I think that any racing driver would say that as long as they personally perform well during a race, they can walk away from the event feeling satisfied at some level, regardless of the outcome. Set-up problems, mechanical issues, bad calls from race control and just plain bad luck can all conspire to screw your race and leave you with a bad result and a hollow feeling inside of you. Strangely enough, there are other times you find you and your equipment so superior to your opposition that you win easily and, while you are happy and grateful for the win, after the race you still have that hollow feeling because the win was too easy.
BUT, there are other very rare days at the track where you find yourself on top of your game, your equipment is set up as optimally as possible, and you find yourself racing with four or five other guys who are as equal as you are. The result is that everyone is passing and re-passing for position on virtually every lap of the race and you realize that “Hey, I can win this thing if I don’t blow it!”. The problem is that all the drivers are thinking the same thing, and before you know it, everyone is on the ragged edge, pushing the envelope and dive-bombing each other into turns with desperate out-braking maneuvers, bump drafting, wheel banging, curb hopping…you name it and everybody is doing it. If you are fortunate enough to win a race like that, it is the most unbelievable feeling. Even when you don’t win, you’ve had a blast and can be forgiven for feeling like you just survived World War III. As the great Dario Franchitti once said, “Racing produces the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.” All of us understand what Dario meant when he said it.
To make my point, here is a video from the cockpit of Steve Bamford’s Mygale Honda, competing in the Pro F1600 Championship Series race a couple of weeks ago at Road Atlanta. This is the race that any real, honest to God racing driver wants to drive in. While my words above partially convey what driving in a crazy race is like, just check out Bamford’s video here:
I have no idea who all the players in this race are, but all of them clearly have hitched a ride on the crazy train with some truly ballsy, aggressive moves. It is so good to see this wonderful class, at the Pro-Level at least, treating us to the great racing and driver training that it has such a rich history of providing. Just go to about the four minute mark in the video, put it on full-screen and just enjoy the ride! I look forward to seeing more video from the competitors of the F1600 Championship Series this, but guys (and gals), you’ve been warned: you have a very tough act to follow!