Are You A Nice Guy?

My wife and I just returned from a few exciting weeks in Italy, and something I noticed as we visited locations in northern Italy, like Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, and the Italian Rivera was how amazingly courteous everyone was, especially while negotiating the many narrow streets. Pedestrians, motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, cars, trolleys, taxis, and even a few buses all squeezing by one another, and all devoid of honking, yelling, cutting one another off, or flipping the proverbial bird. Milan was another story!

Courteous drivers and pedestrians together on the same street. You’re kidding, right? It was an amazing phenomenon to witness. Quite a sight to see first-hand, especially if you’ve ever tried to cross the street in Los Angeles, New York, or San Francisco.

There are many times we race our best friend, or our own teammates, but competition is only on the track. When both racers line up their racecars, and then once they cross the finish line, they congratulate each other on a great pass.

As I written before, many times race after a race, I’ve seen racers take parts out of their own stash just so their competitor can race the next round. In fact, I’ve personally loaned important parts to competitors who were going to be racing neck to neck with me for a championship. I’m sure they would have done the same for me. It’s all about respect, on and off the track. Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when letting others know you’re not an easy mark, one who’s not going to be easily pushed around, having a bit of a reputation is equally important.

As a taxi driver motioned to my wife and I to cross in front of him on a narrow street, a Vespa went around the other side of us and without giving it a thought, a lot of pedestrians casually squeezed to both sides of the same narrow street, to allow the taxi to pass. I began thinking about the many endurance races I’ve competed in, with all classes of cars on the track at the same time, some fast as hell while others gave meaning to the term “bricks.”

I learned years ago that there’s no finer organization than NASA when it comes to teaching the true meaning of respect. Being able to see a faster car approaching, knowing that if I give him the line, it might mean the car I am racing might be able to pass me, but choosing to let him go is just such an example of respect. Besides, if I’m confident in my skills, I’ll just pass the car again anyway. The payback comes back tenfold when one day that faster car sees what you’re doing and motions you to pass him. God, that’s a good feeling! Had I not given him the line back then, who knows what he might have done today.

While corresponding with the Ferrari Factory in Maranello prior to leaving for Italy, I was invited to test drive their amazing Ferrari 488 Challenge car on their private test track at the Autodrome of Modena. It’s easy to appreciate the excitement I felt. As the arrangements were being made, unfortunately Frederica of Ferrari and I came to the realization that due to the time constraints of our itinerary, things wouldn’t work out this time.

The good news is I now have a standing offer to drive their car the next time we return to Italy, already tentatively in the works. As it turned out, it’s just as well since on the day I was to drive, it rained cats and dogs. Karma, it’s a beautiful thing.


  1. Over the past several years I taught our 3 boys how to drive. One of the lessons I hammered home was that “driving is a collaborative effort. People that behave as if it’s a competition are shitheads. If someone wants in front of you, help them make it happen.”

    In traffic when someone behaves poorly, smile knowingly. You’ve got vastly more skills than they do, you just prefer not to wear it on your sleeve.

    • Scott, always lead by example. The dividends are rewarding. Your 3 sons will one day hand down these lessons to their children. Good job dad.

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