You know it’s been a long pandemic when Nascar is being a beacon for civil and human rights issues.
If you follow it at all, you will know that this is not generally the image and demographic that they cater to. To be fair, our family is the opposite of that, yet have been Nascar fans since our kids were little. I honestly don’t know how it started, but we’ve seen a race at Daytona, our daughter still has an email with Jeff Gordon’s name in it, and our son only wore orange clothes until he was in upper elementary school because his favorite driver Tony Stewart drove the orange Home Depot car.
I swear they even talked with southern accents for a time in their early development, having listened to the announcers week after week. Don’t judge! Lol.
To see Nascar support their only Black driver, Bubba Wallace, and the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as banning the Confederate flag at races, were welcome but surprise moments.
So why write about Nascar on this, the eve before we return to schools after five months away due to COVID 19?
Because we actually have a lot in common.
When Nascar started back with racing, they tried to keep things as normal as possible, but implemented many restrictions at the track. They use a condensed schedule, have strict track access, no fans allowed in the beginning, and only 16 people on the track per team.
Despite all their precautions, one of their most-winningest drivers, Jimmie Johnson, tested positive early on with the virus. (He got 3rd today though, so he’s all good!)
The biggest change though, is that they have eliminated practice and qualifying sessions. Usually the teams would get a chance to drive the track, make changes to the cars, and have a fairly predictable set up before the race. Now, drivers only get to check out the track when they climb in the windows of their cars right before they drop the flag for the actual race.
So how do they adjust? Are they stuck with a set-up that doesn’t work with track conditions?
It’s actually kind of ingenious.
They run a few laps of the race, then there is a new optional pit stop called a “competition caution” where teams pull in and make adjustments on-the-fly.
As always, the communication between the crew chief and the driver in the moment is crucial. The driver gives feedback on how the car is handling and the crew chief and pit crew do the best they can to sort it out, in the shortest amount of time possible.
Any of this starting to sound familiar? Lol.
No matter how we start out, we will continually be making changes. Communication amongst staff, admin, parents, and students will be of utmost importance. We will try, and fail, but we will also learn as we go. Although our experience won’t literally have crashes as they do on the track.
As driver Brad Keselowski said, “You hope everybody is smart and that they take chances…you have to take chances to learn. But by the same token, you hope they don’t take chances that are potentially lethal to everyone else’s day and causes big wrecks. Everybody has different motivations, challenges, goals, and they all kind of get thrown into this big pot (at Talledaga) with no practice. We’ll see what happens.”
I love how he says “you have to take chances to learn.” I heard something similar from an announcer in today’s race: “They’ll be learning every single lap. Let’s see who learns the quickest.” That should be a Sask Health Authority slogan because I'm pretty sure that's what they have been doing since March.
For Nascar teams and drivers, the end goal is a win.
For us, it will be providing a safe place for learning in uncertain times.
But regardless, this African proverb seems to work for both: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Welcome back everyone! I won’t say that we’ve got this…I’m not at that level of confidence lol…but we can do this.
Yep, we can.
See you tomorrow peeps! It’s been five months - I can hardly wait one more night!!
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