Like many Americans I lost my full time job in the recession. My job just happened to be a mechanic for a professional NASCAR team. This is the point I started exploring the writing world.
I have enjoyed it quite a bit, and look forward to continuing. But on another bright note my unemployment for the previous sixteen months has come to an end. In a true case of coming full circle, I have returned to the last company I worked with before departing on the several years-long journey of race team competition.
A nice touch to it all is I get to stay within the motorsports industry. Goodridge Corporation provides fittings and hoses to many auto-racing clients. Just as in life, businesses evolve also and I need to relearn the company. But several familiar and friendly faces again surround me. My years of racing experience can still be put to good use.
A few friends have already brought up the point of someday returning to race teams. Judging from their reaction, I think I surprised a few people with my answer. Basically, I am not interested in doing so.
In quitting my current position and joining a NASCAR Cup, Nationwide, or Truck organization if the economy and sponsorship allow, the potential for a large pay increase exists. But then the instability returns.
No business is immune to the peaks and valleys of global economics. But I will lay my odds with a racing-related company versus an actual racing team.
My resume reads like I wish it wouldn’t, with short-term job tenures. I have been with teams for time limits of two months, five months, 10 months, 14 months, 15 months, and nine months. I have lost employment because sponsorship was not renewed, crew chiefs changed and their buddies took my job, and an old racing adage “just because.”
Living alone and in an apartment, I rolled with the racing world’s punches better. Now I look at my wife and children and feel a much greater sense of responsibility to them. I love to race. I love providing for my family even more.
Goodridge has challenges like any other company. Corporate backing loss and the general manager buddy system are not among them.
I am not sure if I am walking away from racing teams or the racing teams walked away from me. It doesn’t matter. It is safe to say after 25 years in the competition end of the sport, that chapter may be now closed to me. I am all right with that.
Quite a few of my friends can be seen on NASCAR television coverage. On Saturday they will be changing rear springs or swapping caster slugs in happy hour trying to gain a precious tenth of a second lap time. I miss the competition. But when I was at the speedway I missed my family, who was a plane ride away.
Beautiful spring, summer, and autumn days will be spent here at home or with my friends going to the local tracks, where racers compete strictly for the love of the sport and spending, not making, money to be there.
For now, don’t look for me grabbing wrenches to adjust truck arm slugs. You can find me either behind a keyboard writing about others surviving at the speedway, in a press box or pit area at your local track on a Saturday night, or possibly even at my neighborhood playground.
I will be the Dad pushing his little girl on the swing set. And having the time of my life.
(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR mechanic who contributes to the One and Done auto racing radio talk show Tuesdays at 11am ET. Listen at www.wsicweb.com)