(Thunder Valley) In a distant land, at 5:30pm on a sunny Thursday
afternoon, I saw my people advancing toward me in an endless column.
I was standing on a vast sheet of deserted asphalt, in the middle
of a quiet, lifeless, race track, somewhere in America where the
West meets the ocean.
A man on a motorized skateboard chalked off spaces and over the
bridge between turns five and six they came, a caravan of cars,
trucks, mobile homes, and trailers of all kinds carrying race cars.
With precision, with industry, and with joy, they built their racing
paddock on that sheet of asphalt. Within half an hour, they were
250 race cars strong.
| heroics of past generations...
They came to meet old friends, to build new friendships, to continue
rivalries, to tell the old jokes, and to pursue their personal quests,
both on the track and off. What had been a serene valley amidst
browning hills only faintly echoing the heroics of past generations,
became a bubbling, living community, full of expectation of great
things to come.
These were all strangers to me and I was a stranger to them. I
introduced myself, not by name, but by affiliation with a branch
of their community, and fell into conversation easily about the
many things we knew we had in common. I was accepted and felt at
I had come to the center of Laguna Seca to contemplate the beauty
and the history of this great racing venue. I thought of Jackie
Stewart, of Mark Donohue, of Stirling Moss, of Mario Andretti, of
Dan Gurney, of Carroll Shelby, of Jim Hall, and of so many others,
nameless men and women who have left their indelible mark on this
Much to my great surprise, as I meditated, all the active members
of the San Francisco Region of the Sports Car Club of America joined
me. They came in person, with their families and friends, with their
race cars and support equipment, and with their hopes and plans
for a great weekend of racing. They recreated their community in
front of me and made me welcome.
Later, as I drove to the airport, I thought about what I had just
seen. Racing is all about community. As racers and race fans, we
build this community wherever we gather. I realized that I had just
witnessed a perfect example of the reawakening of our glorious community
within one of the racing world's most storied settings. I was honored
to have borne that witness.