Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why We Do It...

When you’re ten years old, everything in the world seems new and exciting. Your dreams are endless and you feel as though you could do anything. As you get older, your dreams may get more grounded, but you are always in search of that excitement you felt as a kid.

The fact that you’re reading One Hot Lap means you’ve likely found performance driving, or even just the simple act of driving, to provide that same sense of joy and even invulnerability you once felt as a kid. This is not to say that racers are impervious to the risks involved in motorsports. It's just that there is a particular happiness found in straddling the limits of adhesion overpowering any potential for injury that may exist.

It’s like any other activity that an adrenaline-thirsty, slightly mad individual might engage in for a thrill; be it skydiving, mountain climbing or even a “spirited” ride on a motorcycle. You don’t do these things because they’re safe, but because they preserve that feeling you had as a kid. There are risks involved in everything we do, but we can’t stop living life just because something might happen.

Racing is a dangerous sport. Just ask David Besnard (video above) or Mark Webber:

Every racing driver knows this and has had a conversation with themselves and their families of whether it’s all worth it. We live in a time where it’s easy to take for granted the level of safety that is available to us. Barnaby Conrad (a writer of the same era as Hemingway and a San Francisco raconteur) once said that "There are but three true sports--bullfighting, mountain climbing, and motor-racing. The rest are merely games." This may seem like a thing of the past until an accident like that of Dan Wheldon's reminds us how dangerous racing can be (no, I will not link to the footage of his tragic death here.)

I know the recent events won't stop me from enjoying motorsports or going to a track day. It's the life I chose and I am ready to accept the risks that come with it. I will, however, think twice before getting to brave down some desolate back roads in the middle of the night again...or going to the track in a convertible without a roll cage...