Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Way of Winning

Many years ago I was at a stock car race and the race was delayed due to rain. While we were all hanging around waiting for the track to be dried and the race to restart the track announcer interviewed, among others, A.J. Foyt who was leading when the rain began. Foyt said that he hoped the race got restarted soon because he didn't want it to be called and for him to be declared the winner due to rain. "I don't want to win it that way," he said, "that would not count to me as a real win." The only way Foyt ever wanted to win a race was by driving faster than anyone else.

Danica Patrick won her first Indy Car race yesterday, becoming the first woman ever to win in that series. She did it, however, by not needing to stop for fuel when everyone else did; not by driving her car faster than the rest of the field. No one seems to think that matters; the only issue is that she crossed the finish line first.

That's rather sad, to me. I think she's a great lady and I admire her. Races are supposed to be about who is the fastest and/or best driver, but to me it seems that what happened yesterday was merely that she was driving a car that was built by better engineers. Had gas mileage not been an issue several cars would have finished ahead of her. What's sad, to me, is not that she won in that fashion, but that it doesn't seem to matter to her or to her team.

A couple of years ago I was watching a stock car race on television and when it was put under caution by rain every car but one made a pit stop. The one who did not inherited the lead and was still there when the race was stopped. The driver had never won a race before and, when interviewed during the delay, said that he hoped the race would be called. "I'd love to get the win." he said, "There's no way I can win if we go back to racing."

Football coaches taping the opponent on the sidelines. "Performance enhancing" chemicals. Winning a race by not pitting during a rain delay.

Getting the trophy. How doesn't matter. Just win.

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