Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Days Of Thunder
A couple steamy weekends ago we headed east to the town of Monson, mostly to check out their annual Summerfest...
But mainly to have a look at the annual Soapbox Derby they throw on that day.
There's something trademark-American about soapbox derbies. Something 1930's old fashioned, something creative. Something 'Our Gang' about the whole thing.
It's an event I've been wanting to check out since first catching wind of it a couple years ago, over on Radar Check.
The racers were very young and while it wasn't a toe to toe race, it was more like time trials, with each racer trying to make best speed down a long hill and stopping just short of the hay bail barrier at the bottom.
That is, if you make it to the hay bails.
A few speedsters brought their game that day; pushing the dual envelopes of their machines' capabilities and their own mettle to the limits.
Sometimes with harrowing results.
Most of the racing went off without a hitch, with successive runs by the competitors increasing in speed and competitive ferocity.
But half way down one of the runs, it became alarmingly apparent by the way the number 2 car was weaving back and forth that something had gone frightfully wrong.
The car suddenly veered violently towards track side and the crowd leapt to it's feet as, with nerves of cold steel, the racer struggled to maintain control in the face of imminent disaster.
With skills honed of weeks of experience, our driver struggled against forces of gravity and inertia. Refusing to succumb to cruel fate without a fight.
Control was impossibly maintained, and with a last split second maneuver from the old pro's bag of tricks...
....it was over.
Car and driver had screeched to a halt. Intact, mostly.
A collective sigh of relief expired from the crowd, and pent-up emotion burst forth from the pilot's seat.
The pit crew raced over to console, and cleared the track with all haste.
In a plywood and lawnmower-wheeled nutshell, that's what sport is about.
It's not always the thrill of victory.
Just as often, it's the agony of defeat.
But in sport, it doesn't matter either way. Win and lose will always happen.
It's what you find out about yourself in the experience that matters.