Racing and Politics

I hope everyone had a chance to watch the presidential debates. I thought it was similar to watching a great endurance race. There were lead changes, off-track excursions, side-by-side late braking, accusations of cheating, and neither person believes what the other one is saying. So who got to stand on the top of the podium?

That answer depends on whom you ask. Many people will side with their candidate regardless of the debate. Both parties claim the other is lying. The accusation alone alleges someone is “cheating,” as we like to claim in racing vernacular. Where is the rulebook and who is left to enforce it? It appears to me that we are left with a modern creation of the media, which is commonly the conduit of information, and they have become the referee telling us who said what and whether it is accurate.

Auto racing is pure. It rewards precision, mechanics, finesse, stamina, self-control. The car doesn’t care how much you want to win. All that matters is how you apply the mechanics. The proof comes when you turn the fastest lap time, when you were most relaxed, when you weren’t even trying.

Politics have no place in racing. It seems so simple and yet the racing business is filled with politics. We see this often when body contact reports are submitted and both parties truly feel that the other person did them wrong.

We all know that 99 percent of the time somebody bears a higher burden of fault. If that is the case, and this sport is so pure, then why doesn’t everyone apologize for their error and take responsibility? As a race director, I can tell you that resolving incidents and issuing penalties always leaves someone unhappy. If we remove the emotion and ask to have a situation whereby a referee can adjudicate conflict with a clear set of rules, then how does one party go away unhappy? Simple politics. One person wants to gain an advantage over the other.

NASA holds an operating principle to strip as much politics from racing as possible. With only three owners, we are fortunate we can make decisions without a great degree of politics. The regions are set up and run by businesspeople so they can make decisions they feel will satisfy the most customers. Perhaps capitalism is the best political gauge. Our customers get to vote each and every event whether they like our business model. If a customer doesn’t like our methodology, they don’t support our venture and it affects profitability to the point of success or failure.

Politics are generally divisive, and the population will be divided based on the outcome of this election. Some will be pleased. Others won’t. NASA, on the other hand, wants all our customers to be happy, and we work hard to accomplish that goal. Auto racing is pure and capitalism works to favor the customer. We keep politics to a minimum so the greatest number of people can have a great experience at the track. Politics bring controversy because someone wants to gain an unfair advantage, which should have no place in grassroots racing. I ask for your vote to help keep politics to a minimum by focusing on the fun and the purity of the sport.

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