Color can tell you so many things in life. Wearing a certain color on any given day can tell people the mood you may be in that day. There are even color personality tests that tell what kind of person you are or how you feel at the time you take it and it's even a proven science. The color red, for instance, can indicate that you are feeling assertive, powerful or passionate. My favorite colors, pink and blue, indicate an understanding, calming, feminine, hopeful nature along with inner peace, communicative ability, persistence, and determination. Pretty much sums me up rather well. There is a negative and positive side to all colors. Color meaning has a dual nature, good and bad. If I knew what color represented someone who can't get her stuff together most days, or for someone who can't seem to locate where she put her brain at least three times a day, I'd be that color too. I ask myself most days, "What in the world Carolyn?" but I should probably be saying this is definitely a yellow day, or purple day, or whatever color could represent my insanity for that day.
Color with it's dual nature, in racing, represents a fine line you can walk. Pushing the limits but walking within those fine lines as to get an advantage on the race track. It's what everyone in racing calls, "The Grey Area". In the rule books at most tracks around the country there are rules for every single detail of a race car. Some people will read the rule book and go specifically by what they see, but then there are the ones who will study page after page of a rule book in detail and begin to see the grey areas of the rules or as some people might call them, loopholes. They will begin to formulate a plan to use this to their advantage and push the limits as much as they can to get even the tiniest edge over their competition. Is it cheating or is it right? Well, the main consensus is that it's not, but there are a few that believe following the rules by the letter are the only way you should be going.
How far can you push a loophole? How far are you willing to go? Is someone cheating if they beat you in a race using the grey area? I had a very long, in depth conversation yesterday with a group about exploiting the loopholes to their advantage. They are accused of cheating on a weekly basis but have one thing to say and that is that all they've done is their homework. They have found the grey areas and have used them to their advantage. I believe the words were "I came to win, if I didn't want to win why in the world would I be here. If I find an advantage I'm going to take it. Other people shouldn't get mad when they can do the exact same thing. I like to push the envelope because that's just who I am.". My question was at what point is it considered cheating? The response was that it wasn't. You technically aren't breaking a rule but you aren't exactly going to letter either.
Another question I had was if there are all these areas you can push the limits in isn't this costing you more money to do so and creating an uneven playing field on the track? Does this drive up the costs in racing because the next driver finds that grey area too and spends even more money to outdo the last one until it becomes nothing more than a money game? Are we ruining ourselves for an advantage? Who is at fault? Driver or track? Mostly from the car owner and driver perspective, it is the track's fault for not closing in those loopholes and adding more and more rules. From the track's view I believe they only make more and more rules because for the interest of all their drivers they want to create a level playing field. The more the driver pushes the limit and just puts everyone in the dust at the track, the more the track must add a rule to make it fair for everyone involved until you have more rules than you need.
So, what is a solution to the problem I ask? The answer I got wasn't to add more rules but to simplify the ones you have. Limit the carburetor, intake, suspension, wheels and tires and you can virtually get rid of almost every loophole there is. The track can make the rules on these 5 components of a car black and white and it could possibly take the money aspect out of racing entirely. I was sent in the direction by a chassis builder to one of my absolute favorite tracks, East Alabama Motor Speedway. As I pull up their rules page I click on EAMS Late Model rules and was surprised by the fact that the rules for their late models is about a page long. That's it! One page! East Alabama is also known as one of the most no-nonsense tracks around. You have a violation and you're gone. You can go to a race, like say the state race there, and pull into pre-tech and claim what's on your car. The tech man may give you a weight penalty for something of no real importance but to be fair to all other drivers he has to. You first must make a claim as to what's on your car but if you come through there and don't claim what's on your car, and it's found after the race, you can be sent home without your finishing position. It's all about fairness. They are extremely strict on rules and you can see how the simplifying of their rules creates an even field. You will have crates running with built motors side by side with no real advantage of one over the other.
Instead of creating more rules, you do the exact opposite and make less. There will always be that guy who will still try to push the envelope with the simplified form of the rules but this will severely limit what he could do. Money can create the most unfair of advantages in racing. Some drivers can't afford to spend enormous amounts of money racing and it kind of, as my grandma says, "gripes my soul" when money has become the issue with racing instead of raw talent. Those grey areas are costing tons of money in racing. The need to close these areas in is imperative. You can reduce a lot of headache and stress by doing this. The less argument there is at the tech shed the less there can be said on social media, the less feelings that get hurt for being accused of cheating, and the happier everyone will be when they leave the track that night.
So, is it cheating to push the limit in this area in my opinion? Not really. If it isn't crossing that line into breaking an actual rule then it really isn't cheating but then again nor do I feel it's exactly right not to follow the rules to a T. It is a blend of the yin and yang of racing. It is where the right and the wrong collide. Most of us walk this grey area in our lives every day. Speaking from experience I do on a daily basis. It's always about how far you are willing to push to get what you want. Most drivers I know never really want to cross into the wrong side of things but it may happen from time to time and it's all about that will to win and succeed at any cost. I haven't met a saint at the race track yet, these are considered unicorns in my book because they simply don't exist. They all walk that line of doing the right thing but mixing just a tinge of the wrong in with it. This is not a perfect sport and these are not perfect people. I think it just shows will and determination by pushing the envelope to get what you want but I'm a push the envelope kind of girl. To succeed in life you sometimes have to find those grey areas and exploit them. Its a dog eat dog world and to get a win most of these guys can make you look like a Chihuahua in a yard of pit bulls. To make it in racing you better start doing your homework because this exam will either make you the top dog or the junkyard dog. You better determine which one you want to be because class is in session and failing isn't an option.