Looking back, I feel it was my assiduous attention to detail that helped me find my way to the podium at famous tracks like Laguna Seca, Infineon, and others. Now I’m 72, and it’s that same attention to detail that made so much possible on the track. The rush that I once felt has been instilled within me and keeps me feeling young with lingering and vivid memories of racing door-to-door, at speed with others I respected, and trusted. One thing I have learned is any athlete who has worked hard enough to become proficient in his or her designated sport, never loses the desire to be competitive.
Now I live in Santa Fe, the crown jewel of New Mexico. As much as I love it here, I must say I really do miss the regular visits to tracks to test and race.
I find myself missing the late nights spent working on the racecars, getting them prepared, while visions of a podium finish danced in my head. It was these visions that fueled enough adrenaline to overcome what would’ve normally been a feeling of tiredness. Late nights spent working on racecars somehow makes all other concerns disappear, and the upcoming race was all that mattered. After years of watching other successful racers and teams, I developed a proclivity to emulate them, all of which paid dividends.
Recently a friend from Stanford, and his wife who are now retired and living in Sedona, Arizona, spent a few days with us. They also live in a gated golf community like ours and they have spent a lifetime traveling and golfing. During one of our mornings walks, I asked him what he enjoyed most about golf. He told me that after years of driving golf balls down range on many world class golf courses, and constantly striving to improve his game, he has realized what he enjoys most are the friendships he’s made, and the time he’s spent with those friends. In fact, many of those friendships have led to many other activities together, like tennis, bocce ball, social engagements and much more.
This conversation led me to realize how much our involvement in each sport were, in fact, so very similar. The friends I have made during my years of racing have created some of the most meaningful friendships I’ve ever known, some of which have developed into life-long friendships. I’ve learned there’s so much more than just racing cars when being involved in motorsports. I find myself terribly missing those familiar voices of competitors, their crews, their families, safety crew members, corner workers, spectators, instructors, and NASA members alike. There isn’t enough gold buried in the ground to replace the camaraderie, laughter, and excitement found among them and I am haunted by their absence, and feel they’re all equally as important as any racecar.
How I miss pulling into the paddock and seeing familiar faces come walking up, “Hey, how ya’ doing? Where ya’ go ing to pit? There’s a spot next to our trailer. Back her in there and we’ll help ya’ set up. There are some cold ones waiting for us in the cooler.”
I’ve always been able to chuckle, remembering some of the drivers I raced with for years started out as what seemed like mortal enemies, someone I’d love to punt off the track, yet somehow after a hard-fought battle, we would be in the pits reliving the entire race, laughing, and preparing to open a can of whoop-ass for the next race.
I just want to tell all of you NASA members, I might not be at the track, but in my mind, I’m in the pits with you every day.