Where Are You Headed This Year?

I’ve realized straight roads do not make skillful drivers. Difficult roads often lead to awesome destinations and accomplishments. Sir Edmund Hillary knew before he attempted his climb to the top of Mount Everest that there was no straight path, and yet he persevered. He continued in his course of action, even in the face of great difficulty, knowing there would always be the prospect of little or no success.

My point is that if you really want to be a better driver, don’t listen to that little man sitting on your left shoulder telling you, “You aren’t that good.” Rather, listen to that little man on your other shoulder who’s telling you, “You can do this! Don’t give up!”

There’s a reason that other shoulder is called the “right” one. It’s because he’s always right. This new year, let that little dude on your right shoulder instill the confidence great drivers alike, listen to. Confidence is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. If you must ask yourself why that’s important to a racecar driver, you might want to start considering croquet or pickleball.

Why not get started mapping out this year’s racing goals and a schedule? Setting goals is important if you wish to excel in racing. Michelangelo once said, “The great danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”

There are no benefits whatsoever from playing small and setting your aim too low. Set goals and “commit” to reaching them. Write it down and tape it somewhere visible inside your car trailer, or even inside the cockpit of your racecar.

Equally important is sitting down and actually mapping out a schedule for the upcoming year. Grab some paper and a pencil, sit down in front of the computer, bring up the NASA website and pick the events you want to attend. Picking and choosing various weekends at various tracks can be eye-opening. Hey, you might even consider doing a weekend at some track you’ve never been to. Take the family and make a nice holiday out of it.

Why procrastinate when building a sound war plan will help in many ways. Car prep, scheduling time off from work — good employees always keep their employers advised well in advance — calculating expenses and a budgeting. Don’t attend races just because it sounds cool, especially if it’s not within the budget. The bottom line is, mapping out a schedule is one of the most important things any worthy racer can do. Make racing fun and worthwhile. Let it be something that builds your self-esteem, and not something that causes you grief.

For as long as I have been racing, it never ceases to amaze me how many spend money they should have kept. Any racer worth his salt knows racing always has a way of doubling your estimated budget. That said, you just must be smart and plan for “what if.” After all, you know it’s going to happen. Intelligent racing involves being a good businessman with a sharp pencil, an eye for opportunity — there’s lots of great deals out there if you’re looking for them — and self-control.

Trust me, you’re probably not on your way to Monaco, Indianapolis or Le Mans, so learn to live/race/drive within your means. It’s not that hard to say, “Not this year. Another time perhaps.” Accept the fact that racing with NASA is a truly wonderful part of yours and your loved one’s lives. Make this a truly happy NASA new year.

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