Work Hard to Play Hard

Behind the start at the Milan Dragway

Behind the start at the Milan Dragway

Over the weekend my daughter and I went to the Milan Dragway, a quarter mile dragstrip located outside my hometown. The smell of the fuel, rubber, exhaust, and whatever was burning on the neighboring property gripped the moment. High in the 60’s, partly cloudy; it was a perfect day to be outside and to have the peacefulness disrupted by precisely tuned mechanical muscle converting rumbles to screams.

It was inspiring. The car culture, drag racing on this day, proved to me that some things still exist. As much as the area (and world) has changed something special was going on at this older but still busy raceway. Beyond the layers of rubber that have been melted onto the track, the idea that we still work hard to play hard is still, and forever will be, a relevant saying.

Standing there behind the start line, cars were lined up by classes and dozens thick as they sit idle in a harmonious growl. Hard work was setting there awaiting to unleash, much like the end of the working week. As I explained to my daughter that this hobby amongst these drivers went beyond them. It is about a gathering after hours, taking in some laughs, taking out some frustrations, and smoothing out hard earned thoughts at the end of a day. In other words, we all need a release.

In numerous ways I saw the human condition working overtime. Some blew their start by redlining and causing their run to suck gas. Others performed well and perhaps had personal bests. Then there are the drivers running the same time over and over due to technique or not being in tune. How about that? Regardless, it’s back to work on Monday and hopefully that next time will ring in victory.

A burnout is not a figure of speech, it’s real. It is purposely meant to keep you still but your wheels (mind) spinning. In racing, the burnout is the precursor for the release. If you sat still burning through your tires, at some point those tires are going to fail. It was a great time and by the end of the weekend the comparisons and analogies were to realistic to ignore. Here we go, back at it on a Monday and as Elvis Costello sang, “Welcome to the Working Week.”