Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's Tough To Live Through Another Racer Vicariously

Father and son Will and me.

When someone ask me what I love most about racing without hesitation I tell them it's doing it with family. Even since my kids were little we all spent race day with each other. If I wasn't with my son at the kart track he was with me at the road races. Over the years our entire family spent more weekends racing than we did at home it seems. Families that race together have more going for them than they realize. In the years to come there will be times when they sit around the living room and reminisce and laugh about the times they spent at the track, the good and the bad. And one day, the kids will be able to say... "Listen up... Let me tell you grand kids about the time your grandfather and me raced down in Mexico....."

During the months prior to the start of the 2008 La Carrera Panamericana one of the toughest emotions for me was knowing I was not going to be there but even harder was watching other teams that were going who where either father and son, husband and wife or family members traveling together. While racing is exciting in more ways than can be explained, there is nothing more rewarding than doing it with a member of your family. Of course anyone who has ran La Carrera will tell you that once you have been there you end up adopting a lot of wonderful people who in fact seem like family before you return home but the simple reality is, nothing is thicker than blood.

One of the lesson I love best about these families is that they are always supportive of each other through whatever hand is dealt them. No matter how tough things got everyone of them had a sincere smile on their faces. If they made a MasterCard commercial it might go something like this... Race car, $100,000. Time off from work and trip, $15,000. Good sportsmanship... Priceless.

In 2007 when Jon and I ran I was extremely fortunate that my son Will was a member of our team. Not only couldn't we have done so well without him but just being able to spend such an awesome adventure with him was amazing in it's self. Since Will grew up in the racing world from the time he was a little boy which led to him becoming the youngest licensed race car driver in the U.S. and eventually to national championships as well as race director for one of the largest racing venues in the U.S. how luck could a team be to have his experience as part of the team?

Needless to say, it really touches me in a special place when I see others as fortunate as we have been. While I can't name them all I can remember some of the "family" teams that I have been blessed to become friends and raced with during La Carrera Panamericana. There are many more but unfortunately I didn't meet them all but here are some of them who ran with us in 2007 and then again in 2008.

Father and son Richard Bailey and Chad McKinney.

Husband and wife Linda and Stewart Robertson from Canada. Boy do those Canadians love purple.

Husband and wife Chrislana and John Gregory also from Canada.

Brothers Mat and Jacob Gregory. (Sons of Crislana and John Gregory.)

"The Boys" passing the ole man. Love this one and talk about memories.

Father and daughter Vance and Kristin Stewart.

Husband and wife Cairenn and Che Voigt.

Husband and Wife and child Francisco Ortiz.

Father and son Jeffery and John Mckain. This one really hurt for several obvious reasons. Like any other "devoted" racer, the first time I saw this photo my stomach turned upside down and my first thought was I sure hope the car is OK. Just kidding. Seriously, earlier in the year I had the privilege of meeting John, Jeffery's son, at Ron Lee's La Carrera party. During the year I had corresponded with Jeffery but later on while in San Miguel de Allende I got to spend some time getting to know them and loved checking out their beautiful car. It was in this very car that I had hoped I would vicariously race in the 2008 La Carrera Panamericana but my race was all too short. On the other hand... one of the main points I am attempting to make here is that the overall outcome of this race means nothing in comparison to the many lifetimes of passing along memories about some of the family members most amazing journeys taken together.

Now here's a relationship we might not want to know about. This is my good friend Clyde Morter and the report I got was Clyde and his team mate had a few too many tequilas and when they asked the local Federallys where they could get a marriage license.... Well, from what I understand the Federallys told them that the jail where they were taking them they wouldn't need a marriage license. (Just kidding)

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