Race car drivers compete head to head and the race could be compared to an organized fight, as opposed to a street fight. Note that I'm not encouraging fighting on the track or in the pits. On the contrary, I'm going to explain how this comparison could be good for the mentality of the drivers and the future of the sport.
There are, in my observations, two scenarios for the attitudes of the participants of racing and fighting. One is where each has a certain amount of disdain for each other, sees the other as the "enemy" and would never associate with the opponent. I call this group the Boxer group.
The second group can be compared to mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters. They are trained to respect and honor the skills of their opponents and even associate and train with them off the mat. This group I'll call the Grapplers.
With the first group of Boxers, we see dirty racing, lack of respect, on- and off-track incidents, fighting, and a general tension at the races. Each team in this group stays to itself, never speaks to its opponents, and would never think of respecting anything about the other teams.
This way of going racing is very lonely, creates animosity, and promotes a clan or gang existence for each of the teams. I see this way of living and racing as not only immature, but displaying a negative image to the youth who are observers of the racing between these teams. We should be providing a positive example to the youngsters.
The second team of Grapplers is one whom we can all learn from. I'm always impressed when watching the MMA fights on TV where the combatants bow to each other before the contest, beat the crap out of each other for 15 minutes, and then hug and congratulate each other no matter the winner. That's called respect and it takes a very mature and confident person to live that way.
Why do they do that? Because they feel comfortable in their own skin; they're confident people who train hard, become very good at what they do, appreciate their sport, and are happy to compete and even happier to win. The primary driving force is respect for the other "team," and in racing that would be the entire team they are competing against.
The winners in racing and MMA are the ones who put a lot of effort into their games. They're more disciplined, better equipped, and more focused than the other teams. So, as in any sport, you've got to appreciate those qualities and hope for the same to come to your team. Meanwhile, why not be big and appreciate when others have finally achieved their hard earned success? It takes nothing away from your effort.
If your team exhibits the traits of the Boxer team, why not take the lead and reach out to the competitors? I always believed that all racetracks and sanctions for touring events should have a podium ceremony where the top three teams are recognized. That way, the drivers are brought together to share the success of all, much like Grand Am racing and Formula 1.
Bringing the teams closer together strengthens the sport; while keeping them isolated is bad for the sport. When was the last time anyone on your team congratulated the winner in your division after the race? It takes a real man/woman to put your own ego aside and recognize the accomplishments of another team. Start this week. It'll make you feel good and will bring much needed brotherhood to short track racing. It'll never be seen as negative, trust me.
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.