LIVING AN IMPOSSIBLE DREAM
Man of La Mancha's "The Impossible Dream," sung by Richard Kiley whilst playing his role of faux Spanish conquistador Don Quixote (KEE-oh-teh), was popular during the 1960's.
If you've never heard the song, most of you nonetheless know its essential meaning: the pursuit of life can be, um, trying at times.
Though often reduced in description as the story of a offbeat old codger fighting a windmill, Quixote's adventure in life is really about us because it just seems as though what we want - many times, what we need -- frustratingly falls just beyond our grasp, yet we continue to fight the good fight.
Sometimes, what we pursue isn't achievable from the get-go and others watching us, knowing better, can only allow futility to unfold in the face of obstinacy.
More so, though, The Impossible Dream is about race car drivers (though Man of La Mancha author Dale Wasserman probably wouldn't exactly agree).
For the most part, those who would race cars chase a love and dream that just won't ever become much more than an expensive, all-too-often self-funded avocation of relatively short duration.
As many racing old-timers have noted, them being especially far more versed in the area than your humble scribe, many more great race car drivers have existed than fans realize due to chronic and career-snuffing underfunding.
MONEY (IT'S A GAS)
How many times have you heard a racer rhetorically ask, "If only I had more money?"
Of course, in the place of "money" you can substitute "transmission," "engine," "tires" -- whatever -- because money is what buys those transmissions, engines and tires.
In short, there are an awful lot of talented race car drivers who are digging ditches or hanging out in corporate offices, having a secret personal parts room of failed racing dreams as a result of failed attempts in funding those dreams.
At the other end of the spectrum, far too many well-heeled souls have stepped into a race car only to stay in 'em far longer than exhibited skill should've allowed.
(Some, Chip Ganassi is one who quickly comes to mind, figure it out and undertake ownership roles instead of altogether abandoning racing.)
As if it's an elemental part of an underfunded racer's deoxyribonucleic acid (that's "DNA" to you, Dodge -- a little inside joke, folks), new-to-the-sport journalists soon hear nearly every underfunded, also-ran racer ask, often times plead, "Just give me some space, will ya?" as if the mere mention of one's name will be of sufficient thrust to cause every corporate boardroom the world over to put his race funding on their agenda.
Though almost caustic, the surefire solution for a racer getting a lot of press is purely elemental: regularly win and space will be regularly earned.
(That's why you should feel sorry for racing's public relations people instead of snickering when reading most post-race releases. Their "guy" can't always win but at race-end PR flaks have to put out positive spins on how "certain victory" was somehow stolen from a driver's very grasp. Doing such race after race with a straight face has gotta be tough.)
But, as any oil-blooded racer will tell you, "winning" comes right back to - you guessed it - money, because everyone in racing properly believes money to be that profession's Holy Grail.
"If only I had the latest widget," they say to themselves and anyone else who would listen, "I could win."
Then, there's the ancillary "Racer's Luck" -- something one shouldn't much believe in, actually.
"Luck" is being educated, sufficiently prepared and confident enough to recognize and seize a situation when it arises.
Life often falls together just right when one possesses knowledge, ability and is sufficiently self-assured so that one is not easily knocked off-balance when the other sides of life, a.k.a. "curveballs," are thrown at 'em.
Recently thrown such a curveball was Rolex Series driver Brian Frisselle, 23, who teams this year - alternating with older brother Burt Frisselle, 25 - with car-regular Mark Wilkins in the No. 61 "Gold" Aim Autosport Lexus-Riley.
Compiling three top-10 finishes in as many 2007 Rolex Series races, the Brothers Frisselle, who don't get to share an aggregate DP drivers' points total, have helped Wilkins drive his way into a solid fifth-place in DP points.
Expecting last summer to test Synergy Racing's Porsche-powered Doran Daytona Prototype, Brian Frisselle was served a curveball when he went to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to also find Ricky Rudd hanging around.
Certainly best known for his NASCAR Nextel Cup career - during which Rudd won 23 races and 29 poles while establishing a record 788 consecutive starts -- the Virginia driver also drove for Jack Roush and Dan Gurney in the 1986 and 1987 Rolex 24s At Daytona, respectively. Thus, Rudd knows a thing or two about road circuits beyond that ordinarily encountered in NASCAR's driving ranks.
By the way, it seems most everyone at the end of 2005, except Rudd hisownself, proclaimed the Iron Man driver "retired" -- a misconception that reared its head again earlier this year. Look, Rudd spent more than a couple of decades getting shot at while in the NASCAR trenches when his father, Alvin Rudd, passed on Aug. 30, 2005, and, from this side of the keyboard, Rudd as much as anyone deserved to take a break from it all -- especially if he wanted to do so. But Rudd personally didn't use the "R-word" to describe that break. Indeed, Rudd worded his "sabbatical" announcement to often state otherwise, closing with "I am not going far. I will be around."
Nevertheless, imagine Frisselle's surprise when he not only found Rudd at the Mid-O test, but that it was he who was going to give Rudd some DP driving pointers.
For some, such points-in-time would dictate a need of disposable diapers, babbling and, later as the driver tried his best to impress, embarrassing off-course excursions from either trying too hard or suffering from a lack of focus knowing Rudd was watching.
Frisselle isn't among them.
Not only did Frisselle also not need a pile of baby butt wipes, his personal demeanor and driving skill so impressed Rudd that it led this year's driver of Nextel Cup's No. 88 Yates Racing Ford to also "discover" the other half of the Brother's Frisselle, Burt.
On April 14 Rudd's "discoveries" head to Motor Mile Speedway near Radford, Va., for a little Saturday Night local bull ring racing in a pair of cars out of the Turn One Racing shops of NASCAR veteran and current Craftsman Truck Series driver Stacy Compton.
The idea is to nurture the two and learn if they've got what it takes to make the big time in North American automobile racing: NASCAR.
It seems kind of odd that sportscar racing’s twisty roads have led the Frisselles to an oval whose 15-degree turns are a combined 88-feet longer than the Motor Mile’s front and back straights. Perhaps it’s even stranger to the old man, Brad Frisselle, whose Can-Am Frissbees (designed by Trevor Harris) once regularly hauled butt with the likes of Al Unser Jr. driving them.
Not so, though, if one is knowledgeable, sufficiently prepared and confident enough to recognize and seize a good situation when it arises.
Good "luck," guys.
-Written exclusively for Motorsport.com by DC Williams