Where Are You Headed? – March 2013
Recently I heard a story which may or may not be true. Whether it is or whether it is not true, really does not matter, as the principle involved still applies to all racers and race fans. The story goes like this:
“Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor
came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he
came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn’t find
his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn’t there, so he
looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find it. Then he looked in the seat
beside him. He still couldn’t find it.
The conductor said, “Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you
are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.”
Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle
punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned
around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking
under his seat for his ticket.
The conductor rushed back and said, “Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t
worry, I know who you are. No problem. You don’t need a ticket. I’m sure
you bought one.”
Einstein looked at him and said, “Young man, I too, know who I am. What I
don’t know is where I’m going.”
For racers, knowing who we are should not be a problem. We can all fill our roles whether we are a driver or a crew member. Maybe we will have specific responsibilities on the crew, i.e. clutch, tune up, tire pressure, finances, or something else. Most race teams will have a goal established for the season, especially if they are racing in the Sunoco Race Fuels ET Series. Some will aim to earn their way for entry into the Northwest Division Summit Race of Champions and others will be happy to just earn their membership on the Woodburn Dragstrip Summit ET Finals Team. The goal of each racer is to win, whether it is a specific race or series of races. Therefore the question really becomes, “How do we get there?”
I am reminded of the time when I was headed home from college with a carload of fellow students. It was a long trip from Kansas to Oregon and we decided to drive straight through, changing drivers every four hours with others sleeping at various intervals.
One of our classmates lived in Limon, Colorado. In order to reach his home, we needed to leave the freeway and go through town. I just happened to be asleep and a certain girl was driving when all of a sudden I was awakened to the noise of a siren. I was confused and dazed as I came to consciousness until I realized that we had been stopped by a cop for going the wrong way on a one-way street. Somehow, the girl talked her way out of the ticket, but here is the “moral of the story.” We may have a goal in mind, but we need to know how to get there.
Each of my racing years has been a learning year. In truth, each race is an opportunity to learn. One race, I learned how to set the floats in the carburetor. I will have to tell you that story some time. Sometimes we learn by watching others. Have you ever seen the racer who mistakenly had the car in reverse when the light turned green. Incidentally, launching in reverse is not a good idea.
So as we approach the 2013 race season, like Einstein, if we don’t already know, let’s all figure out who we are. Let’s be certain of where we are headed, and let’s be careful as to how we get there. By the way, don’t be surprised if you learn something at each race.
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.