It’s what a dream becomes when someone or something crushes it, making it useless. Or, if played around with in the right way, it creates the perfect gateway for those dreams. Racing is built upon dreams and, many times, dust. With hard work and determination, the most talented rise to the highest ranks and compete against their idols. Mixed in with the dirt is sweat, faith, and determination, which is the formula for success.
This came to me Friday night, when I was at my local dirt track, Attica Raceway Park. Attica Ambush is a big event that draws a large crowd and huge names, such as Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, and Dale Blaney. The press went to them instantly, like moths to a flame. I have to admit, meeting stars like that was exciting, but that wasn’t the most impressive thing I witnessed.
Walking around while Sprints qualified for heat races, I saw teenagers my age in unmarked firesuits next to barely sponsored machines. Young men talked to their fathers, seeking advice. Other drivers stood together, talking. I overheard one wonder, “So, Tony Stewart’s here?” The hope in that one’s voice wasn’t lost on anyone. Every under-funded driver had the same dream that night; they wanted to stand out, catch the right person’s eye. The thing that made them different from one another was how badly they wanted to race, the win, a chance.
All they want is to leave a mark. Tire marks.
Almost like marks on a published piece or writing.
Inspiration hit me hard in the face during a caution in the feature event; their dreams weren’t any different than mine. They fantasized about being big shots and having NASCAR fans shout their names ever Sunday afternoon. My desire is to write articles that hundreds of people read and support. We long to become somebody, a name in a loved sport. There is something about achieving what seems impossible that’s alluring: it makes you want to work harder, work towards your goals. That spark was lit inside my soul during that race.
The racers’ willpower wasn’t the only enlightening thing that chilly night. Just the fact that big names go to small dirt tracks is incredible. Kahne and Stewart enjoy dirt tracking on their off-weekends, and it proves that they don’t stray far from their roots. It gives those young hopefuls new idols to gaze at with appreciation. To stay close to what made you famous shows humility, and many in the public eye don’t practice being humble enough. NASCAR is different; drivers are dedicated to the fans, staying late at signings to make sure everyone gets an autograph or picture. It’s a demeanor that influences the youngsters who want to hit it big. That’s what separates our sport from others. We find connections with certain drivers, make them relatable to us on a personal level. It’s all those aspects that add up to an idol, and becoming someone’s idol or motivation is something to look up to.
It all dwindled down as I left Attica. A father scrapes every fund dry so his son can chase down cars and checkered flags. A NASCAR driver comes to a dirt track and is reminded of his beginning. Desires are all around us, in beginning stages and finished products. Racing, in general, has to be one of the most inspirational sports around. Pushing yourself to the limit could secure a spot in NASCAR.
Because, this time, dreams aren’t crushed into dust. They’re built up from it.