FEAR!!!!!!!!!!! – October 2011
When I was a young lad, we lived on a dairy farm. The barn was located about 100 yards from the house. One dark winter night, after I had finished my chores, I was the last to leave the barn. I turned out the lights and started towards the house, noticing that the pole light had burned out. It sure seemed dark. My mind began to speculate, “What if there was something hiding in the dark shadows between me and the house?” I started to run towards the house. Just as I broke into a run, I heard a noise of something coming at me from behind. Somehow I found a little extra and began running even faster.
Have you ever received that extra bit of energy from a boost of adrenaline? Fear is one of the most powerful human emotions which alerts us to danger and has likely extended the lives of both humans and animals. An entire Halloween industry has been built upon peoples’ enjoyment of fear. Most people avoid situations in which there is a high risk of actual injury. Yet they enjoy the experience of being scared in an environment that is actually safe. Horror Films are a good example of this phenomenon.
Response to fear can be both emotional and physical. Physical responses include sweating, increased heart rate and high adrenaline levels. This physical response prepares the body for combat or escape, known as the “fight or flight” response. Emotionally, some people avoid fear-inducing situations at all costs, while others become adrenaline junkies and thrive on extreme sports or other fear-inducing thrill situations. Repeated exposure to similar situations lead to familiarity. This greatly reduces the fear response and the resulting elation, leading adrenaline junkies to seek even new and bigger thrills.
“Does a racer experience fear,” you ask? “Usually not,” would be our preferred answer. There may be some situations which elicit the emotion of “surprise”, but, just like the Boy Scouts, “Be Prepared” is the standard operating procedure for the racer as well. I am sure the first time your car goes into a giant wheelstand, the element of surprise may cause the driver to decelerate so quickly that damage to the suspension can result. Most drivers are alert to any first indications that might cause a car to get crossed up and will skillfully make every effort to avoid the wall and save the machinery. With the high horsepower cars, familiarity is vital to drivers, both at the launch and at speed down track.
Now back to my childhood, as I am running full speed in the dark with the sounds of something gaining on me from behind…………. I can run no faster and am expecting to be grabbed, tackled, beaten, or devoured at any moment. I can sense it is getting closer. In a flash I see something run past me on the left. As it gets ahead of me and I realize it is our family dog. You cannot believe the relief that surged through all of me. I had survived and the danger had passed. Whew!! What a relief !!!
Story by Elvon Kauffman.
Elvon Kauffman has been drag racing since 1975. He has been a NHRA Northwest Division Bracket Champion twice – first in 1978 when he defeated fellow Woodburn racer, Joe DiFillipi at Seattle International Raceway and secondly, in 1980 when he again defeated a Woodburn racer, Ron Burch at Woodburn Dragstrip. He was the first and only World Champion in Heavy Bracket, winning with his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner 4-speed at the now defunct Ontario Motor Speedway in October, 1980.
Elvon’s variety of life experiences become the basis for the stories he shares in Straight Talk, a monthly column produced by Woodburn Dragstrip. Hopefully, you will enjoy reading them.