This is still a blog, right? May I take a moment to tell you a personal tale?
I was at the Canadian Motorsports Expo this weekend.* In my travels, I came across a racing memorabilia booth that had, among many other wonderful things, a race-worn and autographed Greg Moore visor mounted on a replica helmet.
Those who know me will know just how quickly my heart stopped. I’ve never been much of a memorabilia collector, but I have always wanted a race-worn and signed item of Greg’s to display in my home. But budgets are tight in my household right now, so I knew even before asking how much it was that taking it home was out of the question.
I tweeted a photo with the caption, “Man.. I really need to get that lottery win. Can’t believe I’m leaving this place without this.”
I hovered around and admired it a little while longer, then walked away. I never for a moment thought that anything more would come of it.
Later in the day — much to my surprise — the visor became mine.
(The story of how I ended up with the visor separate from the helmet is entertaining enough in its own right. It involved a negotiation with the shop owner — “I normally wouldn’t because it’ll devalue the helmet, but I can see what a good home it will have with you” — and running a wild goose chase around the show floor for an hour looking for an Allen key. But I’ll save that one for another day.)
I can’t disclose a lot of detail. The donor asked to remain anonymous, and if I discuss how the transaction came about his identity might be revealed. But in deciding he wanted to do this for me, he said, “You give a lot with no expectation of anything in return.”
I’ve been blessed to be on the receiving end of a great deal of appreciation and generosity in my life, but this is right up near the top of the heap.
And it got me to thinking.
We all have our moments of frustration with this sport. We all have days where we feel right on the edge of throwing in the towel.
But one of the things that keep many of us coming back is that in racing you can meet some jaw-droppingly fantastic people.
Way back when Greg died over 13 years ago, I had friends and family who listened while I mourned and did their best to offer comfort. But I didn’t know anyone else who followed racing, and so none of the people around me at that time in my life truly understood what I was experiencing.
Since I found the IndyCar community online, though, I’ve found so many kindred spirits — people who can relate to each other on a level that others can’t simply through their involvement in racing.
That kinship, that community, is immeasurably special — a once-in-a-lifetime find — and it’s so important to be reminded of that and to treasure it.
And so, anonymous donor, I want to publicly thank you — not only for the visor, which I’ll treasure until the end of my days, but for helping me to appreciate anew one of the most precious things about being deeply involved in this sport that I love.
Whenever I can, I promise to pay it forward.
* As an aside, I had planned to return from the CME with some story ideas, but there was distressingly little open-wheel content there this year. The Honda Indy Toronto was the most notable absence, and I spoke to the show’s director this afternoon to find out what had happened. He told me that they reached out to the folks at the Honda Indy Toronto to offer them a place on the show floor, but their calls went unanswered. Given that this event is by far the largest pre-season gathering of motorsport fans in Southern Ontario, and given that there were several high-profile stars in attendance this weekend (Kyle Busch and Michael Waltrip being the headliners), and given that they have a double-header race weekend to promote, this seems to be a rather glaring omission on the part of the race organizers. I plan to follow up with them to get their side of the story, and I’ll let you know if I hear back. (There. I managed to sneak some work into this post. You knew I would!)