Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vicarious Macho Racer

You know I have never been a big fan of most kinds of ultra touch and macho racing. It is not just that I am perpetually slow or my machines are just as sluggish too. I have never quite figured out what the attraction is to the noise, cost, and risk. I even forced myself to watch a NASCAR race all the way through to see if I could get caught up in the moment. I did find myself oddly attracted to the driver cameras and fancy TV production graphics, so technology thumbs up but the race – not so much.

My wife is preparing to co-pilot a plane in the all women’s ‘Air Race Classic’ in June (43 days away). It was dubbed the Powder Puff Derby in 1929 when it was began by Amelia Earhart and other pioneer women aviators. She will be flying for and sponsored by the Wings of Hope charity. Air races like this fly thousands of miles over many states and are judged more on efficiency than speed. But like any race, the planes are numbered and have to follow strict rules on their equipment, procedures, and adherence to safety.

So over the last few weeks we have been getting the plane ready with upgraded avionics, back-up equipment, and the racing fan favorite – those giant RACING NUMBERS. That is more of a chore than you might imagine. I was amazed at how many type of numbers and racing graphics are out there for homegrown racers beyond the NASCAR set. There are midget car racers, stock cars, bombers, Baja Bug, and even tractor numbers. Some have outlines, shadows, ovals, flames – you name it, you can get numbers in any color and in any font.

So I suddenly see what folks REALLY like about racing. It has nothing to do with the determined drive to win. Nobody truly cares about machines driven with gloved expertise or the labored whine of highly tuned motors pushed to the limit. No it is all about the machismo of the fancy decorations, high profile sponsors, and bold numbered decals plastered all over the vehicle. Maybe I can convince my wife to vicariously live an airplane racer’s speed dream? I can’t wait to put those ‘flame’ decals pouring out of the enormous and manly 135 horsepower motor. I’ll add some crossed checkered flags, a couple of American flags, and oh yeah – those big gaudy, PINK flamingo colored, numbers on the side!

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