Monday, November 21, 2022

The A Team

The final checkered flags flew, the 25th running of the SKUSA SuperNats had come to a thrilling conclusion after five days. My muscles ached, my feet were blistered, and five days of extreme adrenaline was now over, and I became sad. I wasn't sad over the loss of being so close to the action (and sometimes, too close) or the indescribable atmosphere that almost 600 racers from 60 countries brings. Nope. What made me sad was the ending of being on a team that worked seamlessly together.

It's difficult, unless you see the SuperNats, to know just how intense it is. The racetrack is a temporary circuit with barriers lining the track and trouble can escalate quickly when this occurs. It is at this point that, everyone working together, has to 100% know what the other is going to do. It's odd for me to say this, but the teamwork that's needed came easy to me.

I've never been a team player. I don't mean this in the sense of, "there's no I in team but there's a ME!" What I mean is that I am always on the wrong beat of the drum, or that I instantly think my teammates will know what I expect and do it simply because I know what should happen. Team sports were never my thing but working ground level on a track is a different animal altogether and the slightest error could have dire consequences. 

Being a member of a team is something I've heard is difficult for many on the spectrum. In school, I loathed group projects. I didn't want to rely on someone else when I could do it myself. It wasn't easy to just let others control my fate, but on the racetrack, that teamwork is paramount.

When an incident would occur in my section, it became to a point that nothing needed to be said as to who would cover, who would rotate, who would respond, and what the sequence of events would be to clean the track. Mind you, this is all happening on a track that has about 40 karts making a lap under 50 seconds. There's not much time, and as mentioned, the stakes are high because we are putting ourselves in the line of fire.

It just wasn't in my area that this unspoken teamwork developed. We were 11 different turn stations operating as one unit and as I sit here at the airport, not even 24 hours removed from that exhilarating and dangerous environment, I'm craving it again. 

Maybe this is an indescribable event. Perhaps there isn't a way to relate to you what it is like to fully trust those around you when life and limb is on the line. I wish there was an easier way to experience this. Why couldn't I have done this in school, or at other jobs? Whatever the case, the offseason begins now. The wait for the race season starts now. It'll come soon enough with SKUSA in January and INDYCAR in February, but until then I'll be dreaming of the time I just had with full trust, excitement, and working with a track full of friends.

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