Happy new year! 2017 is upon us and I think it has plenty of good things in store! Apparently dumping snow on a daily basis was top priority and met with a great deal of continuing success…
First post of the new year. What a year 2016 was. One for the ages, without question. Finally determined that I wasn’t quite as good at drinking as I thought so I gave it up on February 23, 2016 and have been working to get and stay sober ever since. Quite the adventure. The amount of learning coupled with the support of some known and some previously unknown well wishers has led to a great new way of thinking and ultimately, living. Good people want to see others succeed and being surrounded by so many good people proves that on a daily basis. THANK YOU ALL!!!!
There is the mushy stuff. Now let’s get to the business of explaining that snowy tire and why traction is so precious.
The title is something my Dad said to me back in the car racing days. Some of my favorite memories come from the year we raced. Little did I know that life lessons were being taught and learned while having fun racing with and against Dad.
Short track racing is an aggressive sport that requires an incredibly light touch, finesse, strategy, patience and horsepower. Lots and lots of delicious horsepower. Dad made sure the engine he built for my car had horsepower to spare, I just had to come up with all the other stuff. On the job training at race pace!
One particularly hot summer day, we were at the track early practicing and working on our car set ups. 85 and sunny. No breeze. Wearing a Nomex fire suit and full-face helmet while strapped in to a black and red race car with a boiling hot engine at my feet and the exhaust running inches from my right side. Hell yes it’s fun! Never kept track of how many pounds of water weight we lost each race but it was substantial. Out on the track we go. Always 5 to 10 warm up laps to get engine and tires up to temp then it’s literally off to the races. My car would usually turn better than Dad’s but he could get on the gas sooner. Made for some great but frustrating dog fights! This day, my car wouldn’t let me get on the gas OR turn. We did our practice laps and headed for the pits. We were both hot but one of us was pissed right off. I’m guessing that there were probably other things on my mind but memory fails me.
“What was wrong out there? Why weren’t you keeping up?”, said Dad.
“I’m guessing it’s because I am driving the piece of shit old car and you are driving the brand new one you had built specifically for this track.”, said idiot son.
“Nothing to do with the loose nut behind the wheel?”, said Dad.
“@#$&%* and $#&%* and *%$&#@$&+ yourself…”, said idiot son.
Smiling, Dad pulled me aside, away from the crew. A quick lesson ensued.
“You are hot, your car is hot and the track is hotter. Your engine is coming on the power curve at a different rpm than you are used to because of the temp and humidity. Your tires are boiling tread off every lap because the more angry you get, the more you abuse them. Based on your driving style, you will be buying new tires before the night is out. Traction is precious. It’s your best friend out there. You can’t turn without it and you certainly can’t use the horsepower you have. Right now it’s bad, do you think is going to get easier when all the other cars are fighting for the exact same spot you want? Lots of adjustments on that “old piece of shit” that you are driving for fun. Want some help?”
Geeze, Dad. When do I get to stop learning and just “know stuff” like him…
What the heck does that story have to do with sobriety? Racing cars is surely not the best activity for serenity seekers. Peace be with you while I pass you on the inside and leave a bit of my paint for you to remember this moment by…
Coming off a years long bender, my “tires” were shot. The track of life was hotter than I’d ever experienced. I wasn’t concerned with finessing my way back on track, I was just using horsepower to push my way through. The problem with that style of “racing” is that I almost hit the wall so hard that I couldn’t walk away from the crash. It wasn’t a sustainable way to live.
Now my “pit crew” consists not only of friends and family, but the people of AA. Now I am constantly making adjustments to my “chassis” so I can steer better. I am getting more adept at applying throttle when I feel traction. Not that I don’t spin my tires from time to time, but it’s easier to judge it now. If my car is turning into that “old piece of shit” I can pull into the pits of AA and there is a table of experts (Old Timers) ready and willing to help, whether it’s fine tuning or starting from baseline setup of “one day at a time”. There are still people that are competing for the same spot and that’s OK. Some are people that want help and some are just assholes. It’s fun “racing” with the people that want help, they push me to focus and be a better driver.
Now when you feel a bump just before we enter the turn, it’s just me letting you know I’m there, not trying to power you out of the way. Traction IS precious.