To a Younger Sister
Editor's Notebook, March 2000
Nearly every morning, when I check my email messages, I'm rewarded with at least one note from a woman race car driver I've not yet met. Sometimes they ask a question about racing or sponsorship. Sometimes they ask how to become part of Thunder Valley. Sometimes they just want to say 'Hi' and let me know they are out there.
I try to answer the messages in a timely manner, but when I'm traveling or the pesky pull of my consulting practice intervenes, the email messages stack up. I've got a small stack on my desk right now and would like to answer one of the messages here in this column.
A Thunder Valley Racing fan writes:
|I am seven...|
"Hello my name is Heather I am seven. I am looking for a sponsor for my quarter midget race car. I start race school this spring. I will be the youngest driver on a dirt track in NJ. I have been looking for a sponsor for a while now. If you can sponsor or know someone that would please write back I am painting my car like a cow. You see I love cows. My number is 57. Thank you for reading my letter. Yours truly Heather."
I don't know about you, but I find this letter quite energizing. I'm feeling optimistic about the state of auto racing this morning and want to share this optimism with you. When a seven year old girl begins her racing career with the confidence that Heather displays, all is right with the world. Or all will be right with the world very shortly.
Heather, I'll respond to you privately, but let me say now that with your love of cows and your enthusiasm for racing, you'll go far. Too many people, mostly grown-ups, have no idea what they love or what is important to them. I'm glad that you've figured it out. (Don't be worried if you change your mind, by the way. Cows are hard to love for a long time.)
We'd like to learn more about you and your racing. If your parents agree, we'd like to publish pictures of you and have you tell us about race school. Write back and let me know how it is going. If we can find someone who would be interested in sponsoring you, we'll be sure to pass them along to you.
|the absurd hold of racing...|
Now, for the rest of us. I keep a quote from the late Walter Payton on my desk. When he first became involved with a CART team as an owner, Payton said, "If we were in this to be making money, we'd already be selling parts to make ends meet, wholesaling hubcaps. We're in this because we're pioneers, because we're adventurers,... because we're stupid." If you love racing, you know the feeling of adventure, the absurd hold that racing has on us, that Walter was talking about.
We race because we love it. We race because we have to. We race because, as a sage once said, racing is life. Everything else is just waiting.
The search for sponsorship, the search for the perfect car set up, the search for the perfect lap, for the last tenth of a second, all are in the service of our mind-numbing love of the sport. That love makes us brothers and sisters in the sport. Heather is among our youngest siblings. We'll help her. She'll help us. We'll all continue our search.