I still remember the day I sold my beloved Mysterian like it was yesterday. Most of what I remember is Nicholas watching it leave our old shop behind someone else’s truck. He was almost in tears, I guess I wasn’t much better off either. I had to do it because of where I was at in my life but I still hate that I did. Racing, Formula Vee specifically, has always been part of my life and I am not sure how many people in the world can say that. I started the construction of that car to give my Father and I something to talk about that distracted both of us from the Cancer that would eventually take his life. I had wanted to finish the car so he could go to the track one more time before he passed away. He was blind by then but he could have heard the sounds and the announcers, drank his coffee and shared his stories with the people in the paddock.
Those of you who were there have no idea what you missed because he never made it to the track.
He didn’t make it to the track though as I did not finish the car before he passed. After I DNFed my first race back I went into a porta potty, sat on the toilet and cried for twenty minutes, it was that emotional a thing for me this RACING thing.
In the coming years I got further and further into racing a spent more effort on it than I did on my professional life, in fact I tried to MAKE IT my professional life. Nicholas shared something with me, he grew up at the race track just like I did. I worked on my skills, worked on my driving, spent too much and had a life.
I quit racing not because I lost interest but because of a callus phonecall from a friend and Paddock politics. The latter, in fact, was the reason that I stayed away from racing as long as I did from 1980-2000. I was so worried about what people thought about me that I would deprive myself of the thing I loved most because of it. Yeah, I know, sad bordering on pathetic. It’s OK, I’m better now.
When I left my friend Blake Tatum told me with a smile that “You aren’t retiring you’re going into remission”. I didn’t really know how right he really was. Since that time I have had several bad relationships (the one I gave up racing for ended really badly), got caught in the economic downturn and been generally kicked around to the point of not knowing what was up and which way it was.
Then I started going back to the racetrack this year this year and things changed. I realized that there actually was a place where I belonged and where I could be happy. Last month I rejoined the SCCA. This weekend I will be sorting through my old shop looking for race car parts. In 2000 my return to racing started with a greasy VW front end and a helmet. Well I have a greasy front end already modified to go on a Formula First (yes, I am going Formula First racing, if you don’t like it keep it to yourself!) along with the baseline pieces for a car. I have been talking to Crusader cars. I am broke but I am resilient. Over at THEBUCKYPROJECT I am working on my body and quietly in the shadows I will be working on my tools.
So I am coming out of retirement, hide the women.