Clint Eastwood’s character Harry Callahan asked, “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?” As I sit here in my study this morning, enjoying a cup of coffee and watching the snow falling to the ground, I am whisked away to thoughts of racing on West Coast tracks hot enough to fry an egg on. Now that I live in New Mexico, I find myself missing being able to drive just a short distance to some of the best road courses in the world: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Sonoma Raceway, Buttonwillow, Willow Springs and others. I took all that for granted it seems, never really realizing how good I had it. How I wish I was towing to a track today, be it California, Texas, back East, or any track for that matter.
You must admit, living near racetracks is a huge bonus. Short drive times, minor gas expense, minimal time off work required and still close enough to make a quick run back to the shop to grab an unexpected, needed part.
Believe it or not, there are many advantages to living near a racetrack. I’ve read fresh air is known to improve alertness and balance levels of serotonin, attributed to mood and stress, but who needs all that when you can enjoy the smell of race fuel and burning tires! Besides, getting away from your regular routine may be just what you need to get your brain thinking outside the box. Not having the luxury of having a track close to home only tends to make you lean toward not going, whereas realizing it only requires a short drive to get there makes things more enticing.
Did you know there are studies that show that men who don’t take time off from work are more likely to suffer from heart disease, and women who don’t get away frequently are more prone to suffer from depression? Hey guys, you can always have a stent installed, but lord have mercy if Mama gets depressed! Like I said, living close to racetracks has its advantages. And if you think Dirty Harry can be tough, just wait until Mama says, “Go ahead. Make my day.”
More than 2,000 years ago, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence,” and this still rings true today. I’ve never met a racer that didn’t love spending time at the track. In my latter years, I find spending time walking through the pits, seeing old friends and making new ones, just as rewarding as I did seated behind the wheel. Yeah, it happens. But it’s even better when I can do it more often.
Sitting here today, remembering so many races, friends, good times and being able to do so as often as I wanted, I am feeling accomplished and in the same heartbeat, empty. Yes, I’m jealous of those of you who live close to those places where dreams are made, goals are accomplished, and trophies are won, but don’t feel sorry for me. Just realize that what’s so great about living close to those amazing tracks are those great drivers who raced before you, tracks where you never have ask whether something exciting will happen today, but rather when it will happen.
And who knows, one of these days you might just see a strange car gaining on your rear bumper, then come to realize it’s Faules, with that look in his eyes that says, “Go ahead, make my day.”