As I enter my golden years, I am realizing besides those whom I hold dearest, the things I cherish most are my memories of days gone by and believe me, there are many. Some of my most precious memories are those related to my racing career with NASA, and these are memories I will keep forever. Unlike trophies that collect dust and tarnish, and eventually find their way to a shelf in the garage, these memories will glimmer and shine on for a lifetime.
When I think about it, racing is indeed investing in your future. It’s a scientific fact that memories of happy experiences, especially ones that involve social interaction, seem to benefit people because they reshape how we see ourselves for the better. Nostalgia has been shown to counteract boredom and anxiety. It makes people feel closer and look happier when they’re sharing nostalgic memories.
Can you image how you will feel one day, many years from now when you begin reminiscing about race stories from your past, with others like, “So there I was, down in Mexico racing in La Carrera Panamericana and really hanging the ass-end out there, when I came around the corner, and standing right in the middle of the road was a donkey!”
My long racing career with NASA has given me more excitement than I could ever share in 10 lifetimes, which I have invested in my memory bank. One day, years from now when I need it, I will make a withdrawal from my investments and savor those moments.
Many of those memories, which I have banked, are all about “firsts.” And lord knows, NASA sure has created a lot of firsts for so many of its members. Besides all the wonderful friendships I’ve made with my NASA family, here are a few examples of those cherished firsts.
My first HPDE in my brand new Dodge Viper GTS Coupe. I was more akin to a speedbump in the corners, which was humbling to say the least. Then there was taking the rookie written exam for a racing license. I felt pretty relaxed after the test as our instructor said, “Next you go out for your on-course drivers’ evaluation. Just drive 80 percent, keep things clean, and you’ll be fine.” Then came the on-course drivers’ exam and one of my classmates said, “I’m just going to be smart and go 80 percent.” Without hesitation the chief instructor says, “The first guy I see doing 80 percent will get sent home so fast he won’t know what hit him. When I sign off someone for a race license, I am guaranteeing every other driver on the track that you are capable of racing at 100 percent.”
One of my favorite firsts was my very first race as a non-rookie, which was at the world-class WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Need I say more? It was a rush that will stay with me forever. Another first that stands out was my first crash. Thanks to NASA’s high safety standards, I was ready to race again in less than a couple hours. But there were many more firsts, including standing upon the podium for the first time, then winning my first season’s championship, and not forgetting the pièce de resistance of being the first three-time winner of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill.
So never forget, just like me, when you are a NASA member, you are indeed investing in one of the most precious commodities you’ll ever possess. Happy memories form the cornerstone of our identity, and can influence our happiness in the current moment, as well as provide a framework for our hopes and dreams of the future.