Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chaplain to the pit crew

This blog is not intended to be a record of and forum for commentary on the news in the Anglican Communion or The Episcopal Church. The previous two posts were written as commentary on a post on Mark Harris's Blog, Preludium, which I had found profoundly helpful and moving and courageous, and so I responded through this blog, and accepted the comments which came, most of the posters having found my words helpful.

This post is something entirely different. My Beloved and I have been married for over 27 years. In the first years of our marriage, when I was in my mid thirties, he introduced me to road racing.

Now, I cannot abide watching Nascar type, oval track racing. Not my cup of tea. However, road racing, which was originally run on the streets of towns like Le Mans and Watkins Glen, is absolutely my passion. Formula 1 grand prix racing is the only sport I can endure - and enjoy! - watching on television.

Back more than twenty-five years ago, Newlin took me to the road races at Summit Point West Virginia. We camped in a tent for the weekend, in the woods, and there I fell in love, with the cars, with the track itself, with the drama of an auto race the whole of which no can ever see, except from the air, the thrill of not knowing if your favorite will survive the part of the race you can't see, the canvas-ripping scream of the 12 cylinder Ferrari's, the ground pounding sound of the Can Am V-8's, the sound of a hive of angry bees made by the small bore engines just screaming their little hearts out as they drive down the straight. The magic of the insider language - pit row, the paddocks, the esses, the chicanes, the back straight - oh I can't wait to get up to Lime Rock Park here in Connecticut soon.

There is nothing, for me, like posting myself on the infield hill overlooking the esses at Lime Rock. How many times have I drawn that wonderful curve, and the tree to the left of it, just in the center, and it was there I learned how to capture cars racing around those esses with a little point and shoot camera, with which panning is absolutely impossible and absurd.

But in August, ah August, while I am on vacation, I will spend as much of my time as I can with Newlin at Watkins Glen International Speedway, where with a proper Nikon, I learned that I have a natural gift for panning and shooting race cars. Road racing had its start in Watkins Glen on the streets of the town. You can follow the posted signs today to drive that same course, and have your heart chilled by your imagination as you approach a bridge the crossing of which at race speeds must have been daunting.

Watkins Glen and Lime Rock, my two absolute favorite road race courses. Lime Rock, a short, tight course, a real challenge for drivers used to the longer courses like Watkins Glen. And the mystique of Watkins Glen with its guardrails painted "Watkins Glen Blue". I have had the delight to be a passenger on both tracks, driving at race speed. On Lime Rock, I was driven by a former race driver and instructor for Skip Barber. 110 miles per hour on some of the tightest curves around, he told Newlin, "I kept waiting for her to throw up, but she never did, so I just went faster!"

At Watkins Glen, passenger in a Ferrari, averaging 140 mph, for 7 laps, twenty minutes, on the weekend before my last chemo therapy treatment. Absolute triumph!

Newlin is a free lance photographer. His specialty is photographing high performance cars driving at top performance on road tracks - Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, Pocono, New Hampshire. You can find his website at (hope I've followed my linking instructions correctly! This is an experiment.) Newlin is well respected in the field. Anyway, he is at Watkins Glen this week, and he has been encouraged to ask if I, your humble correspondent, might give the invocation for the vintage festival the weekend after Labor Day. Can you just imagine how thrilled I am? Even to be considered...gosh.

Not to go all theological on you, but I wish, sometimes, that I could get that much passion for God or Jesus as I have when I think of road racing, and Lime Rock, and Watkins Glen, and the people and the cars they drive. I have to believe that this is how I love God, through those things which delight God's creatures. I have to believe that my delight is, to God, as much worship as what I do on a Sunday morning, which I also love and in which I also delight.

No comments: