When you here the word racing what do you think of? Drag racing, autocross, time attack, Nascar, or even racing your friends on foot as a small child? People who have never been in the racing scene often think of racing as a way to simply find out who is the fastest or who can drive the best. Those who dislike racing in general might claim that it is an attempt for shear primal competition. While one cannot deny the fact that the desire to win and be the best is definitely a major factor, in a great racer it is not necessarily what truly drives them.

There is a trill involved that simply cannot be explained in words. This exhilarating thrill that you get as you are staging a car beside an opponent you are certain you can beat but, are not certain you will. Not because of feeling self-doubt but in the manner that it is racing and anything can happen. Something about the sheer urge to push yourself and your machine to its absolute limit, or even beyond that limit if your will is strong enough. I myself drag race both cars and motorcycles. I can say with out a doubt that the thrill of looking over at your opponent as you stage your car in the lane next to them and wonder what the outcome will be. This is both terrifying and thrilling at the same time. You know what you are capable of and what you are pushing so had to achieve, but also at the same time wondering  if your machine is up to the task, if you are ready for the ride to, come and the dangers that could await.

As you pull up to the line your attention shifts from your opponent to yourself. Not only to what you want to accomplish but something much, much deeper. Something not realized until you are in that moment. This is how racing is a reflection of LIFE. Not just an arbitrary way to see who can drive the best or built the best car but it directly mirrors how life goes. You realize that just like on the track anything can happen. How staging is like being a child; you are preparing for what is to come. You know exactly how you want things turn out to win both in life and on the track. As you pull to the  line it is so similar to your adolescent years and even your teens. You look back constantly in your mind to assure yourself you have prepared the best you can but, never fully certain that you did everything you needed to do.

As confident as you can be you roll into the first set of bulbs and in to your later teenage years maybe even your early twenties. At this point you relive there truly is no turning back. You realize that ready or not things are about to get very exciting. This is the point like in life ( at least if you are in any way mentally prepared) you switch from thinking about what you might have done in the past. To thinking about what will, could, and might necessary need to be done in the future. You stop wondering and at least try to start visualizing the next set of events and what needs to be done to achieve victory. You realize that there is so much more to come. At the same time so much more that could go wrong, as you bump in and light up the second set of bulbs.

Suddenly you see the lights start to drop. You realize how fast things are moving. TO FAST!! You wish you could slow time down but at the same time you just to see the outcome. See how things will end and if you will be victorious. You try to judge the lights after all a good start can make or break the entire race. This does not mean that is will determine the victor but it sure can give you a leg up. It can also show you where you are lacking and where you need to improve. Sometimes you leave with the front tires in the air or sometimes you spin uncontrollably. This is where like in life you will see not every car and not every person will preform the same for a multitude of reasons. Tires, suspension, drive-train, even the weather will change how well you leave the line from day-to-day. The same goes for people in life we are all different, in one way or another, our values, where we live, and just in who we are. All of these things should be taken into consideration when you are setting up for the race. Adjusting tire pressure, suspension travel, timing all of this is the same as looking honestly into ourselves. There is no one size fits all just like there is no one same path in life for any two people.

As you leave the line hard your heart races and your adrenaline pumps as sweaty palms grip the steering wheel tightly. Hoping you are going to go straight and preparing for if you don’t. This is the part of life where your know you are getting nearer or having made decisions in your life that set you on a path to which you will be forever bound.  Collage, marriage, children, and your career  are much like decisions behind the wheel, much like adjustments in the throttle or brake. The tiniest of steering corrections can send you on a drastically different path. All of this having one of three consequences, beneficial, decaying or making no discernible difference. Though with most decisions in life if you make a mistake there is usually a chance you can correct it. Here in lies the true testament of what makes a person a great driver, and a person who navigates the race track that is life. It seems to come down to just a couple of very specific things. Being able to accurately read and quickly discern what is a mistake or a small victory. Followed by the ability to quickly and effectively repair the damage caused by any mistakes or misjudgments.

As the  G forces push you into the seat it also reminds you that you are just along for the ride just as much as you are in control of the outcome. This is something forgotten sometimes in both racing and in life. While every single decision no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential has some effect in one way or another, life and the car will also do what it will do all on it own. Things break and accidents happen. Some times things are completely out of your control and all you can do is hope for the best. In a car we have roll cages and cut off switches and other safety devices that help to protect you in the same way you take precautions to keep ourselves safe.

Then you realize you are at the finish line you don’t even realize how fast it was. All the preparation, and focus and drive gives way to memory even remorse that the ride is almost over. You look to your side and wonder if you won not to hold back your opponent but to lift up yourself. To remind yourself how great of a ride it was. How all the blood sweat and tears to get to that point is to be justified, not by others, not by your opponent but, looking deep with yourself and seeing justification and pride for all the sacrifices you made just to get to that point.

Now this might be were the ties of the race and life might start to split somewhat, but only in the way that you only get one chance at life. But in the end  in racing you can make more and more passes and do better and better. This also can be used as a life lesson thought that sometimes things don’t just go right it takes practice hard work and sacrifice to reach the goals you set. The most rewarding attachment is to accomplish that in witch you though you never could. You see a part of yourself that you did not even know existed. Also upon seeing that part of yourself you grow, and with that growth even more unthinkable achievements can be reached. Fear, sacrifice, pain, and most of all failure must be experienced to achieve true victory. For what is the sweet taste of victory is you have never felt the bitter bite of defeat.

To me racing is so much more than just a competition, or a test of grit. Racing is a way of life, more than that it is a lesson and mirror of life showing that preparation and focus and hard work can bring you victory.That things do not always go as planned but you must be able to adapt.That you have to remember to enjoy the ride and not let it just pass by so quickly that it instantly turns into a memory. Most of all, like life it passes by far to fast. One second you are staging and looking to the future and before you know it you are crossing the finish line and you are reliving a memory, and wishing you could go just one more time at that second. So with this ride coming to an end I ask once more of you, To you—>> WHAT IS RACING?



Written by: Jeremy Payne


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