Monday, November 21, 2011

Life lessons I've learned from NASCAR

Lessons I've learned as a NASCAR fan, and writer. I believe everyone could benefit from these lessons in their day to day lives.

In the past two years, I've grown fonder of the wonderful world of auto-sports. I've learned a lot this year, and I feel closer to the sport then I've ever felt to anything I've done in my past. Sure, I'm still a fitness enthusiast and I still feel passionate about working out, yoga, running and all things exercise related. As a fitness competitor, I learned a lot about myself, commitment, hard work, self-motivation, self-discipline, and self-respect. These lessons have helped me in many ways in my life, but the lessons I've learned just being a committed NASCAR writer, and fan, are more valuable than I expected, I’d like to share these with you.

 I mean it from the bottom of my heart, everyone can learn from this.

It's not where you start, it's where you finish.
In a race, drivers qualify for their starting position. Although it's awesome to start the race on the pole, there is no guarantee that you'll finish first. Although starting up front is beneficial, and you may have an advantage to staying up front, sometimes starting in the lead takes a lot more energy. You can get caught up in wrecks; you can even blow an engine. 
In life, starting on top does not always guarantee finishing on top. Sometimes, you need to work for what you have and if you're always running in first, not passing drivers, or working to move ahead, what lessons are you really learning?
The historical Championship win by Tony Stewart is proof that working to make it to the top is sweet. He had nothing to lose from his starting point. At the beginning of the Chase season (also known as the ‘play off’ season for you non-NASCAR fans), he didn’t believe he deserved to be in the Chase, and told media he was taking someone's chance to win the title. From that point on, Stewart went on to win back to back races, he won four before the season finale and then, he won the last race to tie the points, and because he won the other 4 races, he won the Cup title. Had he wallowed in misery about his lousy season and the fact that he started the Chase behind the other 12 drivers he would’ve lost. Instead, he took what he had and ran with it, finishing in a spot most thought was unrealistic.
Carl Edwards was the points leader for 21 weeks in a row, and he finished his season in second place because he only won one race.
Lesson to be learned: Don't always assume those ahead of you will always finish ahead of you. Don't let that stop you from finishing first in your own life.

It's not over, until it's over.
I learned this while covering the race in the media during the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte, North Carolina. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was finally up front, and so was Kasey Kahne. It was an exciting re-start, two drivers looking to break losing streaks, and then Kahne runs out gas on the first turn. Earnhardt Jr. pulls ahead and leads the race, until he runs out of gas on the final turns, and Kevin Harvick passes him for the win. Kahne and Earnhardt fans were heartbroken.
There are other incidences that I could write about. On the same day of the above mentioned race, during the IZOD INDY series race at the Indy 500 in Indianapolis, another driver sponsored by the National Guard (Earnhardt Jr. is sponsored by the National Guard) was leading the race and aiming for the win. He was a rookie, and he'd win a historical race, the 100 year anniversary, but on the last turn he made a bold move to pass the trailing driver, as he did this, he crashed his car, and lost the race. 
Ten years ago, on the final lap, legendary driver, Dale Earnhardt (Senior) was in third and was protecting his team, his son, and a driver named Micheal Waltrip, it would've been 1-2-3 finish for Dale Earnhardt, Inc in the Daytona 500, but Earnhardt was involved in a crash that ended his life. 

Those three incidences prove, no matter what you do, it’s not over until it’s over. Mistakes can be made along the way.
In life, don’t give up on a bad start to your day and assume it’ll end bad. Good things are always ahead, just like sometimes, bad things can happen on a good day.

If all else fails in your life, help someone less fortunate than you. It’ll make you a better person to help someone who may not have the chances and luck you do have.

Monday, November 07, 2011


I've been asked many times by some people, "Why do you want to write about NASCAR?"
The questions aren't coming in as often as they did when I first started to write about it back in the spring of 2010.
This past year, I've spent time writing for a website, Skirts and Scuffs. I was fortunate enough to be a part of NASCAR Citizen Journalist Media Corp and I'm proud of that accomplishment.
At the beginning of the year, I started to write a memoir. It was really meant to be a research project to help me out with the fiction story I have written already. I have out-done myself to say the least. I now have novel, movie script, memoir and journalism writing under my belt and I pride myself in having that.
The question still remains, why NASCAR? Because I connect with it in a way I'm unable to explain. I understand it and I love it.
The best feeling in the world is knowing you are doing what you are meant to be doing.
In my life, I have done a lot of different things. I've worn many hats. In all that I've done, I can say that my heart is in writing and it's about this sport.
In my memoir, which I hope to have published in the Spring of 2012, you'll learn a lot about me and my different interests. You'll learn how I love to learn. You'll learn a lot about my favorite interests in many different topics and you'll also learn why I have a hatred toward men; which seems contradicting because I love male dominated sports. I've been through a lot in my young life and this past year has been a whirlwind of good and bad.
This past year, a lot of good dreams came true, and a lot of bad dreams came true too.
It is amazing how writing about your own life teaches you so much about yourself, and the world around you.
I'm a sensitive person, and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I'm serious when I say it irritates the shit out of me when those around me have rude and insulting things to say about what I'm doing with myself. It's really none of their business but people love to make things their business.  For the record, the negative people did not win. Life is not a game, this is my life. Although today I invest more time and energy into my writing, I still exercise, eat healthy, and for a 35 year old, I look good; not to mention, I have more energy, stamina, and I'm a lot more flexible then a lot of women ten years younger, and women my age.
So on to answer the question, why NASCAR? I want to say that when I'm writing or involved with what I'm doing, I don't care what everyone else is saying.
I get lost in the sport.
This past year, I participated in press conferences with Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr.; I was in the media for Charlotte's Coca Cola 600; New Hampshire's Lenox 300; Charlotte's Bank of America's 500; the Hall of Fame 2012 Class of inductees, and I also participated in many phone pressers. I had an opportunity to turn a journalism goal into a reality and I ran with it.
The first time I walked on stage to compete as a bikini model in 2003, I was nervous and I was scared; I wasn't sure how I felt but in the end, I knew those were the best days of my life.
The first time I drove through the tunnel at Charlotte Motor Speedway to be a part of the media, I was ecstatic. The happiness I felt was unbelievable, it seriously compared to the day my niece was born. The day beat out my competition days by a large landslide and I know I'll never forget the first time in the media center; I sure as hell hope there are many other times.
As the end of the NASCAR season nears, so does my memoir and the story is filled with a lot of stories.
I followed Earnhardt Jr.'s career and wrote about him the most but in the story came a lot of other drivers.
My first real interview with a driver was with Kahne during the All Star press conference at the Whisky River in Charlotte last March.
I've learned to throw away the fan card and not look back. I've fallen in love with the competitive side to getting the story out there and I want to do it more. I've learned a lot about NASCAR as well as other series such as Indy racing and MotoG.P. (Motorcycle Grand Prix). 
This past year, I've also learned a lot about life, death, love, and loss. My story is one to be told and there's a lot to say. As I wrap up the loose ends and edit the story, my perception of this past year is one of success. Sure I'm not rich nor am I where I want to be financially or personally but I am in a much better place today than I would be had I stayed in New England or in New York. As a NASCAR journalist, I may never see the financial success that some of friends who chose careers in engineering, nursing, law or business management, but when I'm at the track I'm happier than a a pig in shit.