FOR SYLVAIN In an annual New Year's rite that kick-starts the motorsports season, the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 annually starts the racing world's motor oil pumping with its early January Test Days at Daytona...
In an annual New Year's rite that kick-starts the motorsports season, the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 annually starts the racing world's motor oil pumping with its early January Test Days at Daytona International Speedway.
There to begin SpeedSource's defense of its 2008 Rolex 24 GT crown, Sylvain Tremblay wasted little time in getting the Castrol Syntec pumping - on the first day setting the quickest lap around Daytona International Speedway's 3.56-mile race track.
So fast was Tremblay and his No. 70 Mazda RX-8's lap time that it would stand until the three-day test was fewer than 30-minutes from conclusion.
Yet, approaching him not long after that first-day fast lap, there was a look previously unseen in Tremblay's eyes.
Soon facing him at less than arm's length, Sylvain's tired face looked as though sleep had eluded him for a thousand nights.
With words yet to be spoken, at one moment there was a frantic look to his eyes, as though Sylvain desperately was trying to find someone who had just gone missing. A split-second later they went vacant, reflective of a confused brain jolted awake from a deep and frightening slumber.
Cocking his head slightly while locking down a blue-eyed stare rimmed in tears, Sylvain said, "DC, it's just so tough, just so tough to be here without her, you know?"
Said in a slightly quivering voice by a guy possessing near-legendary nerves of steel, Sylvain spoke words having far greater quantity than the relatively few given breath. And though barely audible, their lingering echo was such that the track's calamitous mechanical noise was quickly overshadowed.
For the first time in years, Carol Campbell Tremblay wasn't at the test. It was also the first time Carol really, actually couldn't be at Sylvain's side.
In fact, Carol will never again be at Sylvain's side after having been fatally injured in - of all things - a car crash on a public road near the Tremblay's Coral Springs, Fla., home.
When they first dated, excepting perhaps their blue eyes, most saw the two as having little in common.
Where Carol was college-educated, Sylvain came up through the school of hard knocks.
Where Carol had a degree in English; Sylvain was brought into a world which largely spoke French.
Somehow, in each other the two saw as much as was needed in the other. With both willing to give as much as possible to the other, Sylvain and Carol eventually made a home far from where each had spent their respective youth.
Sylvain and Carol's sons, Daniel Colin Tremblay, 9 years, and Alec Benjamin Tremblay, 6 years, will never again have their mother guiding them through these critical years of young life nor, even worse, feel the warmth of her calming, reassuring and loving embrace.
Throughout the years unwaveringly standing with Sylvain in his pursuit of excellence, Carol one year ago absolutely reveled in her husband having realized one the highest of his professions' achievements: a Rolex 24 At Daytona victory.
A win that Sylvain quickly also attributed to Carol.
Sylvain, if such could quickly mend the great chasm now found in your heart and soul, I'd repeat those words and phrases for which all of us search and, sometimes in a bumbling, stumbling way, try to convey at times such as these.
But by now you know as well as anyone that those words really do little to take away a hurt so deep that it's unimaginable to most. That is, until that hurt actually occurs to each.
Your question having been pondered at length since it was posed, Sylvain, I don't know that it can be answered and I'm not really sure just how difficult of a time it truly must be for you - though all of us in our own way and time probably will, someday.
Even though rationale tells me it's unavoidable, all things considered, I'd really rather that day wouldn't come.
Just as I wish it hadn't for you.
Exclusively written for Sylvain Tremblay at Motorsport.com.