2010 Thoughts on the Race Diary

It is now the spring of 2010. Not counting an impromptu autocross through Camp Nathan Smith in downtown Kandahar City (I invited BT for a grudge match but he was in Kabul and wisely unwilling to travel south) I have not turned a cone-dodging wheel in anger for a little less than five years.

Oh, I still go out Karting once and a while, and I have my street car to futz around with. I continue to update Autocross to Win whenever I get the chance (there's still plenty of secrets still locked inside my noodle) and I continue to socialize with any number of the amazing friends Niner and I made during our racing days, but for the most part, that is a chapter of my life that is closed.

I have no regrets, (save one) either for getting involved or for stopping when I did. Both decisions were the right thing to do at the time ("starting" is perhaps a little harder to justify than "stopping") and I am satisfied with my accomplishments. We, as a team, had far more success than we had any right to enjoy, and the friendships we made are for life. What's not to be happy about?

But the Team Diary section of the website had long stood incomplete, and that had been nagging on me for a while. So I took the opportunity of a website presentation layer update to go through the Diary and fill in as many missing blanks as I could.

Perhaps it is worth explaining where this all came from, and why I felt it needed to be completed.

In 1997 I got a job with Chrysler Corporation - not "DaimlerChrysler"; that came later - as one of their webmonkeys. Along with the job came the opportunity to lease a Chrysler product at a discount, and I had always wanted an Eagle Talon as I had encountered one when racing my first few autocrosses with the Calgary Sports Car Club in 1993 or so. Very shortly after taking delivery of the car, I encountered the Talon Digest; a email mailing list dedicated to Talon/Eclipse owners. Very soon after I joined the Digest, I encountered the Detroit SCCA.

The car was barely two months old before it was entered in the Detroit SCCA Season Opener Regional autocross, and the very next day, a Race Report was posted to the Talon Digest about my exploits.

This was an exercise in pure vanity. I was having fun with my new car, I was doing something different from the usual (drag racing and street racing) and I wanted to be special. Who doesn't? The whole purpose of life is to accumulate stories to tell to your buddies and I was very much into telling stories - especially stories where I get to be the hero.

If I had started in 2010, I'd've probably started a WordPress Blog.

But then the unexpected happened - I wound up walking the path of the SCCA National-level competitor, and with that, transformed into something... else. The Talon Digest posts stopped being so much an exercise in vanity, and became more about promotion. Promotion of my sponsors (who got precious little promotion through SCCA channels even when we were winning championships) promotion of the sport when it seemed nobody else would even try, promotion of motorsports in a controlled and safe environment instead of public streets, promotion of sportsmanship and camaraderie instead of winning at all costs ("no weenies!") - and certainly still a healthy dose of self-promotion, there's no denying that.

My story started turning into the story of Street Modified, and the band of crazies that took it upon themselves to see it turned into a Real Live National Class; a Real Boy, Pinocchio! Certainly told from my perspective and serving my own interests to a large degree, the Race Diary is every bit as much about Kent Rafferty and Karl Witt and Bob Tunnel and Vic Sias and Fedja the Unspellable and Mark Daddio and Dave Shotz and all the rest of those competitors as it is about me.

And this I find very, very important - because two of those people are no longer with us. I may still be writing my own stories, but Kent Rafferty and Chris Lindberg have reached the end of their books. There will be no more new stories about Kent laying down another blistering performance when Karen's times got a little too close for comfort. There are no more new stories about a calm word from Chris recasting a bad day in a whole different light (or about inadvertent visual exposure to a leopard print thong recasting other things in a completely different light). Totally by accident, through no intention of my own, I have captured a tiny part of their lives and preserved it in a means where someone who never knew them (or someone who did) can get some small sense of what it was like to be their friend.

Which brings me to that one regret I mentioned earlier.

I wish I had done more! For all the stories captured here, there are so many events left unreported on. Occasions skipped. Hijinks that should have been recorded, but were not. Acts of kindness, acts of sportsmanship, acts of rage and anger and despair and love that I witnessed and enjoyed and failed to record - and subsequently lost.

Many of those stories invariably come out when a bunch of us come together... but not all of us can, anymore.

These stories shouldn't be lost. Kent and Chris deserve better.

So when you're reading this - especially the early stuff, when I kick out howlers on a regular basis... it ain't about me. It's about US.

Go tell the Spartans.


April 19, 2010