My love affair with motorsports is an apparent contradiction to the rest of my life. I was a tree hugging environemntalist before it was cool. My idea of heaven involves lots of trees, a lake or ocean and an assortment of wildlife. Doctor Doolittle and Swiss Family Robinson were my ideal living conditions growing up. Now I want to live on Nim's Island and not just because Gerard Butler is her father.
Yet, the one sport I have more than a passing interest in is the least environmentally friendly one out there. I don't have the statistics at my fingertips but I'm sure that one weekend of racing does more damage to the environment than I do in a year. Yet the sound of all those engines makes me crazy. I completely lose my mind. Where does that passion come from?
When I was little, my grandmother watched Formula 1 on Sundays. I can remember sitting on the arm of her chair cheering for one driver over another because that's who she told me was best.
Bright lights changed the dark track to a daytime setting on several excursions to stock car racing with my parents when I was a kid. We didn't go too often because the roar of the engines hurt my brother's ears. Spilled fuel filled my small lungs and I was hooked for life.
When my nephew was seven or eight years old, I took him to Toronto for the Molson Indy race. Nothing like spreading the addiction. The grin on his face the first time he heard the call, "Gentlemen, start your engines<" was worth every penny. We went every other year until three years ago.
That's when we went to a NASCAR race at historic Watkins Glen. Last year, he insisted on buying his dad a ticket to the race as a Father's Day gift. Now we are three.
I didn't take too many photographs as my camera decided to crash at the track. Maybe it was the pictures I was taking of the television cameras and photographer's lens. My envy made the little point and shoot feel inadequate and quit. My nephew used his cell phone so we have lots of pictures of the scenic setting. And some cows. No sheep. Sorry Stashaholic.
As I was flipping through the photographs I do have, I realized why I adore a sport that is so unlike the rest of my philosophies. Many great bonding moments have occurred with several generations over the scream of engines, whine of air guns and through a thick screen of tire smoke. Sunday is Race Day. I usually go downstairs to my parents' apartment to watch it with them, not despite my father's rants at the TV, but because of them. Racing means family.
Next time you give a character a characteristic, passion or hobby that is so alien to their personality, think about my example and root it well. Make it believable. Give it a history that defies convention. People are more complex than we tend to write.