Being a successful race car driver begins with family because without family to back and support you you have nothing. Sure racing is in our blood and it's our love of racing that keeps us young, healthy and always striving to obtain new goals. It is this striving to obtain new goals that transcends over into our daily lives whether it be work or our family lives. In the same breath we learn how much we value live and our families as well. In my opinion race car drivers for obvious reasons tend to appreciate each moment more so than others who tend to take precious moments for granted. Does this mean we are any better off than others? Of course not, we just tend to push ourselves past what some consider "comfortable" or "acceptable" zones.
I have been blessed to have such a family that has always accepted my love of cars and racing. That same acceptance has been carried over to include everyone in my family not to mention my employees as well. I have found over the years that this love and respect of racing and all things automotive helps even my employees feel more like family than just someone who punches a time-clock. Employees who become involved in team events seem to have a much higher self esteem and pride than those who do not and it shows around the workplace and at the track. Having my family involved with racing over the years had brought us closer together and it has been something that we can share on the same level. Both of my children have equally found it rewarding to learn how to become self reliant with their ability to learn their own limits and find ways to dominate fellow competitors. Both have sought not only to set higher goals for themselves but have also learned when their goals are not realistic. All in all, the rewards of having a supportive family who shares equally in the ups and downs of racing has been far more rewarding than any trophy or position on any podium.
This brings me to another category of those involved with my racing... my friends. Like any other venture or hobby, we all have friends... Those we can count on and those we can not. And then there are those whom we respect and those whom don't deserve it. This brings me to one of my friends whom has been on my mind all week. Some racers are so addicted to racing that they tend to find excuses for the need to be at the track. Quite often some such excuses help a driver make a fool out of himself. Over the last year one of my best friends and fellow teammates expressed his desire to race in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill and he did everything in his power to reach that opportunity. There were many reasons behind his desire to run this race but understand it was paramount and his emotions were high. A few weeks ago he was taken on by a team to be co-driver in that very race and all the arrangements were made. Needless to say, he was stoked and I was just as excited as him since he is an awesome racer and fierce competitor and more than deserving of such an opportunity.
There are men and there are men but some men think with their brains or what little they have while other's think with their heart knowing full well right from wrong. This individual proved he was the later. On Friday morning when my friend was leaving for the track with duffle bag in hand he stopped to kiss his wife and baby goodbye for what they knew would be a long weekend but then the phone rang. Little did he know when that phone rang just how long that weekend was going to be. The phone call was not a welcome one at all as it carried some bad news regarding my friend's mother in law. Now in my opinion this is where he showed his true colors. I have known men who at this very instance would have began asking themselves, "How will we handle this? Who should I call? After all I will only be gone a couple days and besides all the arrangements have been made. I have to go." But none of these thoughts even entered his mind and he knew there was no decision to be made whatsoever. He was staying at home and there wasn't even anything to consider. Within a few moments he had called my son to take his place in the 25 Hours Of Thunderhill and simply said, "Make me proud."
I couldn't be more proud to call this individual my friend and judging by the example he sets and the standards he adheres to both as a family man, an individual and a friend I can honestly say I made the perfect selection. This man in Jon Emerson, my friend and navigator and co-driver in next years La Carrera Panamericana. I tip my hat to you Jon and my family and I send our prayers and thought to both your wife and mother in law and you.