Whether you love Hunter Thompson or loathe him, “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved” is one of the most entertaining–and subsequently influential–pieces of Derby writing on record.
It’s even recently been turned into an audio recording featuring actors and musicians Tim Robbins, Dr. John, Bill Frisell and Will Forte.
But fair warning: Thompson’s writing suits mature audiences and is best accompanied by some variety of bourbon and ice. Whet your tastebuds here, and read the entire piece–for free!–at KentuckyDerby.info here.
“The next day was heavy. With only thirty hours until post time I had no press credentials and–according to the sports editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal–no hope at all of getting any. Worse, I needed two sets: one for myself and another for Ralph Steadman, the English illustrator who was coming from London to do some Derby drawings. All I knew about him was that this was his first visit to the United States. And the more I pondered the fact, the more it gave me fear. How would he bear up under the heinous culture shock of being lifted out of London and plunged into the drunken mob scene at the Kentucky Derby? There was no way of knowing. Hopefully, he would arrive at least a day or so ahead, and give himself time to get acclimated. Maybe a few hours of peaceful sightseeing in the Bluegrass country around Lexington. My plan was to pick him up at the airport in the huge Pontiac Ballbuster I’d rented from a used-car salesman name Colonel Quick, then whisk him off to some peaceful setting that might remind him of England.”