Gateway International Raceway, just down the street from the beautiful city of St. Louis. My new job as a sales and technical rep. has given my the opportunity to travel the circuit, hone my skills as a brake specialist and most importantly zoom-out from the race car and just look around.
My weekend in St. Louis was great. It was fantastic to be back in the garage with all of the Harrys. But this weekend was different for me. I got to "zoom-out" and look around at
what we all get to do for a living. I spent a lot of time just taking it all in. Most of my time was spent on pit road, monitoring brake temperatures. I caught myself in a daze. I stood and watched the cars scream off turn four. I have been doing this for eight years now and it all seemed new to me. Its exciting. Its breath-taking. I am in love with the sport again.
When final practice concluded I picked my things up and headed back to the garage. As I walked past the infield fence there was a little girl with her Dad, she was probably 10 years old. She looked at me and gave me a shy wave. Emotions rushed through my chest. I waved back and gave her a smile. I hope that she was thinking the same thinking that I was thinking15 years ago, "Girls do this? Can I do this? Dad, Can I do this?" For all I know, she probably thought I was Danica Patrick (just 2 feet taller, and 30lbs heavier)
The time I spent away from my career as a mechanic may have been the best learning experience of my life. I had grown spoiled. My transition into the world of NASCAR was not a hard fought battle. Everything kind of just came to me. Fast forward eight years later and I was a bitching, angry, nothings fair, no one knows what they are doing, mechanic. I didn't even realize it at the time. I was writing a blog about the sport that I said I loved and then bitching about it.
I believe as mechanics we get tunnel vision. The long stretch of race weekends run together and the romanticism of the sport we once loved, begins to wear thin. Sadly, we begin to just go through the motions: tech, practice, qualify, load-up, go home. Everything seems to zoom in. The love for the sport fades fast, frustrations run high and then it's "on to the next one."
For the past two months I have been on the outside looking in, begging for an opportunity to get back on the other side of the fence. I remember now why I love it. And I also know why I began to hate it. It is safe to say that my career and I took a break from one another. During that break I realized that I love this life, I love the stress, I love my career. I just need to take more time to "Zoom-Out"