Human nature has always been driven by competition, especially the quest to see who is the fastest. From the Greek Olympics to Roman chariots, From steeple chases to the Triple Crown, From the first time two horseless carriages tested each others mettle, To today’s high tech racing machines, man has an innate desire to out duel his competitors in tests of speed. I imagine that it takes a certain mentality to rise to the top of such a game. After all, skill will take one only so far. Mindset is what makes winners. As it has been said, maybe race car drivers are wired differently.
Two of these men have been in the news this week; one to end a career, the other to soldier on in the face of adversity.
Dario Franchitti became interested in racing in the mid 80’s, rising through the ranks of various European circuits, eventually landing a ride with Hogan Racing in the PPG/CART series in 1997. In 2000, he suffered a heavy crash which ended his season. In 2003, he moved with Andretti Green Racing to the IndyCar series, but an injured back due to a motorcycle crash ended his year. In 2007, he survived two massive crashes, each one seeing him flip upside down. And yet he still managed to strap into the cockpit, and his focus won him 21 races, 57 podiums, 23 poles , 3 Indianapolis 500 races, and 4 IndyCar Championships with Chip Ganassi Target Racing. Oh, and he also competed in NASCAR and sports car racing.
Then at the 2013 race in Houston, Franchitti collided with Takuma Sato on the final lap, sending him into the turn five catch fence. The crash injured 13 spectators, and he suffered a spinal fracture, ankle fracture, and concussion. After a month of tests and treatment by some of the best physicians in the world, it was determined that to the risk of detrimental injury in a future crash was too great. Dario Franchitti announced his retirement on November 14.2013.
Trevor Bayne is an up and coming NASCAR driver. Just 22 years old, he as been steadily climbing the ranks, beginning with karting, moving into the lower series, eventually driving for the likes of DEI, Michael Waltrip, Jack Rousch , and the Wood brothers. It was with the latter that he reached the highlight of his career to date; becoming the youngest winner of the Daytona 500 in 2011.
In 2012, Bayne was hospitalized for 5 weeks with a mystery disease that was originally diagnosed as Lyme disease. Earlier this year, he determined to find out the true cause. In June it he was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He has been cleared to race, and will continue undeterred.
Two drivers. One, a multi-time champion forced to retire, and we can assume that if he could continue, he would. The other, a young gun determined to make his mark, despite what could become a debilitating illness. Both driven to be faster than the other guys. Both single mindedly pursuing their dreams. Both apparently wired differently.
So, what’s your excuse?