Motorsport’s Life Lessons

Project is my personal journey dedicated to the exploration of motorsport.  Recently, I hit a critical website error.  I decided to act boldly, blow away my website, and recreate it from scratch.  In doing this, I have been reflecting on the project so far and the direction that it should take going forward.  

Creating a website has taught me a lot about research, writing, and persistence.  I have learned even more about life from the subject-matter itself.  Racing is ageless.  Since men could run, they have raced.  Conversely, the motor is inherently modern.  Motorsport, therefore, is a modern embodiment of ageless themes.  

Motorsport has taught me life lessons  dealing with the cruelty of time, the optimism of the future, and the danger of standing still.  These are not new themes.  From Homer and Shakespeare to Sartre and beyond, the stories have been told before.

Speed has always been seductive to me.  Beyond just the feeling of acceleration, the need for speed speaks to the human desire for advancement and betterment.  Motorsport championship seasons are rarely–if ever–won through satisfaction with the status quo.  Therein lies a fundamental truth: to achieve the grand prize, one must evolve.

To evolve, one must take calculated changes.  As current Formula 1 racer Daniel Ricciardo joked a while back (and I’m paraphrasing), “Sometimes you just gotta lick the stamp and send it.”  With a wry smile, perhaps this says something deeper about human achievement.  For me, I have felt most alive when taking a chance that I believed in.  Conversely, I have also felt dead during blind acceptance of the status quo.

Risk is important.  The best drivers, in my opinion, were not the most naturally talented.  It was those who used their talents with the best judgment.  Pushing the boundaries of sport, physics, knowledge, and human capacity is essential to evolve into something more.  

“By being a racing driver you are under risk all the time. By being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing, we are competing to win. And the main motivation to all of us is to compete for victory, it’s not to come 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th. I race to win as long as I feel it’s possible. Sometimes you get it wrong? Sure, it’s impossible to get it right all the time. But I race designed to win, as long as I feel I’m doing it right.” 

–Ayrton Senna, 1990.

Judgment involves a decision as to when to take a risk and when to get out.  Sometimes the mere act of “getting out” is its own significant risk.  For example, when Lewis Hamilton left McLaren for Mercedes, pundits called the move foolish.  As motorsport fans know, history treats the move as truly inspired.

I believe that genius is as much about judgement and insight as it is about raw natural talent.  To live without risk is to live boring.  To risk too much is dangerous.  Life, then, should be lived close to–but never exceeding–the edge.  I have learned from Nuvolari, Carraciola, Fangio, and  Senna that the greatest among us are those that most consistently take the smartest risks.  

In summary, project Grand Prix Evolved should be a modern and human story about human excellence.  It is my sincere hope to present fact-based stories that preserve the history while teaching us something more.

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