Do I Have To Be Fast To Have A Good Time?

An important lesson every rookie driver should learn is never to worry about more experienced or faster drivers coming up behind them, as long as they hold their line and respect others on track. Experienced drivers can make the determination as to when and how to make the pass, and at the end of the day everyone will have had a good time.

Some of my most satisfying accomplishments in motorsports haven’t been getting my rookie license, beating a competitor, or even winning races. For me it has been building and preparing the perfect racecar, one that can last, is fast, and responds the way I want it to on race day given track conditions, weather, etc. Don’t get me wrong. Winning was and always will be satisfying, but the single most important factor is having a good time. When you’re no longer having a good time regardless of which sport you choose, it may be time to consider another sport. I hear croquet is making a comeback.

Motorsports can be about having fun and winning, depending on the individual’s perspective. For many drivers, motorsports can be a way to enjoy physical activity, socialize, and have fun. However, like all competitive sports, winning can be a significant goal for drivers and their teams, and for teams with sponsors, the pressure can be even higher. Ultimately, the purpose of auto racing can vary from person to person, and it often encompasses a combination of enjoyment, competition, teamwork, and personal growth.

Often a driver can enjoy a weekend at the track, but he or she lacks the self-confidence to believe they could be better than they presently are. It’s a huge rush when that moment arrives when we say, “Wow, I did that?” Now that’s having a good time!

It’s important to consider your skill level and your enjoyment when getting involved in motorsports. Driving cleanly and fast can boost your confidence and provide a sense of accomplishment, but you do not have to win to have a good time. Enjoying the excitement and exhilaration of being in a pack of racecars can lead to greater overall satisfaction and motivation regardless of whether you are at the front of the pack, midpack, or even at the rear.

In fact, I don’t know any driver who doesn’t enjoy those races that started them at the rear of the pack, but that’s a story for another column. Ultimately, finding a balance between skill and enjoyment can lead to a fulfilling and rewarding driving/racing experience.

You don’t have to be in the winning car or on the podium at the end of the day, but you should be willing to try to see what makes motorsports interesting or fun for others. Everyone has had moments they tried something and ended up telling themselves, “This is fun. I wish I would have tried it out sooner.” It’s no different in motorsports. The day I met lifelong friend Jerry Kunzman and joined NASA, my life changed exponentially and yes, in retrospect, even the bad days were having a good time. Figure that one out!

Coming into a new sport as a beginner can seem daunting, but a lack of experience shouldn’t deter anyone. And for heaven’s sake, if you’re out to impress others with your street racing adeptness, — or lack thereof, which is nearly always the case — consider convincing yourself that you’re here to “improve” instead of “impress.” No matter what your skill level is, if you want to join NASA and race cars, or simply become a better driver or just be an alumnus of motorsports to enjoy yourself, you will always have something to gain and something to offer.

Just as it was when I was in high school, I was the school runt, but still I tried out for the football team. Yes, I ended up sitting on the bench most of the time, but I made the team and my self-esteem shot through the roof. Now that’s having a good time.

Author Gary Faules is No. 28 in the lower right corner.
Image courtesy of Gary Faules

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