The Endless Quest

The car is once again on jack stands and the whiteboard is full of tasks to be completed before the next event. The work never ends, and that might be what makes racing so engaging, or so frustrating. Or both.

There is more weight to be removed if I can find anything else to take off, brakes to bleed and new suspension components to be installed. That means I’ll have to take it to the alignment shop to get the biggest benefit from the new parts, and I’d sure like to get back to the dyno to see if I can get any more power out of the engine.

No doubt your whiteboard and schedule for the coming month probably look similar. They might even be more crowded with tasks and appointments.

All those tasks come in addition to the needs of our spouses and families. They come regardless of ballet recitals or soccer camp. They come in addition to deadlines and projects at work, and they come regardless of vacation plans or anything else that might come up. Those tasks can keep us from doing other things, so often in fact, people might wonder why we do what we do.

For as little sense as it makes on paper, racing is engaging because nothing in this world makes you feel like you do when you race. Screaming along in a fast, sweeping turn, pulling a lateral g at 6,500 rpm as one of your competitors tries to pass on the outside makes you feel like a Marvel Comics superhero. That’s why we do it, and until someone has experienced that feeling for themselves, it can be difficult to explain to others. But they’ll see it in your eyes, in the way you gesture and, of course, by the silly grin on your face.

It’s so engaging because there is always something new to learn, and that might even be the greater fascination. Whether it’s a slight tweak to a line you’ve been driving for years, learning of a new piece of equipment that solves an old problem or having those moments of clarity that come from thinking hard about something, then not thinking about it at all, racing is an endless quest.

It’s frustrating at times, too, and it can stem from a mechanical failure or the driver running out of talent. But those are still opportunities for learning, if we choose to look at them that way. We all try to do that, I think, but it’s never easy. Then again, if it were easy, anyone could do it, and it would not be as much fun.

Racing is a lifelong dream for a lot of NASA members, and we’re fortunate to be able to do it. I could go on, but the UPS man dropped off a package today. That means it’s time to leave the keyboard and head to the garage, where the endless quest will resume. Race time will be here before you know it.

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