Thursday, March 26, 2015

My dream of becoming a professional race car driver

When it comes to living with Muscular Dystrophy a genetic muscle disorder that causes my muscle to weaken, the reality is that it has kept me from being able to pursue one of my biggest dreams. That dream was to become a professional race car driver. You see when I was a child and even in my teens I grew up around Motorsports. From a very young age I always dreamed about becoming a race car driver. I still remember as a child watching the Daytona 500 with my dad when they first started broadcasting the races on TV in the early 80's. This was long before my diagnosis of Becker's Muscular Dystrophy. As I grew older and after my diagnosis it became apparent to me that racing is actually a very physically demanding sport to participate in. I learned this early after taking my brothers racing go kart (pictured above) for a test drive. At the time my dad put together a race team for my brother and I joined them on many occasions travelling to race tracks across the province of Ontario. Eventually the racing stopped but my love for Motorsports remained very strong. Growing up one of my favorite racing series was the Trans Am Series and the Cart Series when they ran strictly road course and street circuit races.

A look at my very first Go Kart Race

In my teens I remember one time as a teenager when I joined my churches youth group on a trip to an amusement park in New York known as Darien Lake. While walking through the park to my surprise mixed in with the roller coasters was a small go kart racing track. Thankfully my friends agreed that we needed to take advantage of this opportunity and have a little race. After waiting in line for a short period of time the gate opened, at that point everyone rushed to the go karts at the front of the pack. Unable to run due to the Muscular Dystrophy this resulted in me ending up with the very last go kart on the starting grid. This meant I was starting dead last in 10th place - so it was time to focus. Once the race started I quickly made my way through traffic. At one point I noticed just ahead of me that my friend was being held up by two other drivers. Next thing I know I am on his bumper. All of a sudden a gap opened up and like Ayrton Senna I went for it and was actually able to pass my friend and the other two drivers on the same lap. At that point I was catching the top three but the next thing I knew our time on track was up. If only we had just a few more laps I might have been up there challenging for the lead. During the race I was so focused on driving that I didn't realize how hard I was pushing the gas pedal. When it came time to get out of the go kart I stood up and my right leg and foot were so weak for a short time I could barely stand or walk. Although I enjoyed myself on the track it quickly reminded that my dream of becoming a race driver would never become a reality. Thankfully like most things in my life I was able to accept it and move on. Now my love for racing and wanting to be a professional race driver is fulfilled by playing racing video games. But still to this day I feel like being a race car driver is something I was born to do. Unfortunately Muscular Dystrophy is the one thing that kept me from being able to pursue this dream, as my arms would quickly tire from all the shifting and foot work involved with auto racing. To those who may believe that racing isn't a physically demanding sport there are millions of race fans like me that would have to disagree. 

Mosport International Raceway & the beginning of Laps 4 MD

As I child I feel very fortunate to have grown up around Motosports. I really enjoyed being able to attend races with my dad at a local race track many still refer to as Mosport. Being able to get up and close with racing was simply an amazing experience. I guess it won't surprise you when I tell you that it always bothered me that I couldn't pursue my dream of becoming a race driver. So over the years I would do my best to try and find ways that I could be involved in racing, even if it was in a small way. After years of being a Jeff Gordon fan I started to think wouldn't it be amazing if he could donate $1 from every lap he leads to help support those living with Muscular Dystrophy. This was when I came up with the idea for Laps for Muscular Dystrophy. Now in 2015 we have 7 racers donating $1 from every lap they lead supporting Muscular Dystrophy Canada. So now I can accept the fact that my dream of becoming a race car driver never came true. As it truly feels great to be working with some of Canada's top up and coming race drivers. As you can see even though I was unable to pursue my dream of becoming a race car driver I found a new and very unique way to be involved in Motorsports. Sure my life without Muscular Dystrophy would have been very different, but then I would have never come up with the idea of Laps for MD. I now believe that sometimes the challenges we face in life can lead to amazing opportunities. It caused me to become very creative. I guess sometimes we have to be creative when it comes to finding new ways of being involved in the things we love. In my situation even though I couldn't pursue my dream, I was able to come up with a new way to be involved in Motorsports - just in a different way.

Please visit Laps 4 MD online by clicking on the image below!

1 comment:

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