As I sit here on a Lufthansa flight back to Germany and minutes after finishing an in-flight movie about Enzo Ferrari's drivers from the 50' (Race to Immortality; highly recommended), I can't help but feel a flooding of emotion towards the profession of the 'Racing Driver.'
Perhaps its the scotch I snuck onboard. Or maybe it's the past couple weeks crashing on best friend's couches searching for sponsorship to keep this dream alive, to get to the next race.
I'll be the first to say that all work experiences are relative, challenging, and unique in their own right. But having personal experience with over 15 different types of jobs, this racing driver thing has to take the cake.
Btw all the drivers in that Ferrari movie died. That rarely happens now but when you take a step back, it's a funny thing to be working so hard for.
Racing's one of the few dangerous sports left and gets away with it because history has embraced it. Hemingway had an awesome quote:
'There are only three sports. Bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering. All the rest are merely games.'
And he's damn right. Motorsports should always be sexy - dangerous - and fun.
It's been 5 years since throwing myself at this childhood dream. From highlighting racing books to racing a pro series with a top team on the Nurburgring is pretty surreal. And the more I learn about the sport, the more I hear of greats having once called a friend's couch their second home.
I was pretty hesitant making this post as shit's pretty real now. I am gambling everything on making it. Also because I've been told to attract a sponsor I'd need to act a certain way, to put on an image for the fans. But to be honest, I don't think the public is that stupid, certainly not racing fans. GriffeyDreams was started to document this journey and so that's what I'm going to do.
The goal is to become the best sportscar driver in the world. To work as hard as I can. To do the best I can. All the while having as much fun as I can. No regrets on the deathbed sort of deal. But holy shit I can feel some pressure, as I'm sure many others do too at their jobs.
There was a great interview with Jimmie Johnson, a NASCAR great, that I read a few days ago. The piece of advice that he heard most often early in his career was also what he hated hearing the most: "You have to be patient."
At 31, and just at the start of my professional driving career, I can't help but relate to JJ. As the adage goes, making it in racing requires a combination of hard work, a bit of talent, extreme persistence, and luck. I'd also add to the list great mentors and a strong support network.
The lesson from all this dribble?
Money rules the world but doesn't equate to happiness also getting older sucks but not more so than the societal expectations and norms that have been conditioned into each and everyone of us which may sometimes result in self-doubt and hesitance in doing things that we know deep down to be right. Also being a race car driver is a crazy fucking job and I love it.
My final thought for the evening before I pop a melatonin and pretend I don't feel the kid behind me kicking my seat: When flying Lufthansa, hide your booze well - while kind, the German flight attendants have eagle eyes and are total sticklers for the rules (and there's a lot of 'em on Lufthansa).
Germany, I cant wait to see you again. Vielen dank und auf wiedersehen, zur zeit!