Sunday, February 25, 2007

Nascar: More Than Just Fast Cars and Freedom

When a winter snow storm plowed through upstate New York last week, it pretty much sealed the fate of my appearance in Syracuse. Much like my flight... it was CANCELLATIONS, across the board. Determined to not let that put a damper on my weekend (and almost grateful for a week to thaw out from my recent jaunts to sports venues afar), I packed my bags and headed to one of the biggest sporting events the South has to boast… The Daytona 500. Before you begin your barrage of Deliverance references and launch into endless Jeff Foxworthy quotes, hear me out. There’s more to NASCAR than meets the eye. Sure, it may look like 43 cars… plus or minus a few at the end of the race…driving around in circles, but in reality the Daytona 500 truly is the Great American Race. 189 miles per hour around a 2.5 mile track, for two hundred laps. One cup, one car, one driver to take it all.

This year’s race began on a sour note, marked by scandal that most sports have dealt with at one point or another in their own personal histories… cheating. Don’t expect to see Herbie the Love Bug publishing a tell-all expose anytime soon, outing the cars that juiced before the big race… but… illegal substances in NASCAR???.. Now, I have seen it all. Officials only discovered the violation after someone performing a routine maintenance check on Michael Waltrip’s car, stuck their arm in the manifold, only to remove it covered in a foreign substance. It’s a good thing they don’t test the horses at the Derby this way… let alone professional athletes. :::shudders::: Then again, if that isn’t a deterrence to juicing, I dunno what is.

Cheating seems to be a central theme in the world today… everyone from Presidents to Barry Bonds is allegedly doing it. Since when did cheating become the norm? Hell, if parents these days don’t even bother to correct their kids for cheating at Candyland or Scrabble… how are they supposed to learn what they are doing really is wrong??? We as a society are so concerned with getting ahead, and getting what we want, we forget about the people we destroy to get there. We lie, we backstab, we just straight up deceive… all to get to the head of the pack. We cheat on tests, games, and sometimes even each other. In the end, no one really wins, because the trust is forever gone and the bond is forever damaged.

Sometimes it’s just better to live, learn, and move on. You let off the gas, slam down the clutch, and shift gears. You may stall the first few times, but you’ll get the hang of it eventually. Once it becomes fluid… you’ll be unstoppable.

The road of life isn’t a straightaway: It’s got curves, bumps, and dead ends. The dead ends aren’t there to discourage you, only to tell you that you’ve come as far as your predecessors have. The feeble minded will turn around thinking they made a wrong turn and go back to the monotony of their everyday lives never knowing what could have lay ahead. Others… the bolder models, will strike out, break away, and cut their own path. Sure, they could listen to the signs that tell them to turn around, or use caution… but what fun would that be?... Life was meant to be lived with a green flag, and those that pull the yellow-caution are only trying to slow you down.

I live my life at a fast pace, and a quarter-mile at a time. For that ten seconds or less, nothing else matters. It’s about me, my hopes, my dreams, and the feeling of the wind in my hair. Nothing but fast cars and freedom. My road has no predetermined destination, just the stops along the way. Folks can either come along for the ride or watch from the crowd. Because once this baby gets moving, there will be nothing left but dust and a license plate to remember me by.

People around us are forever trying to strap us to our seats, and playing traffic cop to make us slow down. But what if for once, you unbuckled the safety belt and took a risk on the unknown? No one got anywhere in life without taking risks on people, on love, and on life. So why settle for a diesel Rabbit, when you can have that dream car you always wanted. You know the one: that old sixty seven Vette you’ve coveted since the time you were old enough to drive your power wheels… with the bright candy apple red paint job and the white convertible top. How could you ever forget? Who says it has to be a dream… why not a reality? Christopher Reeves once said:

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

Maybe we should all stop driving the way the voice in the backseat tells us to, taking the roads they choose for us, and just leave the driving to a higher power. Sure, you can fight the pull of the car, but in the end… who are you really kidding? Life’s funny like that, once you let go of the wheel… you might just end up right where you belong.


Jon said...

You know Jenn, reading your blog over the past several months has been an enriching experience. I must admit that I am not a sports fan. I am not anti-sports in any way but it just doesn't resonate with me. I come to your blog always in a neutral position on the subject of sports not knowing what to expect and I am always in the end awakened to something I was previously unaware of, or re-awakened to something I had forgotten and otherwise inspired somehow. This entry was no different for me: I started off gaining an appreciation for the value of sports and ended up encouraged by your thoughts on life, cheating and trust neatly packaged in an accessible metaphor.
Thanks, Jenn.


French said...

Well, you haven't inspired me to become a NASCAR fan but you have done some justice to watching the sport live. Well done, because I'm very stubborn about not liking NASCAR/car racing in general. But wait, did you watch the race from the pits? That's gotta be a completely different experience than from the stands, no?

I just might have to watch a full race and dedicate a blog entry to that event. Stay tuned.