The Comradery of Defeat

The Comradery of Defeat

Imagine you are sitting on the front porch of an old southern plantation house, telling tales of races near and far, one evening in the summer. It’s not too hot because the sun is setting, but the humidity is fairly high since it’s July in North Carolina.

A nice breeze blows across the porch as everyone takes turns sharing their best race stories. When the time comes for Randal to share, he pauses and continues to slowly rock in his chair. Everyone remains quiet, hearing only the crickets chirping and the frogs croaking, waiting to hear what Randal has to say.

Randal didn’t have a recent victory to share. In fact, he had a heartbreaking end to his last race weekend. He did well in both practice and qualifying which allowed him to start P4 for Race 1. But shortly into Race 1, Randal called over the radio about a noise and loss of power. All he could do was limp the car around Watkins Glen and back into the pits, hoping to race the next day. His race was done, and little did he know, so was his weekend.

If this was a traditional PR piece, that’s where the story would end. That’s not where our story ends though. Randal didn’t try to leave the track. He stayed around to hang out with everyone, review his race video with his coach, and wait for what he hoped wouldn’t come—the news that he wasn’t racing in Race 2. In fact, it was Randal’s actions from the rest of the weekend that would lead to this fine summer evening, listening to race stories from all of TPC.

“Perhaps one of the most iconic phrases in sports was from the ABC Wide World of Sports, narrated by Jim McKay, ‘the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.’ As a child, this phrase seemed to sum up sports in a nutshell. As an adult, I have grown to learn there must be more than winning and losing. You bet your bottom dollar there is nothing sweeter than the thrill of victory, but losing doesn’t have to be in agony.”

Everyone perks up a little once they hear this come out of Randal. He’s normally very laid back, but today he has a serious tone to his voice. Randal paused for a moment, took a breath, and continued on.

“Perhaps motorsports racing has developed the stereotype-for-trade by Will Ferrell’s character, Ricky Bobby, in Talladega Nights. ‘You’re either first or you’re last.’ However, from my eyes, I see much more than winning is everything. I see fellowship. It’s made up of support from family, friends, teams, coaches, teammates, crew members, team owners, and fans. Don’t get me wrong – this is an extremely expensive sport, and pressure on drivers, sponsors, and team owners to win is real. But don’t let that fool you. In order to win, you must have fellowship. You must have friends. And, if so, winning is possible. So, through my eyes, the community as a whole influences my sportsmanship.”

Everyone sat back and looked around. They remembered Randal showing up that Saturday for Race 2, in his team shirt, with a smile on his face. They watched him walk around recording a Facebook live during the grid, talking with teammates and friends. He continued recording through the race while cheering on everyone from the pit box.

What Randal said should be true for more racers and teams – losing doesn’t have to be in agony. We sometimes spend more time with our race team than we do with our own family. The team becomes family. How can we not cheer on our family if they win and we lose? Are we really losing? The comradery that Randal showed that weekend brought TPC just a little closer together and made everyone a little more like a family.

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