A couple weeks ago, I spent every night of the week working on my race car. Each afternoon, I rushed home from work, changed clothes, grabbed a snack, then kissed my wife and told her goodbye.
I drove across town to my father’s shop where we worked until 10 or 11 o’clock trying to get my car together for the first race of the season. By the time I got home each night, my wife and son had long since gone to bed.
Saturday was race day. I left home around nine o’clock in the morning and worked on the car until it was time to load up and head to the track late Saturday afternoon. My wife didn’t come to the races. Our son had been sick earlier in the week, so the two of them stayed home rather than spending all evening in the cool February air.
The races ended early that night. By 8:30 I had sent my wife a text to let her know I had finished second and I was fixing to load up and head home. “I’ll be home in an hour,” my text read.
“Great!” she replied. “We miss you.”
I sent back the heart emoji.
Less than five minutes later, a man from Louisiana walked up and bought my race car. Since he didn’t have his trailer, he paid us to take the car to his house three hours away.
So, off to Louisiana we went.
It was 8:00 Sunday morning before I finally made it home. I ate a bowl of cereal, got a shower, and went to bed. I didn’t get up until 2:00 in the afternoon.
It had been a long week that required a lot of hard work. It also required me to spend a lot of time away from my wife, and at dinner Sunday night, she finally said the words that I knew were coming.
“You know,” she began, “you’ve really stretched my patience thin this week.”
“I know. I promise I’ll make it up to you,” I told her.
“Great!” she said. “You can start by doing the dishes.”
My wife’s name is Shadow, and she’s all I could have hoped and dreamed for in a wife. I often find myself wondering how I was so blessed to not only find her, but to also convince her to marry me.
Among Shadow’s many amazing qualities is her willingness to put up with my racing habit. We’ve been married for nearly six years now, and we were together for more than ten years before that. A lot of things have changed in the decade and a half she and I have been together, but one constant has been racing and the passion I have for it. I was racing when we started dating all those years ago, and I’m still racing now. Hopefully, I’ll continue racing for many years to come.
But I wouldn’t race if I didn’t have her support.
Some racers are fortunate in that their significant other loves racing just as much as they do. They’re right there with them working on the car in the shop. They help them load it and they jump in the passenger seat just as excited to head to the track as their spouse, maybe even more so.
My wife isn’t that way. My wife doesn’t love racing. She just happened to marry a man who does.
She doesn’t make it to the track for every single race, and she very rarely helps me work on my car. As a matter of fact, if I were to take the money I got for selling my car and, instead of buying a new one, use it to pay bills or to go on a nice vacation, she’d be perfectly happy.
But while my wife may not be in love with racing, she loves me, so she supports me anyway. The support I get from her is a crucial kind of support, because without it, I wouldn’t be able to go racing in the first place. She may not scrape mud or air up tires, but she supports me by making sacrifices so that I can do what I love.
Some of the sacrifices are financial. There are a lot of nice things she would like to have: a bigger house, a newer car, a backyard pool. And she would love to go on a nice vacation: hiking in the Grand Canyon, relaxing on a cruise to the Bahamas, or sightseeing in New York City.
Those things and places sound nice, but it’s hard to afford them and have a race car.
She also sacrifices time so that I can race. Our three-year-old son loves racing, but there are a lot of weekends when he doesn’t get to go to the track and there are many nights when he isn’t able to hangout in the shop. There will come a time when he’s big enough to go to every race and old enough to stay up late in the garage, but for now, his mama picks up a lot of my slack.
On the occasional evening when she’s busy and I’m left to feed and bathe our boy and get him to bed without her help, I complain endlessly. She does those things on her own all the time, simply so I can get the car ready to go racing.
And that’s not to mention all time racing takes me away from her. We rarely have a “date night” during racing season, and special occasions are planned around racing. We even had to change our wedding date and venue so that it didn’t interfere with race day.
If you were to put her on the spot, she would tell you I’m crazy for spending so much time and money on racing, but deep down, she knows how much the sport means to me. She knows that there’s a passion for racing that’s been burning in me since I was a kid, since long before she and I met. She knows that racing is a part of who I am, and she knows that I would be miserable without it.
She has known these things for a long time, but she still doesn’t completely understand it all. She supports me anyway. And for that I am thankful.
Thursday is Valentine’s Day. It’s also the eve of the annual Winternationals at our home track Southern Raceway. Me and my brother Joseph are both racing. We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then, and much like a few weeks back, I’ll spend most of this week getting ready to go racing.
But Thursday night I’ll be with my wife. Maybe we’ll go out to a nice dinner, or maybe we’ll stay home and have pizza and wine. Either way, I’ll do my best to show her how much she means to me and how thankful I am for her.
For putting up with a racer like me, she deserves that and so much more.