At sixty miles per hour, with our little tent-trailer home hanging on for dear life behind us, the truck began to skid sideways. Gord, who had been sleeping, awoke with a start as the truck bounced and slid wildly across our lanes. With its nose pointing toward the cornfield on the right side of the highway, I counter-steered, got it slowed down, and somewhat safely pulled us off to the interstate shoulder.
Following the Mid-Ohio race, which improved to “slightly better than sucked,” we began the long drive back to Vancouver. I had driven the best I could in the race, given my challenged physical and mental state, but it was obvious that our hastily-home-built race car was not up to the task. The plan was to go home to Vancouver and make changes as part of the car’s development.
About an hour later, I start to pass one of those huge transport trucks with hundreds of cages full of live chickens. By this time I’m trying anything possible to stay awake, and I’m probably a little delirious as well. So I start talking to the chickens.
Typically, it takes at least six months to design and build a race car. Most race car builders take longer than that. But did I mention that I might not be all that smart, and that I’m driven?
I made the only decision that made sense to an eager twenty-six-year-old race driver: I was in. To this day, I’m not sure if I was just plain stupid, overly optimistic, maniacally stubborn, or a combination of all of them, but I was determined to race the full series, nothing less. When a young driver is at a point in his career when something’s got to happen quickly or it’s lights out, and the opportunity to make it big is slipping away, his decision-making abilities may become a little questionable.
Ask a race driver why he or she does it, and you’ll get as many answers as you have drivers. Some race for the thrill of driving fast, some for the intrinsic or extrinsic rewards, some for the technical challenge, some for the spectacle and beauty of the sport, and some to win. Me? I race to outwit my competitors. It’s a mental game. A chess game at a hundred-plus miles per hour. I don’t care about being the fastest; I care about being in the lead at the end of the race.