STATESVILLE, N.C. (May 1, 2003) -- While most NASCAR Winston Cup drivers are fortunate to travel the extensive schedule with their families, journeyman Japanese driver Hideo Fukuyama's family is usually more than 1,800 miles away. That gap will be...
STATESVILLE, N.C. (May 1, 2003) -- While most NASCAR Winston Cup drivers are fortunate to travel the extensive schedule with their families, journeyman Japanese driver Hideo Fukuyama's family is usually more than 1,800 miles away. That gap will be closed this weekend, however, when Fukuyama enjoys a rare visit from his wife at the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Fukuyama's wife, Tayomi, is coming to the U.S., to join him in celebrating a week of Japanese holidays, known as 'Golden Week.' 'Golden Week' culminates on May 5 with 'Children's Day,' a day that Japanese families set aside to honor their children. Although Fukuyama's two children, (Ryotaro, age 10, Saho, age 8) will remain in Japan for the holiday week, he will be recognizing them in a special way this weekend.
"In Japan, Children's Day reminds you of your goal to raise strong, healthy children," explains the rookie Winston Cup driver. "I've always been appreciative of my family because they raised me to be strong and work hard to achieve my dreams. Now it's my turn to do these things for my children. This year, because I am racing, I do what I can through email and phone calls. This weekend, I am going to send them a special message."
As a message to their children, Tayomi has brought the traditional and colorful carp banners (koinobori, pronounced KOY E NO BO RI) and windsocks that are usually displayed to wish children a good future. Fukuyama will be flying the carp, atop his No. 66 Kikkoman transporter during the race this weekend at the three-quarter-of-a-mile oval.
Typically, the banners diminish in size from the top to the bottom of the pole, each child in the family represented by a different banner. According to Japanese beliefs, carp are the most spirited of fish, fighting their way up swift-running rivers. This quality makes them the ideal symbol of the courage and determination that children need to overcome life's difficulties and attain their goals.
"Being away from my children is difficult," Fukuyama continued. "But, I know they support me and I am teaching them that if they have dreams, they should follow them -- no matter where they take you."
A symbol of this holiday himself, Fukuyama's determination to overcome difficulties and reach his goals is always prevalent in his approach to racing.