Earnest Hemingway once said that "Mountaineering, Motorsports, and Bull Fighting were the only real sports, everything else is just games". KInda have to agree but seing what the kids are doing with skateboarding may change that for me.
It's good to have friends. Friends make life better and the world a better place, according to the shy owl collective, at least. Well, I have a dear friend who works for Indy Car, and she hooked us up for the Indy Car test weekend in Phoenix. Not open to the general public, it's a shake out weekend for the drivers, teams, and Indy Car, before the race season begins in a few weeks. In addition to pit crews and drivers, there were about 50 hangers on like me. My friend gave me a little Sunoco pit cone sign and a sharpie to get autographs from the drivers. I'm not really an autograph guy, but she assured me it was harmless and encouraged. So I got a couple.
I am a life long fan of fast. Better bearings for the skateboard to go faster, yes please. Better chain rings to make the BMX bike go faster, 12 speed bikes to 28 speed bikes, led to motors, motorcycles, and anything that goes. Fast. There are few things more fun than watching a race from the infield. I've done it for NASCAR, Formula 1, Grand Prix, and Indy, and it doesn't get more live than being on eye level with the driver. The sound, vibration, and percussion from the speed are soothing to me and make me a happy man.
After watching Indy cars spin the track for about an hour at 190 MPH, from the pit wall, a mere few feet from the track. I had to use the men's room. We walked away from the track and after rounding the press building we entered a sort of courtyard. An older gentlemen was walking in our direction on the same path. As he got closer, he looked extremely familiar, a face I have seen a thousand times. Who is this guy? As he gets closer I realize exactly who he is. He is The Legend, The Master of Racing, and one of my personal idols and heroes. Mario Andretti. Alone. In the flesh. I extend my hand and let him know how big of a fan I was. In that moment approximately one million questions and thoughts raced through my tiny brain. And I could articulate none. I ham-fisted my little autograph sign at him with a sharpie and dumbly mumbled for an autograph and a picture. I had Mario Andretti's undivided attention for one minute and I wasted it on an autograph and a photo. Oh well, at least I have evidence of my mistake. Oh the questions I should have asked. Fave car ever? Daily driver? Fave Indy driver right now? Best racing motor? Fave food? Fave movie? Biggest regret? Cherished accomplishment? Do you want another son? Sorry, dad. It's Mario freaking Andretti. Super nice guy and put up with my awkward hero worship. Not an autograph guy but man am I glad my friend gave me that little sign to get signed. I am keeping that thing visible forever.