The Time of Legends is Past
I know this is supposed to be about our race effort, but I think this topic is both pertinent and relevant so here is how this is going to go down…Im going to get out my soapbox and rant a bit and in return, ill never tell anyone about that trip to Vegas or why you needed those pills…deal? I thought so.
So last night I sat down to watch LeMans with Steve McQueen and, of course since I’m a complete petrol-head, i was in 120 minutes of ecstasy, but as I was watching it I started taking notice of all the little things, and I’m not referring to plot subtleties (there is almost no plot) but rather the differences in what motivated the characters in the movie and how they carried themselves. What I am referring to here is the insatiable drive for achievement. To race for the sake of racing and compete for the sake of competing, even if no sponsorship or big dollar endorsement is on the line. This is of course not unique to this film, but it is a theme that is carried out amongst all the truly great films for those of us with a touch of pre-mix in our blood and carries over to real life for those with a thirst to go 1 inch farther just for the sake of it, or 1 mile faster just because. One has to recognize the willingness of these men to drive what were basically road-going missiles equipped with only the barest safety features and the most rudimentary understanding of aerodynamics and take them at over 230mph through a circuit composed of country roads, and this is no fiction, this is the truth of motorsports past. This was our concord moment, the zenith of endurance racing lunacy, achievement for the sake of achievement and the moment at which speed and safety met at their most polar of opposites.
The profit motive has become too deeply ingrained in our psyche and it has caused us to lose our adventurer spirit. Its easier to sell an image than the genuine article and Its far easier to subsist on the low hanging fruit because its safe and practical, and we are now taught from such a young age to do what is safe and prudent, and that perception matters as much as reality; while at the same time we, deep down, crave the hairy-chested, white knuckled glory we have been sold growing up. Sadly we have not been given the tools to go seeking it, nor been equipped to cope with the emotions you will encounter on such a journey. This is the real tragedy; to us the illusion has become our reality because we are afraid to ask for more. We wax intellectual on Internet forums about our prowess, and are perfectly content to stand about the pit on a track day discussing the handling characteristics of cars rather than exploring them at their limits. These same people will spend countless thousands modifying a car in the name of speed, without ever actually asking more of it than the factory intended. This is masturbation in its most expensive form.
What does all this hyperbole mean? It means the greatest moments in our achievement may already be behind us. Yep think about that and let it sink in for a second. Our desire to achieve is leaving us, and being replaced with a desire to be comfortable. We may continue to do great things, but we no longer stand on the shoulders of our lunatic fore-fathers gazing at the sky and dreaming of the day we will get our own set of Icarus’ wax wings, but instead we look to our shoulders and question how we can make the men standing at them 1 inch shorter.
Give us back our chance for greatness. Stop regulating things “For our safety”. Give us a wavier, and let those with the divine spark of insanity strive for that greatness again and inspire the next generation. This is where it begins. This is the paper airplane that will one day inspire space travel again in a profit-be-damned kind of way. Yea you, reading this, go do something great, even if its only great to you. You might be amazed what you learn and inspire by doing instead of watching.
Heroes and legends are some of the more powerful icons we can have growing up. They inspire us to unrealistic and superhuman standards. Don’t let them die.