These drivers were faster than any I had ever raced against. Yet, no matter how many late nights my dad and I spent practicing at the track, I still struggled. I went from winning races to a desperate fight not to come last.
As high school approached, I realized a busy chapter in my life was beginning, and my quarter midget chapter was ending. But, as my final race weekend grew closer, that competitive fire burned even brighter, and I decided to go out with a win.
I don’t think we ever worked harder to prepare for a race. During the many late nights in the garage, my dad and I racked up a sizeable Band-Aid bill from all of the cuts and scrapes we got making adjustments to the car, trying to shave tenths of a second off my lap times.
On race day, my excitement filled me with nervous jitters. Given all of our preparation, I knew this would be the day I’d get that win. In my qualifying runs, I drove more confidently than ever before, outperforming most of the fastest drivers, placing me near the front of the field for the heat race setting the final stage.
As the green flag waved to start the heat, I charged to the front of the field, my heart pounding as I pushed forward with a steely determination. With only 15 laps of racing, I had no time to think, only to pass the car ahead and move on to the next.
As I cruised well ahead of the pack to a surefire win, I knew all the late nights and sore necks were paying off.
Then, at the last second of the final lap, the second-place driver roared past me out of nowhere to snatch the win. After all the work, I still fell short.
Bad Things Happen
I had missed out on wins before, but this one crushed me. When I returned to our race trailer, I threw my helmet into the car and collapsed, heartbroken, into a chair. “I don’t care anymore. I can’t do it,” I mumbled with a cracking voice. Fighting tears, I told my parents I wanted to pack up and leave. My confidence had crumbled, and I couldn’t bring myself to race again.
Then my dad put his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said, “Caeden, bad things happen. No matter how hard you work, bad things will still happen. That’s when it’s up to you whether you win or not. I know you can do it.” His words cut through my doubts and despair, filling me with drive and determination.
The Final Race
Climbing into the car for my final race, I felt my dad pat me on the helmet, saying, “Forget about the last race. Go out there and win this thing!”
During the warm-up lap, time almost stopped as I focused on the race. Coming around for the start of the race, all I could hear was my breathing as everything else faded to a soft echo. Here we go, I thought. The moment the green flag dropped, the battle between myself and the driver behind me kicked off. As the laps ticked down, the intensity of our struggle hit a boiling point, our bumpers and tires bouncing off each other every lap. Finally, with our cars still clashing, I crossed the finish line a mere bumper ahead of my rival. As I grabbed the checkered flag for that long-awaited victory lap, the cheers from the crowd drowned any memory of painful races.
My joy as I stepped on the podium was only eclipsed by the grin on my dad’s face. We both realized this was more than just a win on track; it was a win against myself.
Whenever a seemingly impossible challenge presents itself, I remember that moment in the trailer with my dad. I still hear his voice when I read Job 42:2: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” So if I, metaphorically, want to pack up and go home, I recall his encouragement, reminding me to “get out there and win it.” And even if I don’t always win, I’ll always be proud of choosing to race.
Caeden Rogers writes from the Pacific Northwest.© 2002 - 2023, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.