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Friday, December 17, 2004 - 08:19:44 AM EDT

Guy Caputo - Dragbike.com

Guy Caputo

So you think you're a great racer?
Written by: Guy Caputo

Aspirations for greatness are always admirable but seldom realized. So what does it take to be a great player in this game of racing? Lets see...Hmmmmmm; I got it, lots of sweat. No, that can't be it, I sweat up a storm and I'm not great at this sport, hell I'm not even all that good if the truth be told. Maybe it's stick-to-it-tiveness, nah, that can't be it. I've been at this quite awhile and I'm still not getting any greater than I was when I first started. Maybe it's money. Yea that's it, money $$$. I would like to believe that money is the key, but it really isn't. I invest a ton of bucks into my bike and I'm a little faster and my bike is really great looking but I'm not getting any greater, so what is it? How can I be great in this sport if I don't know what it takes to be great? There are some really great players in this arena we call Motorcycle Drag Racing and the first 2 that come to mind are the late GREAT racers Elmer Trett and Dave Schultz. These 2 people were truly great in every sense of the word. They sweated, they had stick-to-it-tiveness and they invested a ton of money and yet, that wasn't what made them great. Dying for this sport just made them "late great" racers and these men were great before they passed, so what was it? An old racer once told me that even though he had been racing motorcycles since the 50's in different venues, he was still never any good at it. After talking to him for about half an hour, I could tell he was a great racer. He wasn't a very good mechanic even though he worked at it very rigorously and he had all kinds of bikes in his varied career, so what was it? He had money too, but that didn't make him great and since he had been at it since the 50's I would say he had stick-to-it-tiveness. He had a racing charm and charisma oozing from every pore in his body. Rickey Gadson is a great racer and if you have ever met Rickey in the flesh, you would also say he has charm and charisma. Angelle Saver has charm and charisma, so does every great racer I have ever met. Does that make them great? I'm not sure that the words charm and charisma are even the right words of description for greatness, but the great ones are always recognized in a crowd wherever they go. They have this aura about them emanating from their very being and what is this aura, charm, charisma I'm talking about? Love, sincerity, warmth, friendliness, and all those other fuzzy feelings you get when in their presence? Is that it? You have to be a good person to be great? Hell if that's all, I'm a good person, I'm warm, friendly, and sincere and all those other things I just mentioned, so why am I not great? I help other racers, I help our industry, I go to church every Sunday and sing in the choir (except on race days and then its chapel time). So why am I not a great racer? I have been trying to be a great racer, a great person and working damn hard at it, spending money, sticking to it and yet I feel that I have been trying to be something that I'm not.

It's not who you think you are, but what others think you are. Its not how many toys you have, how big your team is, how many times you have won, how much you spend. You're not measured by how great you try to be or how good you try to be or any other esoteric stuff. I believe you are measured by how many peoples lives you touch in your own lifetime. I don't men touched in the physical sense, but in the emotional sense. Every person who I have already mentioned has touched me in some way and has somehow shaped me in some way no matter how small.

Elmer was to me one of the greatest touchers of lives I have ever met. You didn't even have to know him to be touched by his generosity of knowledge of the business, of racing and of humanity. I once stood by Elmer's trailer while he and his team worked feverishly on his Top Fueler one Saturday afternoon, when a young man and his girlfriend approached him to watch and gawk. It was obvious to me this guy new nothing about bikes, let alone a top fueler when this guy, trying to impress his date, spurts out to Elmer, "Hey, you otta take some air outta that back tire some, looks like you were slippin real bad." I about choked on my own saliva and was ready to bust out laughing when I thought to myself, who was this person trying to tell my idol how to run his race program. Elmer just turned to this person and smiled and said, "you may be right, thanks for spotting that, I'll check it before I go out" and then turned back to his work. He could have embarrassed this person totally or said something smart back or just ignore the guy altogether, but not Elmer. Now how magnanimous was that? I would have said something smart back and I guess that is why Elmer Trett was a great man.

It's not perspiration or sweat that makes one great, or anything else like that. I think it's the inspiration one gets from those around you who inspires you to keep doing, to keep going, and to keep trying. Angelle inspires many female racers and wanna be racers by her deeds and her accomplishments and to me that's what makes her great. I keep trying to be a great racer because those who inspire me keep the fire alive in me. I know so many people, now that I think about it, which have inspired me in so many ways that I can't count them any more. Scott Barger of S&K Racing who was life flighted after a near miss with death on his race bike many years ago, inspires me to be honest with myself and never give up, he is a great friend. Dave, Elmer, Rickey, Angelle, Scott, and so many others that have touched me in my life are why I keep trying to be a great racer.

Now that I have come to know my own truth as to what a great racer is, I also want to be like them. To touch others in some small way I guess. Humility is one of the cornerstones of all of these great people I have mentioned. They all have the willingness to share and to help, not tear down or destroy. The aura I saw in all of these people for me was their love for others and their willingness to want to help. We sometimes are too wrapped up in our own worlds and we forget what is truly important in life. Other people. Greatness comes in all shapes, sizes and forms and if we are lucky enough to recognize someone who is truly great, and I'm sure you know someone, just think about them for a moment. Why are they great to you? Aren't they inspirational to you in some way? Have they touched your life in some way no matter how small? If so, they are great people. I always thought I wanted to be a great racer, now I realize maybe I should just start off with being a good husband, son and friend to those I'm around every day. Maybe if I get lucky enough to be at the pearly gates when I pass, I can look back and see those whom I have touched, and I pray it was in a great way.

Until next time, Safe racing to all.

Guy Caputo can be reached at Guy@Dragbike.com



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