The Passion of Racing
By Ryan Westman
The roar of the engine as it reverberates off of nearby city buildings, the art of passing as quick as a cobra’s strike, the patience, the persistence, the passion: this is racing. For as long as I can remember, I have been attending racing events around the globe. From Formula 1 to NASCAR, weekend warriors on the dirt track, short ovals in the corn fields of Indiana to F1 greats on the legendary, winding streets of Monaco, I have seen it all. These experiences have not just molded an interest in the sport but have also become the fabric of my life. Racing is my passion.
I grew up in Indiana, and the two hour car ride to Indianapolis was a pilgrimage my father and I made every year. Walking into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, gazing down the 5/8- mile straightaway out onto 300,000 race fans, brings peace to the soul; you realize you are not the only one with the “bug.” Then it happens. Seemingly, out of nowhere, and then gone again for another 40 seconds; the whole place becomes as silent as the early May-morning dew clinging to the infield grass. The howl, the roar, the scream. No adjective does it justice but trust me, it gives you goose bumps. It gets inside you and once it is inside you, you can’t shake it.
Those who don’t understand the allure of racing may just interpret the sport as cars going around in circles. You don’t see what you don’t understand. Non-believers in the sport don’t see the meticulous engineering it takes to trim out the car and generate the down force to run at 230 mph. Did you know that an IndyCar generates enough down force or reverse lift that it could drive upside down at 150 mph? Maybe it’s that they don’t see the fuel conservation and intricate strategy required to win the race. Or perhaps they are unbeknownst to the team aspect and how even a minor mishap on a pit stop can cost a team its chances at victory. Perhaps, if they appreciated the danger every driver assumes when he gets inside the car, knowing that the Speedway has claimed 15 lives. Perhaps, if they were cognizant of the grueling, physical toll that the 2.5-hour race takes on a driver, who stands to lose an average of 5 pounds each race. I once asked Ironman and 10- time Indy 500 participant, Vitor Meira, “what is more difficult: an Ironman or the Indy 500?” Definitive in his answer, he responded, “the 500!”