A Sixties Kind of Guy

Editor's Notebook, February 2000



T.W. Theodore

It's the dead of Winter here in Thunder Valley. Snow covers the hillsides that slope into the Valley and icicles hang from the abutment of the Billy Mitchell Bridge. We stand at the apex of Canada Corner and listen for the warming sounds of race engines at full throttle. Daytona and Sebring are far away, much too far.


a time for reflection... 

It's a time for reflection on past glories (and failures) and a time to renew hope for the future. It's a time to take stock.


I'm a sixties kind of guy. I know that. It dates me. I know that. I've been part of the action on behalf of numberless causes, for the rights of people of color, of welfare mothers, of young people, of the homeless, of seniors. Sometimes a local leader, mostly a marcher. My reasons for being involved are many and convoluted. Some are personal. Some are historical. Some are a matter of chance.


the value of community... 
I know the value of community, of belonging to a group that carries you through defeat and celebrates your victories with you. I know the importance of concerted action to right wrongs and advance the cause of the group.

But I also know and greatly value individual achievement and the sense of pride that follows personal accomplishment. The first African-American, for instance, elected to a particular office wants to be known as the best person for the job, not the best African-American person available.



So, what does this have to do with standing on the edge of a frozen race track, straining for the sound and the smell of auto racing? Thunder Valley Racing, my Thunder Valley and your Thunder Valley, rides the tension between the need for affirmative action and the intense competitive nature of race car drivers.


not enough to be the 'first woman'... 
It is too late (and not enough) for a driver to be the 'first woman' to enter a race series, win a race, set a racing record. Drivers judge themselves and want others to judge them against the best in the field. Those of us who are pleasant back markers find pleasure in competing with others at the back of the pack. Those with real talent find their joy in competing for the lead.

And yet, there are issues, there are problems, there are barriers to success for women in racing that don't exist for men or are less severe for men. The issue of sponsorship is a major concern. Acceptance at the track is a lessening concern, but still a concern. A community of empathetic peers with whom to share success and lament failure is an ever present need. Finding a racing suit that fits is no small problem for many.


Thunder Valley Racing is dedicated to addressing those issues without denigrating the importance of individual achievement. We believe that a rising tide lifts all boats, that drafting is a good way to move to the front, that in togetherness there is strength, that there is no 'I' in Thunder Valley (even though the 'I' is very much present in 'racing').


I'm a sixties kind of guy who feels at home at the turn of the century. Thunder Valley Racing is a sixties kind of place that is every bit as much needed at the beginning of the new century as in the middle of the old.


confidence and trust... 
As a supporter of women in racing and as a very interested observer of the racing scene, I'd love to see women drivers work together, share experience and expertise as they, together, rise through the pack. It would be a joy, then, to see them compete head to head, with confidence and trust in one another, not to be the best woman driver on the track, but for the victory.

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