Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The real test isn't about racing...

To successfully do well in the La Carrera Panamericana you need to have a WHOLE lot going for you... You need an amazingly well prepared car, a good driver, an awesome navigator, one hell of a support team, the planets to be in alignment and lots of luck. But what I have learned to be most valualbe from this adventure is friendship and maintaining them.

In the beginning it sounds like fun... If your definition of fun is driving a tow truck 4000 miles to get there, 3 to 4 hours of sleep each night, never being able to get in any site-seeing, less than adequate meals, always rushed, racing on roads that are less than forgiving and that you know nothing about, wondering if your car can last one more day, the confusion of where to be at what time and all this multiplied by 10 then you have come to the right place. Personally, I was lived in fear that I would let down my team by making a mistake that could finish it for us and then I was worried how it would affect a good friendship with our sponsor and last but not least was the fear of letting down my son whom I love so much. In the back of my mind day and night even before we left home was my fears of not doing well. Also there was that damn video of a friend who flipped on the last day after having a 6 minute lead on his nearest competitor that haunted my every thought.

All of the above caused tension and had it not been for my understanding friend and navigator Jon and my son Will I could never have performed the way we did. At first it pissed me off but after a while I realized what he was doing when he would just say, "Don't worry about it. You have fours things you need to do. Step on the gas, turn right, turn left, and step on the brake. Just leave the rest to us." Jon and Will made my whole experience one of the best I will ever remember and what a privilege it is to have them as my friends.

You may not hear this any other place but the sorts of stress I am talking about hit hard in several other camps. For example one morning early in the race Jon told me he had been talking to another driver and asked him how things were going. The answer was not one you would ever expect or what to hear. He told Jon, "This morning my navigator told me he had his bags packed and was going home. Now I have no navigator and I have lost a best friend of 15 years."

I still feel terrible that this sort of thing had to happen or that any friendship should have to be ruined because of a damn race. But in the same breath it makes me honored that my team would tolerate and understand all that I went thru and that they would make the sacrifices and have the compassion to know that our friendships outweigh any token prize we might bring home. When we came home it was with tired and worn bodies but when all is said and done we will embrace and say, "These are my best friends... These friendships are the grandest prize of all. They are friendships I will cherrish as long as I live so help me God."

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