Saturday, May 24, 2014

The beauty of being passionate: Five Questions for Charlotte

Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images
I had to write a speech.

Sitting in front of my laptop for the umpteenth time, my mind was blank. I could hear the gears grinding, trying to make something happen. Every insignificant distraction --the ticking clock, our oven’s timer, a distant bird warbling away-- jumped into the foreground, derailing my train of thought.

I mocked myself, wondering how a writer couldn’t find anything to say. I decided to attempt a recovery:

“My fellow classmates--”

Oh God, what was I writing, the presidential address? Backspace, backspace, train of thought bursts into flames.

Being the salutatorian of my graduating class is an honor, yet it was becoming a hassle. I knew this was a huge deal for both me and my family, and I wanted to do it right. This included finding the correct words to say, an ability that I lacked as soon as I opened the document.

My class rank is a byproduct of hard work and a creeping asphyxiation. The looming walls of my small town moved inward with each passing year, fueling my desire to crash through them. I couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to leave, and I set my sights on the South. As I realized that writing about NASCAR was my calling, moving closer to its core made sense.

I’ve been criticized by classmates because of my urge to leave, especially when they hear about out-of-state tuition rates. They can’t grasp how I can abandon the town I’ve lived in for all my eighteen years. They don’t get it.

The price of my education is both daunting and nauseating. I know exactly what I’m getting myself into, and I’m content. Why? Because I’m following my passion.

In whatever you do, you must do it with passion. Even if you aspire to be an elephant rider, you better ride the heck out of that magnificent mammal. When people are obsessively enthusiastic about something, anything, my heart grows. They turn into different animals. I’ll gab with you about the weather, politics, what have you, but you can’t shut me up when it comes to racing. I’ve seen shy folks morph into motor mouths once you hit that spot. To me, that’s beautiful.

Not enough people follow their passions, and that’s why it’s so odd that I’m chasing mine all the way to the University of South Carolina. I have a hotbed of opportunities there, ones I’m thankful that exist. I have a chance to tap into my potential, and that can’t happen here in Ohio, in my town.

I had to write a speech. What could I say to those who doubted me?

The words came and planted themselves on the page. Memories. The past. Achievements. The future. I told them to spread their wings and fly wherever their hearts desired. I told them to experience as much as they could in all their years.

I told them to be passionate. I hope you are, as well.

Racing is also very passionate, and there’s a lot of it going on this weekend. As I throw my Five Questions out there, I’m talking about the All-Star race, Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch, and other things as Charlotte Motor Speedway leaps center-stage.

Who from the All-Star race will be a factor Sunday night? The exhibition race is for both entertainment and gaining an advantage. It was at night, a quality shared with the Coca Cola 600. This makes it a great indicator for who will be competitive in the actual race. Of course, Jamie McMurray tops this list; the winner was fast, and his connection with crew chief Keith Rodden really shined through. They’ll be a threat. Aside from that, other contenders will include Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, and Brad Keselowski. There’s always room for a surprise winner, but these four should definitely be on your fantasy roster.

Are more stand-alone events in the Nationwide Series’ future? While the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series had fun in Charlotte, the NASCAR Nationwide Series crew hung out in Iowa Speedway. They raced last Sunday, and it was a beautiful sight. No Cup guys? Racing galore? Oh my. It was almost too much to handle. The track was packed with fans, and that’s a result of being a stand-alone event. The ticket matters more, and the fans knew they’d get more bang for their buck. Will this turnout result in more stand-alone events in the future? Hopefully.

What should we make out of Patrick’s Kansas finish? Last weekend’s endeavor at Kansas Speedway was fantastic, and it yielded many interesting results. One of them was Patrick’s seventh-place finish. WHOA. No matter how you slice it, this is a big deal. Also, her qualifying efforts are consistently getting better. She’s getting sick of the naysayers; even though she claims they don’t bother her, it has to be in her head somewhere that people think she isn’t good enough. She’s starting to shine, and when Danica Patrick shines, everyone will experience the glare.

Is there a greater weekend than this one? Let’s get back to this weekend, and I’m not just focusing on the Coca Cola 600. Two other great races are taking place. The Monaco Grand Prix is broadcasted early on Sunday morning, a competitive F1 event seen on NBC. Then, the afternoon is dominated by the Indianapolis 500, the greatest race in motorsports, shown on ABC. After the milk is chugged, it’s finally time for NASCAR to jump into the spotlight over on Fox. Not only is there amazing racing, but it’s also Memorial Day weekend. Please take time to honor our military. NASCAR is dedicated to it and makes a conscious effort to emphasize its patriotism. America and racing come together to create an awesome event. There’s nothing better.

Does Kurt Busch succeed in The Double? To give a detailed answer, we have to know what ‘succeed’ means. Some think that finishing both races qualifies as success, while a win in either race is a cause for others to celebrate. I’m somewhere in the middle; being competitive is a win. My faith in Busch is wholehearted, and I have a feeling he can get a top ten at the Indianapolis 500. Great equipment, decent feel for the car, determined spirit? That can propel him to the top in both races. This is a make-or-break time for the driver, who has millions of eyes on him with this deal. When someone has something to prove to others, it’s nerve-wracking. When someone has something to prove to themselves? It’s almost a situation of life or death. What Busch is doing won’t only impact his inner-workings as a racer, but it can affect his image. We all know the public’s perception of him was in shreds, but the NASCAR community seems to be rallying around The Double idea. I believe that, no matter how he does, his image will be influenced positively. In that, he will succeed.


  1. Sorry but, "Who from the All-Star race will be a factor Sunday night?" should maybe be, who from the all star race fan vote that had their opportunity stolen might be a factor? lol #Kidding. No, really... Crossing my fingers for another great run.