When you choose to join NASA and participate in our events, you also gain access to something special. It’s obvious to anyone who has ever attended, although you won’t see a specific mention of it on any website or in any published list of member benefits.
You see, I think of NASA as much more than just a provider of fun weekends. I like to think of us as a collection of like-minded enthusiasts, any one — or 100 — of whom I can get along famously with, because of the common threads between us. As I have been known to tell new participants over the years, “Come to the track with us and have a blast with 400 of your best friends — even though you haven’t met the other 399 of them yet.” We have heard about it and each experienced it many times: the bonds that are formed among participants at NASA events can last a lifetime.
But beyond all the strong friendships formed by a mutual love for fast fun, I kind of think of us, collectively, as a family. And why wouldn’t we be, after spending so many weekends a year together doing something as enjoyable — also difficult, complicated, expensive, and time consuming — as this? Any form of racing is by nature an exciting, passionate, and sometimes very emotional activity. So, it’s no surprise that bonds regularly go beyond the level of friendship, to the level of often hilarious storytelling that can only take place among those who truly are, in the words of NASA Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Chris Cobetto, “Brothers and sisters in speed.”
Now, as a longtime official, I pride myself on dedication and hard work, literally on a daily basis. In addition to being regularly available by email or phone for 12-plus hours a day 7 days a week, it is not uncommon for me to reply to emails via tablet from bed at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday, or answer my phone from bed at midnight the night before an event. Admittedly some of this is so I have one less thing to do later, but mostly it’s because I want to make sure everyone’s questions get answered and problems get handled as quickly and effectively as possible. I bring this up is because it occurs for the same reason I will accept a call or text from my little sister at any hour of the day: to help my family in any way I can. Want to change your car number for the upcoming Hyperdrive? No problem, sir. Need me to go walk your dog because you’re stuck at work? Also no problem, sis!
You also may have noticed that NASA is a national organization offering many events a year at just about every great road course you can think of. This is another one of the greatest, yet rarely mentioned, benefits of being in our family. You know that when vacation adventure time rolls around, you can set your truck’s GPS for a track a thousand miles from home and still have an absolute blast, because the people you’ll meet there are just as great as those in your home region. And soon enough, they will be part of your family too, and you will be part of theirs.
Best of all, you never know when this will all pay off later. Perhaps the guy paddocked next to you last weekend who brought you a hot burger after you took him a cold beer will be the same guy who can provide the one “unobtainium” part or tool you desperately need to get back on track before your final race or Time Trial session at the Eastern or Western Championship events this fall? That is a great, and truly rare, quality among individuals in any group. As silly as it may sound to those who are unfamiliar, our motto really should be “Come for the fun, stay for the people.”