The final race of the 2011 season at Evergreen Speedway was a blast. Our car was simply awesome, and the crowd was full of people from The Rock because we were having the LIFE Conference. My friend, coach and mentor Dr. Sam Chand was in the crowd taking in his first race.
The car had been amazing the last few races of the season. We unloaded and struggled a bit in practice. After a few deliberations, John and Steve cracked the code of why some minor changes we made to the setup did not work. They adjusted the car.
The race was 100 laps, but with threatening rain, we knew it could be shortened. I started outside row 2 in the 4th position. On the initial start I moved to 3rd, and we were riding nose to tail with the top 5 for quite a few laps. A caution led to a restart and I was able to move to 2nd.
For the rest of the race my car was really good. I had the chance to try Daniel Moore, who was leading, on the high and low side of the track quite a few times. A battle was ensuing, and it was fun. Finally, on lap 91 I was able to get it done, move to first and drive away by a few car lengths to take the victory.
My highpoint: Winning was so important for my team. We had a very challenging year, and if I didn’t win this night it would have been a long off season. However, there was this moment I have to talk about.
I’ve played sports my whole life. On several occasions I experienced a “hot streak’ or as some call it “the zone.” For me, it’s this euphoric mental state where your focus and senses are absolutely sharp as a ginseng knife! It was after a restart, Daniel left the door open, and for a few laps I was so focused I knew there was no way I’d lose the race. I’d never experienced that in a race car before. Funny thing was, the focus didn’t last. Because at the end of the race after passing Dan all I could think of was blowing the lead! To put my mind at ease I thought of the last scene of the movie Secretariat, where Big Red is running from the field and leaving them in his dust. I thought about that movie to calm my nerves and drive perfect laps!
note: Roxy, the girl in the picture, I led her and her husband to Christ at The Rock Church a couple months ago. I am so proud of who they are, and what God is doing in their lives.
My previous post on racing was about “pounding the wall.” The crash resulted in what would become the most memorable experience in my racing life to date. I am writing this 6 week post the events that happened, but felt I needed to make a memory of the generosity of so many people. I love this picture above, because as you can see I am in a different car, a great car. Only because of the generosity of so many people.
Unloading my race car at the shop the night I crashed I figured my season was over. I was out of resources to rebuild, and planned on working the rest of the season and off season to get something ready for 2012. But that ‘s when God had something different in mind.
People in the racing world started offering support, some even giving me some money. Then one of the guys on my team, JZ, who also goes to The Rock shared his testimony of how his life was changed by being introduced to Christ because of meeting me at the track. Well, his story called many people to action. In less than 24 hours I received $2,400 to rebuild.
On Monday night I received a call from some business men in our church. They told me, and I’ll quote the best I can, “Jeff, we realized on Sunday the only reason we are serving the Lord. The passion we feel about Jesus, our lives, marriages and children has a lot more to do with you driving a race car than we ever considered until this past weekend.” They went on to say, “Whatever you need to fix the car, we will give you the rest!” I was blown away. 72 hours after I crashed I bought a roller (a car without engine and tranny) for less money than it would have taken to fix the one I crashed!
I was so motivated to make these people who had helped me proud the team worked round the clock to make the race the next Saturday. It was a double header on the 3/8’s.
We unloaded; the car was a bullet. In the first race we led almost the whole thing, but coming to the white flag the #00 dumped me, I ended up 2nd. In the second race the car was even better, but a part failure relegated us to 5th place.
We went to yakima the next weekend, and I qualified the fastest at YS in my 5 or 6 times racing there. We led for the first part of the race, but after an oil spill on the track the car was never the same, we finished 10th.
We came back to Monroe, and almost broke the track record in qualifying with a 16.390, only .027 off the record. We went on to finish 2nd that night because the race trim was just a tick off, and although I was faster than the winner, I didn’t want to dump him to win.
And then, the next race we won, as highlighted above.
I look back on the last 6 weeks of the racing season, and I can’t believe I even got to race, let alone run so good. It’s been an incredible jounrey. One I have a thousand people to thank.
Mostly, I want to say thank you to Steve, John, James, Stevie, Tony, Eddie, Scott, Geoff, Stefanie, Dan, Lani and others on the team. Also, without Steve, Sound Advice; Jenny and Ryan, Snohomish Pie Company; Matt, Westcoast Autoworks; Jason and Beth, Diet-doc.com; John and Stef, JZ Motorsports; Fred and Jaylene, Streamline Automotive; Tracy, Deyoung.inc; and Dan and Tiffany, Domino’s Pizza in Monroe, as well as others I couldn’t get it done in 2011. Thanks to all my partners. I am a blessed man!
Please do me a favor. Support those people who support my endeavor to have my team, car and driver bring glory and excellence to Jesus!
Finally, Thank you to Melinda Knight, the absolute woman of my dreams. We celebrated 20 years married this year, and she is the most supportive, caring and competitive fan I have! Love you baby.