Wearing a long-sleeve, royal-blue thermal shirt embroidered with Winnie-the-Pooh Disney buddy Tigar, Elliott Forbes-Robinson smiled broadly as he embraced an old friend in Daytona International's garage area at the Nov. 10-12 Historic Sportscar Racing meet.
One could only wonder how Forbes-Robinson -- simply known as EFR to most everyone in the racing universe -- might be able to smile given the year he and spouse, Lounette, had just endured.
"It's like anything I enjoy," the just-turned 63-year-old said, "One day I'm going to wake up and not be able to do it so you enjoy it to the fullest while you can."
If anyone were to know life's highs and lows it would be EFR.
In NASCAR, EFR long ago was and remains today among the elite road-course "ringers" called upon by Cup teams to not only race but to also teach road course racing to some less knowledgeable drivers.
Interestingly, in his 22 Cup starts EFR would score twice as many top-10 finishes on ovals like Rockingham and Charlotte than on road courses.
Among other feats in sportscar racing, EFR won the 1997 and 1999 Rolex 24 At Daytona (most recently finishing second in the 2005 Rolex 24 with Butch Leitzinger and Jimmie Johnson), the 1999 ALMS prototype championship and, with Leitzinger in 2005, winning Rolex Series Daytona Prototype races at Mid-Ohio and Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.
Scoring five different major-league racing championships and scoring nearly 60 upper-tier professional racing wins -- copping at least one win in each of his five racing decades -- EFR's raced so many times he doesn't even have the barest memory of some having occurred at all.
EFR encountered one such case while he was being inducted into Detroit's Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in August. Seated on Detroit's State Theatre stage, EFR wheeled around to see the screen behind him, totally enthralled with some long-ago race footage dug up for his induction ceremony.
"They showed clips from my Can-Am days," EFR said, talking about the closed-wheel, single-seaters he raced in the late 1970's. Having not remembered a lot of what was being shown, "I had to watch just to see what happened," he said.
What "happened" was EFR racing and besting the likes of Al Holbert, Patrick Tambay, Alan Jones, Bobby Rahal, George Follmer, Jacky Ickx, Keke Rosberg, Danny Sullivan and many, many others in just that one race series.
It was just one of EFR's many motorsports achievements recited that evening at the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
But the Motor City's glitz, glitter, round-the-clock lights, sounds and rumblings from the nearby 11th Woodward Dream Cruise weren't enough to take his mind away from thoughts of his North Carolina home where only a few months before 34-year-old son Colin Forbes-Robinson had passed away after a lengthy illness.
"It wasn't an easy thing but it was also a good thing," EFR said of the almost endless hours he'd spent with his sick son. "I got to learn a lot of things I didn't know about him and a lot of things I didn't know about myself."
After four months on a respirator the doctors would remove it, telling the family that Colin was on his way to recovery.
Suddenly, four days later on April 30, 2006, Colin Forbes-Robinson -- a son and father alike -- was gone.
In Daytona this past weekend, just as she's done for decades, spouse Lounette was at her husband's side for the weekend's races -- despite having severely fractured her forearm on the day the two left for Daytona.
"She's my rock," EFR said.
"It helps us to be here among the friends that we've known and loved for so long."
-Exclusively for Motorsports.com by DC Williams