Topic: NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER SURRENDER! Speedy's guide to success in adversity
I was lying in bed last night, unable to sleep, dreading the 0430 alarm for work this morning. I started thinking about Infineon, and what a rush it was to cruise around the pits Friday night in our Michael Jackson costumes in the graveyard-themed V8olvo blaring "Thriller", with a sizeable dead tree sticking out of our roof. We only did that for maybe 40 minutes to an hour total. We later wrenched for 24 hours straight during the weekend to build a replacement 302 for the one that blew on the third lap. This was after wrenching for several days prior to Infineon to install the first replacement engine. All that hard work and frustration for all of us, all that money spent to fly out, replace the engine TWICE in one weekend, buy a new starter/radiator/water pump/ignition/alternator/etc, and I only got three laps in my own car (and I was towed back in on two of them). Yet what do I think about when I relive the memories of that weekend?
The absolute blast we had cruising the pits! The way people scrambled to get their cameras (some literally ran) to take a picture of the absurd spectacle of a racecar with a big dead tree strapped to the rollcage, shedding leaves as it passed, deafening them with a Michael Jackson classic. The elation we felt when the replacement engine we had assembled in the predawn hours roared to life in the morning.
So we traded on-track stories for undercar stories---we still have stories to tell! We may not have gotten the seat time we hoped for, but I can't relive that weekend without a smile on my face. The nightmare is over. The grueling wrenching session paid off, well enough to get each driver out on the track at least once. There are Lemons drivers that go home without ever getting to turn a lap at pretty much every single race. There are teams that give up in the first few hours, without even bothering to exhaust every possibility to fix their broken racecar. I offer them this advice:
1) You gotta fix a broken racecar anyway.
You have extra hands to help with the repairs, plenty of tools available in the paddock, plenty of knowledgeable people around, and plenty more who will stand around offering moral support (and beer). Unless you had previously decided it was the last hurrah for the car, and no additional efforts or money would be spent on it, get greasy already!
2)Your team is there to race, not to spectate or go home early.
Whether you are team captain, a team member, or just an onlooker, anyone can be the inspiration to a dejected team who wants to throw in the towel. Nothing helps a discouraged team like a stranger walking up and offering to jump in and assist with the repairs.
3) You each paid good money to be there. Make the most of it.
Some of the best memories you will ever have of racing will be of overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles and getting back on track. The fondest Lemons memory I have is of being push-started in third gear after 16 hours of wrenching and welding to convert an extinct fried 1963 Cruise-O-Matic MX three speed automatic into a direct-drive driveshaft. We had no idea if it was possible, yet we knew we had no alternative but to try. The overwhelming emotion I felt at seeing the standing ovation our efforts received as I lapped the track still chokes me up a bit two years later. A clean, well-executed pass after a hard-fought battle can be a fond memory, but unless it was at the finish line for the win, I doubt it will have the same effect on you years afterward.
4) You might not come away empty-handed.
You MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN. Whether it's I Got Screwed, Organizer's Choice, Most Heroic Fix, or some other piece of welded junk awarded to you in front of your peers, winning anything in Lemons is a truly great feeling. You can't win if you pack up and go home. You gotta make the effort first, then stick around for the awards ceremony. TRUST ME, it's worth it.
5) Your team will have a better reputation in future races.
Arrive-and-drives don't want to take a chance paying good money to run with a team that loads the trailer and goes home early on Saturday. For that matter, teammates often elect not to return after a bad experience, or seek out another team instead. If you know you will keep racing Lemons, you need to maintain a never-say-die attitude. It will pay off in the long run.
These are the nuggets of wisdom I have gleaned in more than twenty Lemons races, fielding 11 different cars in various configurations. I firmly believe that your actions in the face of adversity speak volumes about your character, and while you might be labeled a nutcase, as I have been, it will be the good kind of nutcase, the one you call a friend to their face with a broad grin, and not the straightjacketed, heavily medicated, involuntarily hospitalized kind. Future Legends of Lemons, I challenge YOU to heed this sage advice:
NEVER GIVE UP!!!
Future Fleet: 1957 Ford Prefect 1942 Buick 1959 Bugeye Project GLCOAT