Friday, August 1, 2014
The Sacrifices of Racing
I know I've asked before if you're giving to racing what it's giving to you. This article follows in with that in talking about sacrifice in racing. When I ask if you're giving to racing, what I mean is are you actually sacrificing anything to live this dream? Racing can be a dream or a nightmare depending on whether your car ends up on the rollback or loads into the hauler at the end of the night. The racing life isn't for everyone and being a race car driver isn't for everyone. Besides taking talent in the driving aspect, it takes a multitude of sacrifices on the driver's part and to be a part of the racing life requires it's own sacrifice. It costs something to be a part of racing in any form but the degree to which you pay differs from one to the other.
On this side of the coin, the media and series ownership side, it has taken and still takes payment from me. Racing has needed my time away from family and friends and some times time from myself. It has required me to lose whatever parts of my sanity I had left. Racing has required long nights on little sleep only to wake up and head to the next race track the next day. Sacrificing days of answering phone calls with upset drivers and tempers flaring when all you really want to do is not have someone angry at you for one day. It will ask you to sacrifice a certain part of yourself that you won't realize you've given up until after the fact. That part of you that used to be the quiet, well rested, even tempered person of days gone by will be gone and in it's place will be a stronger, louder, more assertive human being. Ask me who I was 10 years ago and I'll tell you I wasn't who I am today. The part of myself I have sacrificed for racing has made me the self assured, strong willed, sleep deprived, happy mess I am today. I gave up part of myself to gain a truer sense of who I am. The racing life has made me stronger willed, more determined, and a happier person even with all the complexities it brings. Ask me if the sacrifice of the old me was worth it and I'll tell you every time that it was and I wouldn't change anything about it.
Racing is worth it for me. It's worth the long hours, the tempers, the parts of my sanity that are long gone. I gained a new me. Racing still requires me to yield parts of my life but I gladly and willingly do it. It doesn't ask for the sacrifice without returning on it every time. I've gained friends, a sense of purpose, and a life that fulfills me every day. You see people at the races every week who are giving up parts of their lives for racing. Track promoters and owners part with money from their own pockets, their mental states, and their family time to do what they do. Why you may ask? Just because they love racing. They live for it. What they are giving up for this life is in actuality giving them something in return. It's always a balance with racing life. You sacrifice one end to gain in another. For those of us who are still here, we believe it is always worth it. Nothing can come close to the rewards racing returns to us.
For the drivers I can see the sacrifice week in and week out. I know quite a few drivers and a few in particular I know work 14 hour days at work only to go straight to the shop to work the rest of the night away preparing for the race that weekend. I've seen the time away from families and marriages end in break ups and divorces but with a life in racing it can happen from time to time. Mostly the significant other didn't want to see what kind of time and effort it would take for racing or might have thought it would change once the relationship status changed but it never does. Racing is in the blood. It's in the lungs. It's in the heart. Anyone who wants to be a part of a racer's life must accept they have to share this part of his life or you will eventually be one of the things that will be surrendered to racing.
A racer will give his own blood for the sport if necessary. He will bare knuckles and go toe to toe with the biggest and baddest for what he loves. He or she knows it may end up with a broken nose or finger but guess what? It's worth it for them. They gave up time and money to do what they love and a few broken bones would be worth it. I don't condone violence at the track in any way I am just saying they are willing to sacrifice flesh and bone if necessary. Some drivers will give up every last dime they have to put into their racing. Giving up nights of eating an actual meal and instead a pack of ramen noodles because new shocks were needed or new clothes because the old ones are just fine and a new transmission had to be bought. There will be school plays and soccer games that will be missed but it will bring family time at the race track with dirty little faces from playing in the dirt or daughters getting to eye that cute driver they've had a crush on all the while spending time with mommy and daddy.
A driver will spend long nights without much sleep working in the shop or hauling the car to the track and back. He's willing to pay the price. I can never tell you for certain what each and every driver is getting for his sacrifice but it's always something because they wouldn't come back each week if there wasn't something they get from it. I am not for fighting but I can understand where the anger could come from. You gave up a whole lot for this and it's worth going down for. I get it. I would go to great lengths for what I love and go down swinging if need be too. When you go to the track you should realize that these drivers have given so much to be here. Whether you like them or not they have given a part of themselves to that car, that life, and that kind of sacrifice should be respected and admired. I do admire the men and women of racing on both sides of it because I know what it takes to keep going in this. The guy in the shop tonight working till his fingers bleed and racing tomorrow until his body is sore and his wallet is empty should know the blood, the soreness, the money spent has earned admiration, humbleness, and respect from all of us. You sacrifice for what you love and have given up so much but you get our gratitude for doing it and a humble thank you for driving this sport.
No one truly knows what one is willing to give up for what they love doing until the time comes to pay. I think it is completely worth every sleepless night, every temper flare, every drop of sweat I give to racing. I would not have it any other way. I know every one in racing would agree to the same thing. You wouldn't be here if you didn't. Do not judge a man by what he is willing to give up for racing. You don't know what he's had to do to get there. The long road he's been down or how impossible his odds have been. That driver or owner or promoter gave up part of his life to bring you a night at the races for you to come watch. Whether it was a significant other, his money, his time with family, we are not to judge. They are the only ones who can truly understand and it is not meant for the rest of us to. I happen to be an avid reader and I love an author who's a mad drunk because they are often the most honest with the most realistic outlooks on life. One of my favorites is Charles Bukowski. A well known drunken author like a Hemmingway type but he had the most wonderful way with words and he also has one of my favorite quotes of all time. It perfectly sums up a racing life for me even though he wasn't speaking on it. The similarity is uncanny.
It is my hope you read it and truly understand. His quote was "If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery-- isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is." Absolutely it speaks for racing. Racing and sacrifice. They go hand in hand, but they are truly, truly worth fighting the good fight for.