RC Racing Draws Folks From All Walks
by: Scott LaPeer
Thought this was kinda unique... On a whim of curiosity, I went to see about a local RC Car racing event taking place over the weekend. It was an official, "Pro Series" RC event, meaning there are poles, pits, and points, just like in NASCAR. Shoot, if you accumulate enough points, you win money depending on your placing. And I thought Hot Wheels was as serious as it got!
In all seriousness, I had a good time hanging out at the TrackSeekers RC Park Saturday. I'm not about to drop a couple grand on an RC "buggy" or "trucky" tomorrow, but I have a new respect for the guys who have a passion for it. They're serious about their results, but come as much for the camaraderie as the competition. They set up trailers and repair stands, have crew members, and even get a good sweat going during races that last upwards of 30 minutes. Other than a couple more hours on a track, the only difference between these guys, and auto racing is the term "racers" to "drivers".
Turns out, though, this weekend was the very first Pro Series RC event ever in Mississippi. You can laugh, but 79 racers from 6 different states gave it an awfully authentic feel. Coty Ingram, a 14-year old from Cleveland, Tennessee, races pro when he's not starting high school. Also, a couple drove all the way from San Antonio to compete! You can't ignore that kind of passion.
These cars were more elaborate than anything I could've imagined. The track was a mini-labyrinth of dips, ramps, moguls, and hair-pin turns. At one point, a car landed about a 12-foot jump and whizzed by my ankle so fast it honestly freaked me out! If that thing had clipped me, I'd probably be on crutches right now with 10 stitches in my lower leg.
To make a long story short, click here to check out my story from the event. At the very least, I hope you're entertained.
Often on this blog we’ve written about the awesome power of sports. About how athletics can unite people. Today’s entry is a little different. Today, sports will split a family in two… it will divide the closest relationship there is, that of father and son.
Let me explain.
I am the product of a
mixed-race couple, or as my dad politically correctly puts it, I’m a
mutt. My mother is Mexican, my father American. When it comes to most
sports I’m a carbon-copy of my old man.
He likes the Bills, Sabres, Lakers and Dodgers, as do I. But when it comes to soccer, which is
my favorite sport by a mile, we could not be more different.
My mom won some pretty big
battles while I was growing up.
For instance, she wanted me to learn Spanish first, then English… so I
did. She wanted to name me Sebastian, my dad wanted Wilbur… thank GOD she prevailed there. She also won the battle for my soccer
loyalty, encouraging me from an early age to root for “El Tri” as the Mexican
national team is known. Unfortunately, that loyalty left me no choice but to
pretty much hate the American team, that of my father’s native land, despite being
myself a product of this country’s youth soccer system.
While Mexico and the United States meet quite frequently on the pitch, the truth is only a handful of these match-ups really matter. Basically, if it’s not a World Cup qualifier or the World Cup itself… it’s not that big a deal. Sure, I was pretty pumped when Mexico stomped the US in last month’s Gold Cup final, but it was like winning the Meineke.com Bowl. A win in today's pivotal World Cup qualifying match between the two rivals, would feel like claiming a BCS bowl title. For American fans (my dad included), what happened in the summer of 2002 was like winning the national title. For my mother and I, 2002 was our own personal great depression.
On June 17, 2002, the US and Mexico met on soccer’s biggest stage, the knock-out round of the World Cup. My mom, dad, and I woke up early in the morning and watched together. It was one of the most awkward situations of my life. I found myself looking across the room at my father, my idol (we have a great relationship) and feeling nothing but venom. My mom and I watched in horror, as the US out-worked an overconfident Mexican team for a solid 2-0 win. My dad was humble in victory (probably because he knew he’d be sleeping on the couch for at least a week), but I know he was going nuts on the inside. In some ways, I feel bad for the guy… no matter what happens, he loses. Today his favorite team… his COUNTRY will lose an important, potentially historic game, or he’ll essentially lose a wife and son until our wounded egos heal enough to limp back into the relationship.
I may someday find myself on the other side of the 2-on-1 my father faces every time the US and Mexico play. Based on my propensity for dating white girls, I'll have to do some early brain-washing to make sure any future offspring choose the Red, White and Green over the Red, White, and Blue. This is the one instance where I can honestly say... I hope I don't end up like my dad.
by: Scott LaPeer
Every once in a great while, you come across something that makes you say, "Wow", in a way that is somehow more impressive than most other "wowing" feats.
Sure, Michael Phelps run of 8 gold medals last Summer was definitely "Wow". So was Vince Young's last-second TD run to beat USC in the Rose Bowl in 2005. Shoot, I think I said "Wow" last March when Scottie Reynolds beat Pitt at the buzzer. But there are different "Wow's", too. Ones, almost, more deserving of them.
Charlie Swearingen belongs in that category. Charlie's a young man with a dream. He wants to make the United States National Volleyball Team. But Charlie doesn't have legs. Born without fibulas, he had an amputation below the knees at 9 months. At 1 year, he was fitted for prosthetics and has been walking on his "stilts" for the last 31.
But Charlie's been given an opportunity to be a part of a talent pool with a chance of being selected to the 2012 U.S. National Paralympic Volleyball Team. On the hardwood is about one of the only times Swearingen is without his prosthetics. If you think standing volleyball is tough, take a look at SITTING volleyball.
Charlie's story is compelling enough in its own right, but then, throw in Jaime Burns. Jaime is head volleyball coach at Millsaps College. Once Charlie was given the opportunity to pursue this unlikely dream, he sought out someone to teach him the game from the ground up. Everyone he asked referred him to Jaime.
A couple weeks later, Burns was spending copious amounts of her Summer hours, morning and afternoon, training a near complete stranger. Yet in a way, her lifetime of volleyball experience hadn't trained her for anything like this. You can call it a 2-way avenue of teaching. Swearingen has an ever growing respect for his "coach", while she, likewise, holds a mutual admiration for pupil.
To further get to the point of the "Wow" factor I'm driving toward here, Sebastian did a similar story in March (click here for the archive-- scroll down to the 4th article).
The simple things we take for granted in athletics -- the ability to run, jump, change direction quickly -- disabled athletes must compete without. Yet, they still find a way to partake at a high level, with passion and intensity, and experience the pure joy of competitive sport.
Charlie Swearingen and others like him are inspiring in many ways. When you watch a video like this, you realize you've got it good, just to be on 2 legs all the time. Give these a look or 2, and give us your thoughts. Hope you enjoy the story...