Parc Fermé



Anybody who has any involvement whatsoever in motor racing, whether that be as a racer, in the garage, behind the scenes or as a fan will know this following quote:

“A lot of people go through life doing things badly. Racing’s important to men who do it well. When you’re racing, it’s life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.”

Of course those immortal words were uttered by the legendary Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans. We have all used it, shared it…hell I even had a tea mug with it inscribed on. The thing is, racing…well…it is life.

Let me explain.

That feeling of starting a new job, moving to a new place, the night before jetting off on holiday or meeting that special person for the first time. The bubbling excitement that builds up inside your body, every nerve twitching and standing on end. Now think of the beginning of a racing season or just before the start of a race. That’s racing. That’s life.

We have all suffered disappointment and hurt in our lives. As tragic and emotional as that is, the same can be compared to racing when you are left heartbroken or the racing family loses somebody within their midst. It’s painful. It damn well hurts like nothing you can ever imagine, unless you have been through it. Having to slowly pick up the pieces and build again, grow stronger and move forward. That’s racing. That’s life.

When that moment of utter achievement and glory washes over you. You have worked so hard for something, fought for it and given blood, sweat and tears to make sure that it all came together at the best possible moment. The success. In racing this is no different. What people see in life is you, with that success and a big smile but they do not see the sacrifice and passion away from the plaudits and back-slapping. The hours put in. When a race fan sees the car or bike pass the finish line, the last thought on their mind is the pain-staking work that has gone on behind the scenes to make that win possible. It is not until after the champagne has flowed and the cheers have died down when thoughts turn to how it all came together. That’s racing. That’s life.

Being so dedicated to something that at times, friends, family and loved ones have had to watch from afar so that you could achieve your dream and make everything possible. The missed birthdays, that last minute call that you have to take which means you miss out on some quality time with those who deserve your attention the most. This is no different in life than it is in racing. Sacrifices can sometimes yield great success, but other times it all comes to nothing. That’s racing. That’s life.

Falling in love and being passionate about something or someone you care so much about. Putting every piece of emotion you have into a cherished moment because you are so scared that if you don’t give this opportunity your most desirable attention, you will lose and those moments will be gone forever. That’s racing. That’s life.

Knowing that you are not always going to win and there will be days when the dark clouds gather overhead and as much you love what you are doing and what is involved, everybody has a bad day. You just can’t win every single time. There will be people waiting for you to falter, to make a mistake and they will pounce, taking advantage of your weakness. That’s racing. That’s life.

And when the dust settles, after everything you have put into your passion, your love, your life there will be moments when you can stand back and survey what has been achieved and with a wry smile, even through the dark times, you can be proud that you gave it your best. Whatever the outcome. That’s racing. That’s life.

Finally, hopes and dreams. We all hope to be the best we can and that one day all our dreams, the things we want the most in life will come together and at last, after so many attempts, we made it. That’s racing. That’s life.

It was only recently after changes in my own life that I gave this topic some thought. It quickly dawned on me that people, like racers, are not perfect. Yes we succeed, but we also fail and it is how you deal with that failure which makes you the person or the racer you will surely become.

So, Mr. McQueen. You were right. Racing is life, but life is also racing. And anything that happens before or after….really is just waiting. Waiting for that special moment.

Life, as it is in racing, is important to those who do it well.

Neil Simmons


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