Keeping My Day Job

In my youth, my favorite concerts were always Grateful Dead shows. I never followed the band around in a VW van — because I was gainfully employed — but I saw them more often than any other band. There was nothing quite like a Dead concert, as the saying goes, and on a couple of occasions when I was in the audience they broke out one of their little-known songs called, “Keep Your Day Job.”

I was reminded of that tune when I was thinking about some of the picks I made for who would win the Eastern and Western States Championships. Why? Well, now that the events have taken place and the races run, it has been empirically proven that my efforts at picking winners were abysmal. I shouldn’t quit my day job to become an odds maker in Vegas.

So how poorly did I do? Of the total of 23 classes at each event, I got 15 out of 46 picks right, or just more than 30 percent. The old adage is that two out of three ain’t bad. If that’s true, then one out of three, well, is most assuredly bad.

Now, as a racer, I have a few excuses I’d like to mention. First, I would have made different picks had some of the eventual Champions signed up sooner. Because they weren’t signed up when I made my prognostications, I couldn’t really count on them to take the wins, because at the time, it didn’t look like they’d be there.

Second, I missed a few classes by only a place or two. In some cases, the winner I had picked was still on the podium, but just not on the top step. Close might work for horseshoes and hand grenades, but not gambling. You’re either right or you’re wrong, and in 29 cases out of 46, I was wrong.

Third, at least one of my picks got collected in a crash while leading their class late in a race, and there might been a couple more I have forgotten. So that’s almost like I got it right. Almost. There, I’m done with excuses.

I made sure to mention throughout this whole process that it was all just for fun. I ran into a few people at the Eastern and Western States Championships who gave me a good ribbing for some of my picks, and that was fine by me. It means people are reading, and that is what my day job is all about.

Of course, by the time summer rolls around next year, I’ll have forgotten all about how wrong I was and the shame in getting the picks so, so wrong. And I’ll fire up the prognostication machine all over again in hopes that I’ll at least break 50 percent. That, to me, would be success.

I’m going to have to take a few people down this perilous path with me. Maybe since the Eastern States Championships will be held at Sebring International Raceway, I’ll ask NASA Florida Regional Director James Vander Vliet to try his hand at picking winners. The same goes for the Western States Championships at Thunderhill Raceway. Maybe NASA head honcho Jerry Kunzman can weigh in on who he thinks will win.

For that matter, if any NASA members would like to work with me and take a stab at picking winners, you’re welcome to join in the fun, too. Shoot me an email to try your hand at it.

I’ll be spending the winter nursing my wounds from this whole episode, and trying to figure out what went wrong. At the same time I’ll be planning out all the stories and features we’ll be doing in the 2017 issues of Speed News. You know, day job stuff.

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