Friday, February 16, 2007

The night before...

Anyone that knows me well will tell you I am a Hemingway enthusiast and not only do I have a great love and respect for all his works but in fact have fished and hunted in many of the very same locations he did including many parts of Africa. Two of my favorite Hemingway quotes are, "Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another." and the one that stands out the most for me is, "Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports ... all others are games."

In the northern Spanish city of Pamplona there is a long-standing tradition better known among Pamplona residents as "The Running of Bulls", the event achieved international notice thanks to Ernest Hemingway and his 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises." "He took a small town festival and really immortalized it in his words so well and so eloquently … that it became romantic," said Hilary Hemingway, an author, documentary filmmaker, and niece of the famous writer.

After my book "I Slept In Africa" made the Forbes book list my wife and I were the guest of Ernest Hemingway's son, Patrick Hemingway at his home in Montana. One evening he asked me, "You race cars, what do you feel before a big race?" After giving the question some thought I explained... "Respectfully using one of your father's own quotes as a basis for my answer. I feel the same excitement, shortness of breath, adrenaline rush, exuberance and rush that a bull fighter, a mountain climber or even a runner in the Running of Bulls must feel.

I can now honestly say that the preparation for the upcoming La Carrera Panamericana is nothing short of a daily dose of all of the above. Furthermore, I can also say that in looking back I have learned taking part or even winning a race means very little without all that takes part in getting both physically and mentally prepared let alone all that is involved in the process and details of building a winning car and team. None will do well without the other.

Hemingway wrote, "There are people who love command and in their eagerness to assume it they are impatient at the formalities of taking over from someone else. I love command since it is the ideal welding of freedom and slavery. You can be happy with your freedom and when it becomes too dangerous you take refuge in your duty. I was bored with this since I knew myself and my defects and strengths too well and they permitted me little freedom and much duty."

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