Like most fathers to their sons, mine was immortal, a legend really. Some of my favorite memories are sitting around as a family and listening to his tall tales, all of which he swore were true. Some stories could be verified, like the time he rescued a puppy he didn’t like from a man he liked even less all because he loved my sister. One of my favorites involves him coming upon a concrete bridge that was on fire, and walking across it anyway. Perhaps one day I’ll tell that one, but for now it remains too close to my heart, too personal to share.
My father raced stock cars in the early days of the sport. During the years 1957 through 1963, he and his best friend helped define a sport. They raced on the East Coast circuit in cars that they built themselves. They entered as many races as they could afford, close to three hundred, alternating the driving and pit duties between them. It has been said that my father was fearless when he drove, chewing up the oval track when there was room, making a space when there wasn’t. I never got to see him drive, but I’ve seen the fearlessness in him all my life.
Though he loved the sport, and had the chance to be one of the greats, he quit when the first of his children were born. It was a dangerous sport in those days, and he wanted to see his kids grow up.
He could have been legendary to the world. In his racing career, he took first place in every race he ran.
Every single one.
Nearly three hundred in all.
He could have been legendary to the world, but instead he chose to be legendary on a much smaller scale.