2001 SCCA National Championships

(As originally posted to the Talon Digest)

I've been getting email messages from people wanting to know what happened at Nationals this year - after all, it's been over a week since I got back. Normally, the race report goes out immediately upon my return.

The truth is, I've been procrastinating. Autocross is a supremely difficult sport, made even more so when you're in a class that demands as much modification to the vehicle as Street Modified does. That it is so hard to do is a good thing - it's the constant struggle to improve against the odds against it that makes the whole exercise so worthwhile. If it was easy, everybody would do it.

But the downside is that, more often than not, things do not go well for you. This means that these reports tend to be a litany of problems encountered, potential not realized, and tales of bad luck and woe. Once and a while, all the stars line up and we get to report a win, but for the most part, these race reports are a description of how we "almost won" at yet another event.

Such is the nature of racing. It's not limited to me, either - those of you who follow Formula One, imagine what it must be like to work for McLaren these days (and they have a multi-million dollar budget!) You work hard to get ready for the race, you do your best, and if things go south during the event, you try and focus on the stuff that did go right, so as to maintain motivation for doing it all over again next week.

This season, in particular, has been trying. We've had a lot of bad luck, and broken a lot of stuff. Keeping motivated has been very difficult. And as it turns out, Nationals this year was no different: we started out with a ton of potential, then broke the car and spent the rest of the week scrambling, only to come up empty-handed.

I could relate the whole story, but in light of the past week's other events, somehow telling the world about all the problems we had seems trivial to the point of obscenity. Not 10 minutes before I went out to make my runs for Nationals, I watched the first of the World Trade centre towers collapse onto a sea of emergency vehicles. I watched people, trapped between a fire hot enough to melt steel and an 80 story fall, opt to take their chances with the drop and jump out of windows.

Seen in that light, my problems don't matter. Posting them to the list gives them a gravity they don't deserve.

Someday, later, I'll tell the story. It's not all doom and gloom either; some very good things came out of the experience, the least of which is that I've re-discovered my centre and my motivation for continuing. There is stuff here that deserves to be told.

But not yet.