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Tales from Buzzard Point - Chapter 12: Saved by the (Pit) Crew

The twelfth in our series exploring the rich history and traditions of legendary Buzzard Point – a legacy that the current D.C. United ownership may have set aside in selling naming rights for the new soccer stadium but is forever enshrined in the chants, songs, and hearts of Black-and-Red fandom. 

Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The B&RU Commentariat’s own Doc96 (Dr. Bryan McEachern) recently dusted off his old journalistic skills (see Tales from Buzzard Point VII: Flight of the Loons) to cover the inaugural Formula One Buzzard Point Grand Prix. If you missed the story, it appeared in the feature section of The Evening Star on February 29, 2018, and is reprinted here.

Please ignore The Evening Star’s patronizing headline — as we all know, fickle copy editors and not reporters write headlines.

Niche Sports Combine as Pro Soccer Players Take In F1 Grand Prix

SOUTHWEST — The fog was lifting off the lower Anacostia and the Southwest quadrant of the District early this chilly morning.

Fort McNair saw its parking lots filling with military personnel. The Wharf was engaged in early modifications on recent construction

And Buzzard Point was alive with large hauling trucks. It was as if tons of moving vans were bringing equipment into the new D.C. United stadium ahead of its planned July opening.

Public Domain, via Wikimedia

Several of the soccer team’s players were present to tour their new home at Buzzard Point, and they checked into the added spectacle of a gathering of cargo haulers that were parking along the stadium’s western edge on Second Street, SW. Also strangely present was a bronze statue of Christopher Columbus, set near a conspicuously painted yellow and black semi with “Crew” painted on the side. Its license plate indicated that it had originated in Ohio.

The streets of this peninsula were largely blocked off for the first Formula One Buzzard Point Grand Prix, which would use the broad eastern concourse of the new stadium for garage space. Each of the trucks was hauling precious cargo indeed: sleek and nimble racing machines accompanied by all their maintenance equipment.

Quite soon, various racers and their mechanics were leaking into the scene and within an hour the smooth purring rumble and piercing roar of the cars began to fill the air.

“Man, I like fast things,” said an admiring Paul Arriola. “I wonder how long these things can tear it up without needing refueling.”

He wouldn’t wait long to find out as the Formula One racers were getting themselves arranged for the start. The yellow car stood out with its Columbus Crew badge painted on its sides.

“I’ll tell you what,” the driver of the Crew truck said to the players, “it takes a good crew to win a Formula One race.” The players nodded courteously, and posed for selfies with the statue of Christopher Columbus.

“Why do you guys lug that statue around with you?” asked a curious Steve Birnbaum.

“I’ll tell you what,” the truck driver replied, “we actually had to pull it out of a city square because of some public outcry. We just kind of take care of it. I mean, the dude discovered America, right?”

“The Vikings discovered America,” said a clearly irked David Ousted under his breath.

Near silence set in as the drivers pulled into position and waited for the starting lights to key the race. Suddenly, the silence was broken by the roar of engines as the racers tore into the streets of Southwest D.C. with great gusto.

The race opening was uneventful but for one breakdown. A car sponsored by Austrian energy drink conglomerate Red Bull had a series of malfunctions and came limping back to the garage area having not even completed a single lap.

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

The vehicle was promptly ticketed by the city’s Department of Public Works zealous parking enforcement.

In short order, the Crew car spun after a blown tire -- caused by one of the District’s many famed potholes -- and only some clever driving and garage wizardry in the pit lane kept the car in contention. It was soon back on-track, trying to make up lost ground.

As the race wore on, a patriotic-themed car suffered a throttle failure, leaving the wheels turning with a furious revolution, only to end with smoke billowing out from the gearbox, almost like an ignition of black powder. Suddenly, an emerald green speedster smashed into it. Luckily the driver hit an eject button — a new innovation in the sport.

He flew high into the air, only to have a rocket ignition gently bring him to earth. Sipping from his Starbuck’s travel mug, he quipped, “Saved by Boeing, but I should have had a sounder chassis.” A pigeon perched in a tree above dropped a welcome present on his shoulder.

“Welcome to the original Washington!” jeered a passing driver in a black-and-red racer with the D.C. United badge on both sides. “You just lapped the field!” his spotter radioed back from the stadium’s observation deck with righteous joy.

Not the entire field, it would seem, as a certain yellow vehicle came up on him fast. It was the last lap, and they were furiously pacing each other as the battle raged on the streets of the otherwise sleepy neighborhood.

As the checkered flag waved over Potomac Avenue, SW, the Black and Red Buzzard Point racer triumphed over the field. Still, the second-place Crew driver knew he had run a solid race, and his maintenance team were to thank for the podium finish.

Prizes were awarded, champagne sprayed, and cars returned to their resting spots in the various cargo haulers. As the sun set, the trucks began to leave the area for the next race.

The last truck still on-site was the Ohio hauler, with the statue of Columbus and the Crew machine packed inside. To the amazement of the soccer players, it did not even start.

“I’ll tell you what,” exclaimed the red faced trucker. “It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, and it may not be the biggest moneymaker, this old rig, but the Crew garage team would have saved this like they saved that podium finish. It never would have broken down with the right folks calling the shots.

“Ah well, can you boys help me out?”

Always eager to give back to the community, the D.C. United players began searching through their mobile phones for assistance services.

Suddenly, a limousine with a crowned MLS logo on its door pulled up. Out came Commissioner Don Garber, who was in town to inspect the new stadium at Buzzard Point. He quickly assessed the situation and offered to have another big rig come by to hook up with the Crew cargo container.

The players marveled at the apparent kindness and swiftness of Garber’s actions. Sure enough, a shiny new truck arrived and hitched up with the venerable yellow and gold container. As it pulled away, the Ohio trucker proclaimed, “Check out those slick license plates! I’ll tell you what, those folks in Texas are always eager to lend a helping hand.”

He walked up to Garber and asked, “Thanks, what do we owe you?”

Garber shook his hand and replied with a smile, “Oh, Precourt Trucking Services will be in touch with you to collect. We have a nice partnership with them.”

Note from Series Editor David Rusk: “Tales from Buzzard Point” includes historical fiction and should be considered a work of homage or parody.

All members of the B&RU Commentariat are invited to submit manuscripts of their own research into the history and traditions of Buzzard Point to All proposed tales must a) involve Buzzard Point, b) have some relationship to football/soccer, and c) demonstrate that Buzzard Point is hallowed ground for D.C. United and that our MLS opponents are doomed to never come away from Buzzard Point with a result.