The Inheritance

Any racer who has children has enjoyed moments when they basked in the glory of having done well on the track as his or her kids watched. Anytime a racer overhears his own children telling their friends, “Wow, you should have seen my dad …,” the definitions of “satisfaction” or “self esteem” in the dictionary seem to require some modification because they are simply not enough to express how good we feel.

However, the real satisfaction is getting to see the excitement on your child’s face after he or she achieves a measure of success. My father wasn’t a racecar driver, but I grew up inheriting his excitement as we watched races together on TV back in the early 1960s. Needless to say, those were special times. Even more overwhelming was getting to see the excitement on my father’s face after he heard how well I had done on the track. That’s a visual that will last me a lifetime.

There may come a day when your youngster slides in behind the wheel. It might just be a go-kart, but even so, we try to do everything in our power to get them started in a way that will net them the best results. We get them the best equipment, the best coaching, and nonstop advice based on our own experiences. NASA helps those dreams become a reality.

We find ourselves watching them making moves that are taking them to the front, and find it almost impossible to contain our excitement and pride. Then it happens. They stand on the podium holding up their trophy high above their head and you realize it has all been worth it.

Eventually there comes a time when the youngster hangs the go-kart up, and you realize he or she isn’t just offering to lend a hand with your car because they want to be helpful. They want to be in that driver’s seat. That’s when you begin to wonder about so many possibilities, and before you realize what has happened, you find yourself giving them last-minute advice as they pull out of the pits. As they pull onto the track, you are left standing much the same way as you did when they took those first laps at the kart track. It seems as if it were just yesterday and once again you feel that familiar nervousness deep down in your gut that you did back then.

I remember so well the pride I felt when the banter began, “Dad, you better watch out or I’ll be forced to punt you out of my way.” And my reply was, “Listen kid, just remember, I taught you a lot, but I didn’t teach you everything.” The real satisfaction came when it sunk in that it was me who had better get out of the way because the youngster had in fact found a few moves of his own and was now the teacher.

As children, we have dreams of not being just a racecar driver but being one of the best. That is a desire that never leaves us regardless of how old we are. As parents, we become so proud as we watch our children doing well out on track. But there comes a day when we laugh as we find ourselves wanting to go out there and see the look in their eyes as we kick their ass and pass them just one more time. Then we wake up and realize they have inherited the same competitive drive and passion to excel out on the track that we inherited from our fathers.

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