Only a fraction of the weekend is actually spent driving

My dad has often said that racing is mostly about good friends and good food with a little bit of driving in between. This weekend the cars were temperamental with problems we’re not even sure how to fix. Of 5 sessions on track, two were really fun with door to door racing, I missed one session altogether and all sessions were plagued by smoke and fumes and coolant spraying all over the cars, the track and both of us.  So while those 2 sessions were really fun, let’s label the driving portion of the weekend as “fickle”.

It goes without saying for anyone who has ever been near my mom that we can label the food portion of the weekend as outstanding. We had roasted chicken and potatoes, cookies, pasta, french toast and sausage, breakfast sandwiches, cake, ice cream, seafood salad, fresh fruit and more. She continually outdoes herself, and she does it all while watching my kids. Amazing.

Our favorite pasttime... eating with friends

Now, about the “friends” portion of the weekend. Corner/Safety workers and other drivers have become dear to us. Registration workers, timing & scoring folks who helped teach me how to subtract are all dear friends. Some people have been standing on the grid with us for years. Corner workers have carried body panels to us and helped us hunt in the woods for lost wheels. Tow truck drivers who consistently say “hope I don’t see you til the party tonight!” are always perky and generous and compassionate when they do, in fact, have to see us repeatedly to drag our broken pieces and shattered egos back to our paddock. Competitors who have offered advice, spare parts, camaraderie and encouragement, even if it means you might beat them – all because more cars on course is more fun! A couple people this weekend told me they remember when I was Ben’s age (5). I am grateful for their roles in my life, for their consistency that makes racing folks feel like family and for the kindnesses they have shown us over the years.

Then there are the outstanding friends who have come racing with us. For the most part they never even sit in a racecar or step onto the track or hold a safety flag. By and large they do the behind the scenes work that keeps us going – they turn wrenches of any size, burn their fingers on hot radiators, check the air in our tires, fill the gas tank, change tires in the rain, pull my seatbelts tighter, create improvised parts, duct-tape body panels together, change spark plugs, clean carburetors, stand in the hot sun (or in rain or snow) with stop watches or cameras, bleed brakes, repair head gaskets, adjust valves, camp in tents, sleep in their cars, babysit my babies (you get the idea… the list goes on) … and of course they eat the previously mentioned food. Some know a lot about cars and some learn when they get there. These friends volunteer to drive their own cars hundreds of miles to get to the track. They have been church friends, college friends, email-list friends, and so on. They listen to us tell stories that we’ve told over and over. One or two have even endured a serious tongue-lashing from my mom when I have a more serious accident. They rejoice with us when we succeed, get frustrated along side us when we fail, worry about us when we are out of sight and rebuild decades-old parts over and over again.  So let me say this: if you have ever come racing with us in the last 25ish years… Thank you.

Many of you have moved away, moved on, or aren’t able to join us any more. But let me tell you that this weekend you were missed. Even mom mentioned that there have been times when it felt more like a party than a racetrack. On Sunday when we were checking our own tires and gear I realized that it’s not just your working with us that we miss, it’s your presence. Being there with good friends to share stories with, teach and learn from (and eat with) that is what it’s all about.

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