Who are you?

IndyCar commentary — By on November 2, 2009 11:54 pm

(Originally posted by Steph to Planet-IRL.com.)

“Holy cow, girl.  Will you please shut up about Greg Moore already?”

I will — in just a minute.  This has an external point, I promise.  Bear with me.

I was chatting with my esteemed Planet-IRL.com colleague Lisa tonight as we were working out the details of having me join the site as a contributor.  (I’m very excited to be a part of the team, by the way.  Thanks for having me.)  Once we were done with the administrative part of our call, we moved on to more personal topics.

She mentioned a blog post that I wrote about Greg Moore on Saturday.  I wrote it when I was in the thick of sharing memories with some of my friends, and after thinking about it for a while, I decided that it was a little too personal and evocative for widespread dissemination on the internet.  I pulled it down about two hours after I posted it.

However, Lisa had caught it before it was deleted.  She brought it up and said she had enjoyed it, but she also said something that got me thinking.

I’m paraphrasing, but it went more or less like this:  “I gotta tell you, when I read it, I was kinda like, whoa… have you never lost anyone who’s actually close to you before?”

Yes, I have, and it’s absolutely a different creature, worlds worse.  There’s no point of comparison.

So, the best answer I could give her was that unless you lived through it, there’s really no example to draw from to explain what it was like.

Most of it, I think, is that we felt invested in our drivers back then in ways to which people who have started following the sport more recently may not be able to relate.

A couple of today’s drivers come close.  TK immediately pops to mind.  When he appears on Twitter (today, it was with a simple “TK in the house”), all IndyCar-related chatter grinds to an immediate halt and he becomes the hub of conversation until he leaves.  He talks to us, gives us glimpses into his life and shows us pictures of his friends and family.  And then he disappears and we all talk about who got to chat with him the most and how cool it was of him to do it.

For the most part, though, drivers these days are very aloof.  The most we get to see is the standard “the #X crew did a great job on the Sponsor Y car today” speech after the race and maybe a few other tidbits here and there.  But we’re kept at a distance for the most part, and a disconnect exists.  That wasn’t always the case.

Later on Saturday night, I was talking to another racing friend of mine who’s in his early 20s.  He read my post about Greg as well — in fact, he was one of the people who harassed me to write it.  He seems to enjoy grilling me to understand more about what racing was like before he started following it, which is something I greatly appreciate about him.

He asked me what it was that made my emotions about that era so strong.

I did my best to explain.  The cars were so much more powerful then, and they were such a challenge to master.  And yet, those drivers would get into them every week and pull off the bravest passes, recover from the biggest bobbles, and reach mind-boggling speeds.  By the end of each race, we all stared at our televisions, mouths agape, waiting with bated breath to hear the utterances of our heroes to glean any insight they could give us into how and why they did it.

“Wow,” he responded.  “Why couldn’t I be into racing then?  And how do we make it like that now?”

Food for thought on lots of topics.  Good thing it’s a long off-season.

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