My first race of the year is in the books and what an event it was! The competition on the track was amazing as the USAC .25 series put on an amazing show in San Bernadino, California. While I was there in full capacity as the chief starter there was another aspect to this race as it was the first event that I was using the Blue Wave checkered flag.
As drivers were registering I had the flag displayed and many of the drivers, and parents, asked, "What's that flag?" which is exactly the response I was looking for. I didn't go into full presentation mode, but I did say April is autism awareness month and in honor of it I would be using a blue and white flag instead of the traditional black and white. Responses were along the lines of, "Awesome!" "That's cool!" and "Super!"
Another aspect that I came up with was to use a new flag at each event and raffle off the flag used at each event and have the main event winners sign the flag with the money going towards Easter Seals Midwest to promote autism awareness and understanding. I do have to admit it was an odd feeling for myself having the worlds of my full-time job and fun-job combine, but at the same time it gave me this strange sense of conviction and confidence.
At the driver's and handler's meeting on Friday I was given a few minutes to explain the flag (I did have to tell all the drivers what was going to be used as the checkered) but also the reasons as to why the checkered would be different. While I did explain what Easter Seals Midwest does, and the new rate of autism which had just been announced, I locked up when I wanted to state, "And this cause, for me, is personal as I do have the diagnosis of Asperger's." as I was in my racing "Alias." What I said worked, but I felt as if I failed afterwards to explain why this project means so much to myself.
The rest of the two race days I felt as if I let someone down; I didn't know who, but whenever I want to say something and don't it tends to haunt me.
Despite the haunting of my lack of words it was a great feeling to have flags in hand and to have a job to do at the race track. It had been over four months so I was elated to be back and it ended all too soon when it did, but when the final checkered flew it was now time to give away a flag.
At the podium ceremonies each time a winner stepped of the top rung of the podium they walked over to left and signed their name on the flag. In watching the drivers sign the flag I couldn't help but smile as, and this might sound a bit egotistical, just how awesome of a concept and raffle this was. In the end we raised over $600 which I think is an absolutely amazing total and I am so ever thankful that USAC has allowed The Blue Wave to take place over this past weekend and at several upcoming events as we're going to be able to continue to raise some money, awareness, and visibility of the autism spectrum. And not only that, but for one family they're going to receive a priceless memento. Speaking of the memento, when the winner was announced I was told to pose with the winner which I am not used to being photographed at a racetrack (unless I have a flag in hand) much less in victory lane, but here it is, the first winner of the Blue Wave.