Some of you, including even my closest friends, may be surprised to know I’ve turned nearly 180 degrees over the last year or so into a legit, fascinated fan of IndyCar and naturally the entire business that surrounds it.
I can now easily sit and enjoy watching an entire 500 mile race on any given weekend, while explaining to my husband the rules I’ve apparently memorized related to qualifying, along with random ‘hot sports opinions’ on what drivers I just can’t stand.
While I’m sure he’s a nice young man, Will Power’s cheesy name and Opie-esque persona annoys the crap out of me. Guilty as charged.
Combining the precision required in both driving, engineering and mostly the business to support it all (the logistics alone of getting all of the mechanics & equipment from city to city gives me heartburn)… the sport is mind-blowing as much as it is purely awesome.
The reason I initially became so interested is thanks to a few friends of ours – Sulli & Bunch as they are known to us – who are now the proud owners (I guess technically SH Racing is the proud owner with S = Sulli), of an IndyCar that ran its first race last weekend at the 100th Anniversary of Indy.
And in its first showing, their car ran as close to the front as 2nd with less than 30 laps to go, then finished 8th in the very first showing of the #07 Redline car driven by Tomas Scheckter.
While it may sound naive to over-celebrate an achievement that, by its very nature, has to be preceded by immense amounts of success… thus making that achievement just one after many, many that had to come before it…
It is stories exactly like this that inspire passionate people to get out of bed in the morning.
I know there were likely countless years of painstaking work, failures, learnings and sheer determination toward a goal that pushed Sulli & his family to a place where that hard work is now manifesting itself as an amazing opportunity with continued blessings.
And I would also have to assume that the terrifying, yet calculated risks one has to take to get this point in business and in sport are risks that not everyone in the world is capable of taking. Some have the passion, some also have the work ethic…
But I believe very few have all three.
Yet, for those lucky & talented few, with risk comes reward… and reward for SH Racing is another day, another race… another chance to stick it in the fence or in the show. The picture below of Sulli says all you need to know about exactly how much passion this guy has.
Personally, the very idea of a car, for which the average IndyCar engine alone is leased for around $1 million or more per year, and for which the annual tire expense is likely more than I make or will make in any given year, the idea of a split-second mistake sending that car head-first into a concrete wall made my stomach turn as I watched them reach speeds of 230 into every single one of those ridiculous turns.
All 800 of them.
Yet, the instant you hesitate as a driver, a race strategist or an owner to make a decision in this sport, with not a one in the bunch that isn’t risky, then the more likely you are to put your team and your business at even greater risk when nanoseconds matter.
That’s why they have no choice but to be the best at what they do and hire those who can do the same. Outside of racing & I guess maybe space travel, there are few scenarios in the world when precision matters more.
With all of that said, I came away from last weekend with one quote that has stuck with me from the unexpected source of Marco Andretti.
Never really taken the time to form an opinion of him one way or the other. He could easily be an idiot or a genius… all I know as fact is that the kid can drive.
On the final qualifying day, Marco was the headliner in what this sport would define as a quite dramatic, just barely making it onto the track at 5:59 after being bumped out of the field with minutes to spare. He was 50 seconds away from not qualifying for the 100th running of the Indy 500, and his run would determine whether or not his teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was then on the bubble, or Marco made it into the race.
And he nailed it.
While hurling himself and his car around a track at 224-232mph, he executed flawlessly & didn’t hestitate to use every inch of that track – including the inches closest to that looming fence – to make it happen.
The quote he shared as he crawled out of his car is probably one his father and his father’s father have said over the years.
“It was either stick it in the fence or stick it in the show.”
Whether you are an IndyCar driver or a mid-level manager in travel technology, even though the stakes in racing may be just a teeeensie tiny bit higher than for me, the passion we all carry with us into our careers translates.
We each get out of bed in the morning and make a decision to be okay with the in between or decide to use every inch of the track with the only options being the fence or the show.
While I plan to stay away from the literal fence personally, I hope I can put that type of uninhibited passion that SH Racing exhibited to work every day in my career, even in the smallest way, and give my customers, colleagues and my business every inch of the passion required for us to not finish anywhere other than whatever is defined as our ‘Show.’
And with that said, this ‘Johny-Come-Lately’ IndyCar Fan taking life lessons from Marco Andretti obviously needs some sleep…:Because without my 2 full REM cycles, the only place you will find me tomorrow is in the fence.
Congrats again to SH Racing on an incredible debut.