Friday, November 16, 2007
Long lasting impressions
Funny isn't it how often we make judgments often after only a few seconds of meeting someone or even by seeing their car without even meeting the person. On the drive from the San Francisco Bay Area we were to meet up with Gerie Bledso in what would be the beginning of the Coyote Convoy. Will and I had gone a day ahead to spend some time with friends in Phoenix and it was that evening that we finally hooked up with him and his good friend Al Cox. I remember how excited I was when we first saw them and I said, "Hey, I saw three La Carrera on the freeway today!" That was the first time I had the privilege of meeting Al Cox and right then and there a friendship was formed. Not only was my first impression a good one but in fact it turned out to be far more than I ever expected as we turned what was a good friendship into some sort of Two wild and crazy guys routine from Saturday Night Live.
Along the way we stopped at various places to eat and other hotels and it was then that Al would tell me about the team he was crewing for. The truth is with all that was going on and being talked about, without actually seeing the car car I had never realy had any impression about the team or the car. But after we had reached the hotel in Laredo Texas and had time to settle in as I was walking around the hotel parking lot it was then that I first saw one of the most beautiful cars I would see during the entire race. As I walked over to it I saw my new buddy Al stand up as he was going over some things with the owner of the car. "Al, is THIS the car you are crewing for!" I asked. It was an amazingly beautiful and well built purple Studebaker and it belonged to Stewart and Linda Robertson and to make things even better was the fact that it once belonged to Gerie Bledso it it even had more interest for me for a historical reason. Funny how that first impression of the car made such a statement about the owner/driver and I hadn't so much as said one word to them yet.
Well as things turned out they were so busy going over some issues with the car that I knew from experience now was not a good time to chat so I let them alone. Over the next few days I would bump into Linda and Stewart but as was the case with so many others we just never had time to chat. It wasn't until one day in the parking lot of the hotel at San Miguel de Allende that I had an opportunity to begin visiting with Stewart. I never asked why but on the long drive to San Miguel de Allende Stewart had chosen to drive his car and by the time we reached the hotel the once beautiful car was now dirty and Stewart seemed somewhat stressed out. But that evening some arrangements had been made, a deal struck and the car was cleaned and placed on a tractor/trailer where it would accompany other La Carrea cars to Oaxaca. I will never forget what a look of "relief" Stewart had on his face that afternoon as he saw his baby at rest for what we all knew was going to be one hell of a long ride.
Over the following days the friendship grew and it was at the baseball field at Oaxaca where it truly blossomed as we where pitted together and it was then that everything began to come together. Al helped Stewart and Linda with their car, we all got thru our tech inspections and things began to happen but more importantly new found friendships found their Genesis.
During the many different stages of the races we all had on our game faces and there was very little time to chat about anything however once we found our way thru the waiting finish line arch and to the beautiful squares with large crowds of fans that all changed. It was then that we seemed to find our favorites and begin downloading with each other as to what an amazing adventure we had had. What I enjoyed most about Linda and Stewart was their ability to have an upbeat outlook no matter what events had happened prior. Another part of what I enjoyed about them is based on prior experiences having been around racers for so many years... Many times when a team is having some tough luck they tend to take it out on anyone that approaches them as if it's everyone else's fault or something. But that as not to be the care with Linda and Stewart as they chose to take the high road and where always in high spirits. I found that amazing and considering they are a husband and wife team all the more inspiring. How many married couples will ever be able to tell stories about the time they took part in one of the most famous road races in the world and lived to talk about it? LOL.
In retrospect as I look back little did I ever know from my first impression that such a wonderful bond would be found. Linda and Stewart are without a doubt two of my favorite people from the race and ones I wish nothing but the best too in whatever they choose to do in the future. There are so many awesome photos of them and their car but here are a few that stand out to me. The last two are unique in that Stewart wrote; "I've attached a photo set we received from "Gael" Rodriguez of the famed corner on La Bufa, where he managed to crash twice, in two different years. Once going up and once going down. It's amazing how similar our "parking jobs" were. Especially given that I crashed just outside Oaxaca."
All things considerd, Linda and Stewrat's first Carrera (race for that matter) found them in good company with an awesome finish of 27th overall. Congratulations and job well done!