Anyone who would tell you that racing on a road course isn’t an exciting ego boost is lying. Not only is it ego boosting, but also it’s also good for one’s self-esteem. A lot of this conditioning developed from reading about or watching races when we were young. There was no way we could not wish that someday we too would be sitting behind that wheel, racing at speed, door to door with other fast and cool-sounding racecars, not to mention getting a big hug from the trophy gals at the end of the race.
There’s a lot involved in being a racecar driver: the cost of the car, learning to drive and get fast, learning how to set it up, innovate, improvise, build, and realizing it’s damned addictive. But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, deep down inside there is nothing more rewarding — or cooler — than telling someone, “Yeah, I race cars.”
One thing I also have learned to appreciate about racing is how much our friends, family, customers and others share the same excitement and gratification for what we do. I love hearing a friend or co-worker say, “I’m going to watch my buddy race this weekend. It’s going to be exciting as hell.” I have long enjoyed knowing that something I have found great pleasure, pride and fulfillment in doing also gives others that same sense of excitement.
One such person, who was possibly my biggest fan, was my brother, Robert. Several times over the years, he would come down from Oregon for a couple weeks so he could spend time at the track with me. I can’t begin to add up the number of times I heard him brag about his little brother and my son, the cool racecars and all the play-by-play stories as he described while waving his hands around, raising his voice and opening his eyes real wide to add more excitement and drama. It always made me smile, and at times the stories were so exciting that I had to remind myself that he was talking about me. Moments like this just add more self-esteem and ego to the realization that regardless of whether we are a grassroots racer, a national champion or even professional driver, others benefit from the dreams we live and the best part of all is, we are indeed racecar drivers. We will never lose the satisfaction of saying so.
Thanks to NASA, I have an entire treasure of memories because of my involvement in racing, none of which I will ever lose. Sadly, I recently lost my brother. The comfort I feel when remembering his love of racing and being involved with my racing team, my family and me, is nothing short of overwhelming. But I will always remember his voice each time he called and asked, “So, when’s your next race?” I will miss those calls.
This is the reason that from now on, each time I am at the track, I will be more cognizant of those at the track who aren’t driving the racecar, meaning families, friends and others. I intend to spend more time visiting with them to ask them how they are enjoying themselves, and what they like most about their experiences at the track. After all, what good are a cool-sounding fast racecar, a trophy, let alone an entire weekend at the track, if we don’t have someone to share it with?