Morning Coffee: Friday – December 6
The SuperNationals’ Silver Lining
I know that I’m a ‘glass half-full’ kind of guy when I can actually look back at last month’s SKUSA SuperNationals and key on the warmth of the late morning sun and the quality of the racing that I enjoyed on SuperSunday. The three straight days of cold, wind and rain – a crappy trifecta that dominated consecutive 16-hour workdays from Thursday to Saturday – had somehow faded into memory by the time we wrapped up the trophy presentations on Sunday. I’m actually really happy about that, because I’ve got nothing but great memories from the last 16 SuperNationals, and I would have hated to have had one that would have been completely soured by rain.
So, yes, the weather was horrible. It was cold, biting, and both physically and mentally draining. But you know what? It was also a tremendous challenge, wasn’t it? And I mean it was a challenge for everyone – racers, mechanics, workers, staff and us in the media – long, cold days that required you to dig deep for the motivation to continue. But this is the key to the positive aspect of the event. We were at the biggest race of the year, in conditions that challenge a driver and team to rise up and excel. I thought it was remarkable. Because for every driver who struggled with the weather, and the track conditions, and fell from their usual position in the lead group, other competitors found the will to soldier on. These diehards were able to show their talent when the role of extreme horsepower was eliminated and when the combination of personal grit and driving ability were paired with more importance. Even in the cold and wind, I found a great deal of excitement and intrigue in how the peloton was jumbled during qualifying and the heat races. Some new names definitely came to the forefront.
And that’s really what a major event like the SuperNationals is supposed to be. It’s always an incredible challenge. And while this challenge always comes in the form of unparalleled competition, every so often, the racing gods through a wrench in the mix like they did this year. I’m a big fan of racing in the rain, as I strongly believe that it puts true talent on display. So if you could find the silver lining in this year’s SuperNationals, and you have to be a true fan of the sport to have embraced this fact, it was that the actual racing this year was tremendous. The hardcore battles in the rain were incredible to watch. The track offered so many different driving lines, from running the traditional outside line that provided maximum forward bite at corner exit, to hooking your inside wheels on the curbing to ‘slot car’ your way around an apex. As an announcer, it was hard to keep up with the action.
In the end, the racers who persevered through the rain and cold have earned my ultimate respect. They rose up when challenged and responded to the ‘call to action’. In my books, while not the ideal Las Vegas conditions, this year’s SuperNationals were one of the best in terms of challenging the sport’s finest to ‘earn’ their wins. The week was long and difficult, but SKUSA still had to dole out hardware. The drivers who were on the stage to receive their trophies on Sunday night definitely deserved their rewards.