You can’t test your route running skills against Clay Matthews, you can’t play a round with Tiger Woods and LeBron James isn’t going to play a game of half court with you. Racing is the last wide open sport where privateers can still compete with the best in the world, and this is why I love racing.
I love that a team of disabled British Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans finished the Dakar Rally. Men who were missing arms and legs put together an independent effort, Race2Recovery and competed in what is probably the toughest race in the world and they kept going despite some incredible challenges as the Daily Telegraph tells us.
On day five of the event, tragedy struck when one of the supporting team cars was involved in a head-on collision with a local taxi, in which two of the occupants in the taxi died, and the three team members needed to be airlifted to hospital. Later in the rally both of the team’s eight-wheeler support trucks encountered major reliability problems, and even the final Wildcat suffered numerous issues, not least of which was that it frequently overheated in the desert sun, causing (Major Matt) O’Hare and (Corporal Phillip) Gillespie to tackle many of the stages at night.
This team of combat veterans raced against teams with corporate backing and budgets in the millions and finished 91st! Okay, technically they were at the last car across the finish line, but they finished, which about half of the cars that started out can’t say that.
Literally they started with a few guys with an idea and it grew from there. The BBC’s Top Gear threw them some love, and former “Stig” Ben Collins provided driving instruction. A number of British nonprofits, including the Royal Family, contributed to their efforts and what started as an idea became a real thing.
Let’s say you want to get your team of your friends together and compete in March Madness. You can’t do that, but in racing you can.
When the Great One comes to write against your name; He’ll write not whether you won or lost, but how you played the game.
— Race2Recovery (@Race2Recovery) January 23, 2013
Whether it’s the plucky Brits who saw this incredibly challenging race and said “I want to do that,” or any of the private teams running an old chassis in the Baja 100, amateur entries in the 24 Hours of Daytona or 24 Hours of Le Mans, only in racing can you test yourself against the best. Marty Roth — as much as I didn’t care for him — became a driver as a second career. Sure, Marty Roth redefined the phrase “Mobile Chicane,” but you have to admire the pluck that he had to race at Indy.
Racing is full of underdogs, some successful, some not. Bryan Herta and Dan Wheldon wining the 2011 Indy 500, Alan Kulwicki winning the 1992 Winston Cup Championship, Jensen Button’s unpredictable 2009 World Championship, just to name a few. To put the magnitude of some of these wins, imagine a Triple-A baseball team winning the World Series, because that’s what has happened in racing before, and will happen again. This is why I love racing.