The Call of the Wild

The other day while I was visiting an old racing buddy, we reminisced and swapped racing stories from days gone by. He began to tell me how much he missed racing, and I could hear the longing in his voice. He spoke of how cars had changed over the years, and being the responsible family man he is, how the probability of building and owning a car was no longer in the pocketbook. However, what I heard in his voice most of all was how he missed being part of all that racing is and was for him. It reminded me of a quote from Jack London’s “Call of the Wild.”

“Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest.”

Having raced with my friend for many years, I knew he had so much to offer, and it seemed a shame to allow him to fade away from it all. It was then I realized how much any new team could benefit from his experience and knowledge. Not only could he help them get faster, but in doing so, make it more fun and save them money.

For my buddy and someone just entering the world of racing, which at times can be nothing short of overwhelming, this could be the perfect match, one from which both sides could benefit. I thought how awesome it could be for a diehard racer to once again feel a sense of belonging and getting to apply his passion once again, not to mention the opportunity to hand down his skill, knowledge and love for the sport. I am reminded of the apprentice carpenters who stood in the shadow of the old-school Victorian carpenters as they watched and learned a trade that they too would hand down to others someday.

I remember major endurance races when my friend became a member of my team, and even though I had years of experience, I always stood in awe of how much he brought to the team. He seemed to be able to make decisions others never would have thought of doing, and as a result, our entire racing experience became far richer — and typically placed us high on the podium after the checkered flag was waved.

He had tools in his head that would make you think he was tapped into an aerospace computer that allowed him to make calculations in a heartbeat, which otherwise would have taken others days to figure out. For anyone like him to simply fade away, as if being put out to pasture, is simply not acceptable and would result in a terrible waste of passion for this wonderful sport.

My advice to any new team or individual just getting started would be to make an effort to find such an individual. And what could be better for someone than to have a member on their team who knows the racing lines, appropriate car setup and changes, how to save money and improve lap times and so much more?

That’s exactly what big-time racing teams do. You would be getting an engineer, a crew chief and the best part of all, it’s free. You may be surprised to learn just how many guys there are who miss being at the track as my friend does, and the same goes for those old timers who may be surprised how many beginners would love to have them on their team. Think of it as a match-making service where souls go to find what they need — and sometimes find a match made in heaven.

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