While I’m waiting for the practice to start, I figured I would blow the dust of the old blog and clear the cobwebs. This was written on the plane on my way home from St. Petes… I wasn’t sure if I would post or not, but a #TBT post by my BFF Carol this week reminded me of the weekend we became “besties”, in 2008 at Long Beach, and it tied in perfectly with this post as it revolves around the same people…
There is a common theme among the racing community. We all refer to each other as our “racing family”. Be it the drivers, or series workers, or media colleagues, or fans, we are bonded together by this crazy thing called racing.
We travel together, work together, eat together, fight together, laugh together, and cry together.
We embrace the highs, and learn to live with the lows.
Each season by choice, situation, or by tragedy, our family gets slightly smaller.
Drivers don’t return, teams downsize or shut down, people retire or get let go from their jobs, spouses pass on, and there is a domino effect that ripples throughout the community.
This year the most noticeable void, for me personally, is the big man himself not walking his lanky self down pit lane, a palpable and obvious loss made more poignantly evident by the very many tribute t-shirts and stickers seen throughout the grandstands and paddocks all weekend at each event.
But it’s also the not so obvious loss that I was feeling all weekend when I was in St. Petes. (and subsequently now, this weekend, watching Long Beach from afar)
By losing Justin, I also lose Julia and the girls on site. I lose Stefan and his new wife Katie on pitlane supporting his big brother. I lose Keith and Lynne Wilson flying over for certain races, with whom I had the great pleasure of joining on several occasions for meals and conversation. I lose conversing with his longtime PR support team. And I selfishly lose the company of one of my best racing friends, who was one of Justin’s investors from the early days of his open wheel career, and my race weekend roomie for almost a decade.
We attended St.Petersburg four times together. All of my memories of this race and this town include her, and many include the aforementioned people. Memories popped up like ghosts while walking the grounds and the city and it just felt like something was missing.
But it was only as I sat on the plane reflecting back on my weekend, that I realized that, despite the awesome company I was keeping, something indeed was missing. A very large portion of my extended racing family. With each season, more and more familiar faces fade into memories. The faces I took for granted smiling at me from across the media centre, or looking up from the pit stall, or waving down from the grandstands.
Eventually I’ll be the face that fades away, and perhaps someone will muse “I miss my friend” about me.