Sunday, August 12, 2012

Racing Is Life

Chances are, if you are reading this, then you are a fan of racing. If not, maybe I can try to explain why racing means so much to me and others around the world. Racing is much more than "a bunch of cars racing in circles". In fact, if that's all that you think racing is, then I have brick right here nex...... No, not today. I will not threaten anybody with bricks this time. Let me try to explain what racing means to many people around the world.

Racing is about watching people make their dreams come true. All Dan Wheldon wanted to do was win the Indianapolis 500, and wouldn't you believe it, he did it twice. The pure emotion that we saw was fantastic to see, and left many with a wide smile. A goal was accomplished, a dream came true, and you couldn't help but feel elated for him.


Alex Zanardi is truly a racing hero, and he embodies the true spirit and tenacity of a racing driver. After a terrible accident which resulted in an amputation of both of his legs, his life and his racing career was in serious jeopardy. But with courage, determination, and an unprecedented work ethic, Zanardi defied all odds and raced again. And to see the pure ecstasy on his face when he started competing in the World Touring Car Championship in 2003, just two years after his horrible accident, was enough to inspire anyone.

And how could you not be happy after watching Sportcenter's "Make A Wish" segment, where Johnny, a young boy that was born with a lung disorder, got to see his wish come true when he gets to meet his childhood hero, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon. If you don't feel something in your chest after watching this, you might want to go to a doctor:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xg5qNwjzaqY

I asked not just one of my favorite drivers, but an all around stand up guy who is one of the nicest I've ever had the privilege of meeting, Star Mazda driver Connor De Phillippi, about what it was about racing that he loved in an interview. Here was his answer, which is one that I stood back for a second to analyze, and it made me love racing that much more:

"There are so many thing I love about motorsports. The whole connection with man and machine is one of the biggest things that draws me towards it. Obviously there is the competitive aspect, which is a massive part of things and another area of racing that drives me to push my hardest each day in and out of the car. On the technical side of racing, I must say that I am completely addicted and infatuated with it. It is literally an art." -Connor De Phillippi 

"It literally is an art." That speaks volumes. An engineering masterpiece. Nowadays, there are 80,000 components on a Formula 1 car. Which is to say, if you were 99.9% accurate in assembling, you'd still have 80 components off kilter! That is hard to fathom. Getting the most out of a car is what separates the good drivers from the great ones. One who did this amazingly was Ayrton Senna, would, in one grand prix at Monaco, out paced his teammate, Alain Prost, by 1.5 seconds in identical cars! Just fascinating.

And for those who think race car drivers aren't athletic, I'd like to see you handle 3.0-4.0 G's for two to three hours at a time. To say race car drivers are unathletic is a completely obtuse statement *cough Golden Tate cough*

Going out to a race on a Sunday with family or friends is single handily one of the funnest things anybody could do in a lifetime. From personal experience, there is nothing better than sharing a father-son bond at a race, and that is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Jumping in glee after seeing a pass or getting a foot cramp from tapping it on the ground in rigorous anticipation to see how a thrilling race would end.

There are so many countless stories that can be told on how racing has affected the lives of millions people on and off the track. Friendships have been made, champions crowned, and thrilling moments etched in stone for an eternity. Drivers strap themselves to guided missiles all for one thing, for the thrill of victory, for the sense of accomplishing something, and to catch that checkered flag fever.

One of the greatest battles ever, Villeneuve vs Arnoux 1979 French GP

After all of these stories of great victories, determination, and unprecedented courage and athleticism, it is easy to see why so many people love racing.

So no matter if you are a fan of Indycar, Nascar, Formula 1, GP2, V8 Super Cars, Rally Racing, USAC, or a local lawn mower race, we can all agree that racing is and always will be a fixture in millions of people's lives.

"Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting." -Steve McQueen

Let me know what you all think.

-Matthew Hickey

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