Make Your Last One Your Best One

This weekend my father and I returned to the beautiful Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Every year since NASCAR has raced there, we have had made sure to go. It wasn’t just another weekend for us, it is possibly the last one we will share at this facility.

Every year when we go we bring a cribbage board, we have kept score through the years. We have always played to break ties when they have occurred, so we know who won the year. This year we started 3-3. This morning we ended it, 3-3-1.

Every year I would buy and event program and he would buy an event t-shirt. We each have our own collections. It makes for just an interesting novelty. This year, neither of us bought our keepsake.

This year was no ordinary year. In January I will move to North Carolina. The plan has been set in motion and it is just time for it to happen. If I want to get any further in the sport that I love, I have to make this change. This change that literally changes everything.

After a weekend of joy and fun, happiness and celebration, work and relaxation, my world has changed forever. Good people make the world move. At least they make my world move. Many of the best people I know are in NASCAR at some level, being around those good people is what life is all about to me.

I could go over all the great times that were had this year, but too many don’t belong written down, only remembered. Just as in years past, the best times are always treasured and remembered and shared face to face, the way great stories should be told. This year, was the best year. Wins are great on the track, but wins in life are even greater.

As I move forward with this journey in life I will always look back to this weekend and think to myself, “That is how I want every weekend to be.” Good times. Great people. Lots of fun. Living in the moment.

Thank you Road America for providing the soil for these roots to grow. I started the first year as just a fan, I leave this year knowing I will always be something more than that. I can truly say that Road America is a magical place, a place to learn, a place to live, a place to grow. As I pulled out today knowing there is a chance that I may never be again, I smiled away what could be tears.

As Chris LeDoux so wonderfully sang, “Make your last one your best one…” That is just what I did.

May we meet again, old friend.

Small Team, Big Family.

In life we are all blessed with certain things; friends, family, people you know and love. Sometimes we get lucky and we fall in love with something so much bigger, a sport. I speak of course about NASCAR, today. Something that has given me years of fun and laughter, friends aplenty, and great times.

My father and I have come to the NASCAR XFINITY Racing Series event at Road America every year. The past three years we have been welcomed by multiple teams. First, Derrike Cope Racing. Then Derrike Cope Racing and Richard Childress Racing both welcomed us in 2016 and we were fortunate enough to be with the 2 team when they won.

This weekend I have the good fortune to be attached to BJ McLeod Motorsports for the Road America weekend. This small team is bigger than most realize. Not just in heart or in passion or even work ethic. This small team treats everyone around them like you hope a big team would, with hospitality and grace, comfort and welcoming smiles.

When I first signed up with BJ McLeod Motorsports to assist with their social media, I didn’t know what I was in for. What I found was a family, welcoming and loving of all new members. A team that loves all people in their circle. This team doesn’t know negative, they look for positives, they take comfort in improvement and good runs.

Winning, it’s not just about trophies and money. No. That’s not always real winning. Real winning is going out there and knowing your purpose; to entertain fans and enjoy the moment. Have some fun and at the end of the day maybe you celebrate with a good finish. That’s winning on a small team. This team knows these things all too well.

This is a team that not only works together and lives together; they sacrifice together and they spend quality time together. BJ McLeod Motorsports is a team that forms a bond with their members, bonds forged in the heat of battle, at the height of stress and fatigue. It is a family that I can only compare to the family I shared in the Army; a family that is so close and tight but still welcoming of all who enter.

As I lay here in the infield of Road America, I realize one thing, one fact that actually kind of makes me sad. After the race is over, the Beast is put away, the truck is loaded, and the engine started… I will have to say goodbye to this team, this family who has welcomed us with open arms. You hear other fans talk about the team and the experience and how great it is, then you experience it and realize that when they head home and you head home, you will feel as though a part of you has gone missing.

There will be other races for me this year and I will still talk to them during the week, every week, but it is a sense of loss. How can one team make everyone feel like such a part of the family? The answer is simple, all of us who wrap our arms around this team, receive the same in return. It is a true family. One that I will love and remember for all my days. I still have some time left, though it is fleeting, I will enjoy every last minute of it.

And when they turn those wheels south and head back to Mooresville, only one song will play in my head.

“Oh won’t you stay… just a little bit longer…”
-Jackson Browne-