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Jan 2019

More Than A Race



I have many fond memories of growing up in the Brigade ministry. A personal highlight for me was the annual Shape-N-Race derby (now named StocKar Derby) at my church. My dad would work with me cutting, sanding and painting our masterpieces for the race. I learned a lot through the entire experience from preparation to race day. The process taught me valuable lessons that would carry me through to be the man I am today.

We’ve all seen the handy-man father reliving his childhood through his son’s derby car. The dad spends hours in the basement hunched over a tiny wooden block, while the son watches TV in the living room. Well, that wasn’t my experience. That might have been the experience of the kid’s who beat me on race day though. My dad certainly helped and guided me, but he let me take the lead. Most of the time this meant me walking away with a “participant” ribbon. In hindsight, losing was a lesson worth learning. The joy was in the process. The molten metal, power tools, and watching my dad work with his hands was the real reward. It took years to recognize this of course, but I’ll never forget the times I spent with my dad under the dim basement lights, planning and crafting the perfect car.

My cars were never particularly fast, in fact they were particularly slow. I specifically remember one boy who would show up with a true masterpiece every year. The paint job was immaculate, the design was aerodynamic, and it seemed to be motor driven on the track. His dad was an engineer and often put all other father-son teams to shame.  At times I asked myself, “why isn’t my dad an engineer” as my car would crawl down the track.  Now I wonder if that boy got to pick out his favorite hot wheels car at the hobby shop and test out his spray painting skills against newspaper. I still displayed my ribbons and cars proudly on my dresser and eagerly awaited my chance for victory the next year.

Boys can learn a lot from books and school, but nothing is quite like working with your dad, side by side. I learned the ins and outs and dos and don’ts of tools and materials. My dad taught me how to approach a problem, come up with a solution, and not lose my cool in the process.  It’s truly profound how a block of wood and some wheels can make such an impact, an impact I’ll never forget.

(PS. That’s me on the lower left.)