Not long ago, I asked a question on Facebook as to whether or not the size of a driver's hauler or how fancy his graphics on his car were had anything to do with how good a driver they will be. As I stated in one of my comments, I use the hauler as a representation of money and is it possible for a lot of knowledge and a little money to beat a lot of money with a little knowledge? Tons of comments came through and most were all the same mindset. I also asked myself if the money factor is intimidating for the guys with less money. Do they think they're already at a disadvantage because they don't have the money and equipment the other guy may have?
So, many questions but I think the mind of a racer is a truly wonderful, complicated thing (fairly close to the mind of a woman) and asking drivers questions on any topic is truly an experience I enjoy. I always get varied opinions, no one ever gets upset and it always feels like grown, intelligent conversation, most of the time. The question of money and knowledge has plagued me for a very long time after going from track after track and seeing every kind of driver there was. Big haulers, small haulers, open trailers, fancy wraps, no wraps, to duct tape numbers. Money and barely enough money for rent to drivers with more knowledge in one finger down to drivers you just have to question how they even walk and talk much less drive a race car.
Which is it though? What is truly the key to success in racing? It's elusive for many and then there's a few that have it figured out but even they can only have success sporadically. I know that I've seen many drivers with some of the nicest haulers out there get their rear ends handed to them by the guy with duct tape numbers or less than nice haulers but in the same breathe I know that I've seen the same haulers and wraps pull up and wax a field of drivers easily. If you took Bloomquist away from the fancy rig and nice shop and sat him back to the beginning, to the basics, with limited equipment but with the vast knowledge he has, would he be successful? Is it a money game to win races? Racing is a thinking man's sport. Like a chess game. Every piece must be properly placed to be the victor in the end.
The thing with the nice haulers and wraps is that they can buy nice equipment. It may not get you the victory but it will at least give you a better chance at getting close to the victory. It's always easier to win with nicer, more expensive equipment but isn't always a guarantee. Money can buy a lot of things, but with it, it can't buy knowledge. That's the one thing that must be learned. I don't care how much someone is paid to work on a car for a driver, if they aren't learning themselves then when the help leaves them they're pretty much left in the dark again. If they rely on the money in that situation to get them the wins and put forth no effort to learn then they really aren't doing themselves any favors. Knowledge in racing takes time and hours in the shop and at the track. Money can't buy that.
I also wondered if it was an intimidation factor when a bigger hauler pulls up like I said earlier. I had a response from a driver who said it was something more along the lines of knowing you have to up your game when they come through because you know they probably carry the slight advantage with nicer equipment but it only makes you a better driver that night because you have to be twice as good. It also makes the night that much sweeter when you beat them to the checkered flag. I have seen some guys with those same nice haulers be unjustly seen as arrogant, cocky, or that they'll just buy the win which isn't fair to anyone. Some of the nicest, most humble people I've ever met have some of the nicest rigs you'll ever see and you'd never know they had as nice stuff as they do and they bust tail on and off the track for everything in racing they get. It would be an unfair judgement for anyone to make about someone just because they have nice things just like it's unfair to look down on those who aren't as fortunate as others.
The knowledge part is what I think makes for the best and most successful drivers. I did an interview with Russell Brown Sr. a while back and we were talking about back in the day when you just used the parts you had on hand to race with and only the brain in your head. If you knew what you were doing you were going to be successful even with limited equipment. I know it's seeming more and more like a money game now in racing but I'm telling you, that guy or girl racer out there who knows how to make a car work, who knows what the track is telling them, who knows how to set up a car can just about outrun money any day of the week. Let those drivers get the money advantage also and they could be the most dominant force on the track. Spending the time to actually learn the sport will never be taught by money. It's experience and even that doesn't come cheap. The cost of knowledge and experience is far higher than one would imagine. It costs time away from family and friends, it costs relationships, it costs eating ramen noodles for new tires. No, it really doesn't come easy or cheap.
Basically, and it's only my opinion, there's a holy trinity in racing for a driver and it includes money, knowledge and talent. All three put together can create a dominant force that can takeover any track they go to. The problem is that you seem to mostly get two of these but not the third. You can have a knowledgeable, talented driver who doesn't have the money factor and will be semi successful or someone with money, no knowledge, and tons of talent and then there's those with money, knowledge, but no real talent as a driver. I think it's always a combination of two but almost always missing the third. There was a video on Facebook once about this guy talking about women in scientific terms yet being completely funny and calling that elusive woman every man wants a unicorn. Well, in the racing world, a driver with all three attributes is what I would like to call a "unicorn". You can't find many out there, oh they're somewhere roaming the tracks around the country but you don't see them a lot. Whatever the key to racing success is, I continue to want answers about it. I want to know how, in this chess match, one becomes the top of the game. Maybe in the end it comes down to the one thing my friend Lance Floyd said it was. Just luck. Pure and simple luck. Maybe that's the reason for so many superstitious people in racing. Who knows? A four leaf clover never hurt anyone. See you all at a track soon!