The photo was not shot in victory lane because … well, you know why.
Got a France family-sized budget? Well, move along to sportsmemorabilia.com, where you can get a Jeff Gordon autographed helmet for $562.49 or one signed by Tony Stewart for $618.74. Why the difference? No one can explain retail.
And, for the fan who has everything, buy a helmet from the 1991-93 period signed by an assortment of drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Sr., Ricky Rudd, Darrell Waltrip and Alan Kulwicki. A bargain at $2,542.72.
Best deal? Drop in at the store at SPEED.com. Cool T-shirts for only $8.75. Pardon the shameless self-promotion.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.