Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Racing Gods?

I seem to be the rare lefty who likes auto racing. My background is engineering, and to me, a major automobile race is a fascinating contest of engineering between large teams. The teams have engineering projects due with a hard and fast deadline. The date and time of the race is set, and the teams have to be ready. A different world from software where being months late on a project seemed to be considered normal.

Thus, I enjoy spending the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend watching the big auto races.

Now, one of the things I do is that I usually root against all the military sponsored cars. NASCAR is the worst, as there are usually multiple cars sponsored by wings of the military. And in IndyCar, there's been a National Guard sponsored car for the last few years.

At Indy this year, the National Guard car was leading the race on the last lap. A rookie who seems to be a very good driver named J.R. Hildebrand looked like he was going to win the Indy 500 on his first try. A rather remarkable feat. But, then in the last corner of the last lap, he made a rookie mistake. And it was one that sent his car crashing into the wall. He was so close to the finish when he hit the wall that he still finished second as his car slid across the finish line.

I feel bad for the kid. But, unless this makes him a head case, he looks good enough that he'll get another chance to win. But, I do have to admit that I had a smile on my face as I realized the National Guard car wasn't going to win.

Then, that night, the NASCAR boys were racing their 600 mile race at Charlotte. And again, in the last lap, the car sponsored by the National Guard was leading the race. And again, in the final corner, the car ran out of fuel and lost the lead. This time Dale Earnhardt Jr was the driver. He was in the lead because he'd gambled on having fuel left when the more prudent drivers had stopped to top up.

But, still, I couldn't help but notice that in both races, a car with National Guard logos on it seemed to be about to win the race, but then suddenly had a problem at the last turn on the track and failed to win.

Could it be that there's a God in heaven looking down? Could it be that this God can see how many young men and women might be lured into joining the military if this car won the race? Can this God see how many are going to die and never come back home? Can this God see how many are going to be maimed and wounded? Can this God see how many will come back psychologically scarred because of what they have to do?

Once was interesting. But to watch two cars sponsored by the National Guard both have sudden problems in the last corner of the last lap of the race does make one wonder if God looked down from heaven and decided that the lives of many young people might just be better off if these cars didn't win these races.

Over the next few weeks, if you see pictures of the winning car of the Indianapolis 500 and the Charlotte 600, what you won't be seeing is a recruiting ad for the National Guard.

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