As I have traveled around on this Tour thing, I began to realize that for many race teams and families associated with those teams, there’s a lot more to it than the racing. Underneath the hot laps, heat races and features, there is a lot of camaraderie going on.
It’s not confined to the families either; it involves fellow racers, friends, competitors, business owners who support the teams and also the track management. All of those associations are fostered and cultivated at the track and often further expanded away from the track.
The attitude that is directly opposed to that notion and observation is the feeling that the fellow racers and teams are the “enemy.” Going down that path will lead to alienation, conflict and resentment. I’ve seen both and I would much rather be associated with, and be around the former.
What got me thinking about that was my visit to Atomic Motor Raceway, an out-of-the-way dirt track where both fans and racers had to travel 45 miles or more to attend the Saturday night races. The track is way out there and maybe this remoteness and the uniqueness of it motivated those who come to feel a sort of brotherhood.
Maybe it was the rural setting that promoted the friendly attitude I saw among most of those who raced there. Whatever it was, it was a good thing and one that every track could learn from.
Hey, we’re not all setup to be super social, and don’t think you have to be. By estimates of those who study this kind of thing, there are about 45 percent of us who are introverts. So, that means those who are, are less social. That doesn’t mean we can’t mingle, it just means we might need a little nudge from those who are naturally extroverts.
Whatever side of the social register you are on, make an effort to make friends in the pits. Respond and return the conversation when the extroverts come knocking at your trailer door. You’ll find that after a while, going to the race track will seem more like a family reunion than a competition.
That doesn’t mean you have to lay back in your racing effort, after all, competition is competition. It does mean you will find more understanding and forgiveness when you “accidentally” move your division neighbor out of the way to get that hard earned victory.
What I saw at Atomic and other tracks where the racers got along was an attitude of happiness for whomever won by those who were not the winners. What goes around comes around, and when it is your turn, they will usually return the favor.
If you watch Formula 1 racing, you might have seen an example of what I am talking about. In the most recent race taking place in England, Sebastian Vettel was the winner, but was being pursued at the end by Kimi Raikkonen who had fresher tires and was gaining on the leader by a half second a lap. Another two laps at most and Kimi would have won. It was hard fought and at the end, Vettel was driving the wheels off his car to stay ahead.
After the drivers had exited their cars, Kimi gave a pat on the back and a smile to Sebastian in a congratulatory display that to me speaks volumes about their characters. It does take character to acknowledge someone else’s success and appreciate how hard they worked to get it. Kimi knew, and showed his appreciation. Next time it might be Vettel who congratulates Raikkonen, who knows.
Take a lesson from the true professionals and become more acquainted with your fellow racers, their families, and yes, even the track officials and crews. It will then become about more than the racing, you’ll maybe find the icing on the cake.
If you have comments or questions about this or anything racing related, send them to my email address: Bob.Bolles@sorc.com, or mail can be sent to Circle Track, Senior Tech Editor, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619.