As I watched the NASCAR Cup race last night at Nashville Superspeedway, I became bored watching my favorite driver Chase Elliott, who, for whatever reason, was barely able to hang in the top 10. Making matters worse, the race seemed to drag on forever because of lightning warnings, which required them to stop the race for 30-minute intervals. Then Elliott was penalized for a loose wheel, sending him to the back of the pack. Just when it appeared things couldn’t get worse, it began to rain, bringing out a two-hour delay! The race was taking so long, NASCAR stopped airing it and limited updates.
Finally, the rain stopped, the track dried and racing resumed. With all the rubber washed away, it was an entirely different race now. Elliott, who was back at the rear of the pack, began a methodical march toward the front, picking off cars one at a time until he was in first place with less than 15 laps to go and a sizable lead. Right when I thought he’s got this one in the bag, someone blew an engine, putting oil down, which required a restart. Elliott found himself in third place with five laps to go, and unbelievably, he managed once again to make the passes and win the race.
I began wondering if Elliott ever felt like winning this one just wasn’t possible? Races like this should serve as lessons to all of us that winners never give up, regardless how adverse things look. Rookies or any driver who’s not yet stood on the podium should adhere to this way of thinking. Winning is for those of us with tenacity. More often than not, it demands an effort that seems to exceed our abilities.
Without caring about our weaknesses and how we feel, life places what seem like insurmountable obstacles in our path to success, but rewards those who are willing to keep pushing themselves, regardless of what limits are presented to them, so you have no justifiable reason to give up.
People might try to talk you out of pursuing your goals and dreams. They’ll tell you what you’re trying to accomplish is out of your reach. You know your potential and the great things you are capable of. So, use the naysayers as your inspiration and keep pushing ahead. NASA is filled with many such winning attitudes, nationwide. After all, you will never meet a winner who didn’t believe in themselves.
On an entirely separate topic, I am proud to announce my new role as Executive Director of the Unser Racing Museum, one of the finest racing museums in the world. Not only is my office surrounded by some of the finest racecars in the world of motorsports, but many of them are also the actual racecars that won the Indianapolis 500, Pikes Peak and other races, by legends like the Unsers, and many others.
Imagine, standing beside Indianapolis-winning racecars, four driven by Al Unser Sr., three by Bobby Unser, and two by Al Unser Jr., who coincidentally is a NASA member. That’s nine total Indy wins for the Unser family alone, and that’s not even counting an unbelievable amount of Pikes Peak victories. The trophy room alone is humbling, filled with more than 8,000 beautiful trophies. Allow me to personally invite all NASA members and family to visit.
Life after racing is proving to be very rewarding, and I owe much of that to NASA. It touches me deeply when reading a quote from Al Unser Sr.’s wife, Susan Unser, who wrote, “I cannot help but think Al had a hand in your being at his public memorial. Looking forward to a successful future as part of Team Unser.”
Al Sr is my favorite driver!! He once told a story that he was at a corporate dinner in the buffet line. A fella said to him what do you do for a living?
I’m a race car driver.
Have you ever driven in the Indy 500?
Yes I have.
Did you ever win it?
Yes I did.
More than once?
Best story I’ve ever heard!
Sr was such a great driver. Quiet and methodical always tenacious and thinking how to get more out of the car. I was 5yrs old when he won Indy 1970. I got a Johnny Lightning lunch box and took it to school everyday as a first grader. I still have it!!!
Godspeed to one of the best ever!!!!!
Kris, Al Unser Jr said it was the Johnny Lightning car that convinced him he wanted to be a race car driver. To stand beside it puts a lump in my throat.
That’s terrific! I loved watching him race also. Yes that Johnny Lightning car is super cool!! I was at Indy Speedway Museum and saw the Johnny Lightning car there. I suppose it’s a back up car? Or a reproduction if the original is with you. You definitely have a dream job. I enjoy your articles but never really comment until now! I finally had something to contribute!! Take care and look forward to your next article!!
Wonderful article Gary!!!! We need to get over and see that museum! I love race cars!