Monday, June 29, 2020

Musings From the Weekend: Trying to Feel Happy

Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin split the NASCAR Cup doubleheader from Pocono, but it would not be a NASCAR weekend in 2020 without a weather delay and we had a few. First, the Truck race was rained out from Saturday to Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. Second, the Cup race was delayed twice and did not end until the final rays of sunlight remained in the sky. Australia saw motorsports action return with Supercars at Sydney Motorsports Park behind closed doors. Elsewhere, Formula One is almost back, as will be the Formula Two and Formula Three divisions. IMSA continues to re-arrange its calendar. Here is a rundown of what got me thinking.

Trying to Feel Happy
The last month has been rough and I can't say it has gotten any better.

It is hard to be happy during this time. The pandemic has been a tough period for many. Unemployed in the United States is the worst it has been since the Great Depression. Parts of the country are seeing record-breaking spikes in cases on a daily basis, and in turn, the country is right back where it started in early April.

Meanwhile, protests have been taking place in response to the murder of George Floyd and it has spurred protests globally against racial inequality. We are seeing tremendous displays and calls for unity, and it feels like a watershed moment, it feels like great change is happening, but it comes with an unfortunate backlash of racism and ignorance.

It is heart-breaking seeing how difficult it is for some people to treat fellow human beings with respect. It is devastating when kindness and understanding and listening is too difficult of a task for a lot of people.

And all that is wanted is love. The black community around the world wants to be treated like everyone else. They want to live their lives and not be seen as an outsider or a threat on a constant basis. They want to be treated like another person.

For the last month, NBC Sports Premier League studio analyst Robbie Earle has been the voice that has broken through the most to me. As a soccer fan, Earle has been a weekly guest in my home for years. Before getting into television, he was a top player in England, playing for Wimbledon and he scored in the 1998 FIFA World Cup for Jamaica. He is an intelligent and thoughtful man. His analyst is incredibly insightful. Like everyone on NBC's Premier League coverage, he is one of the best in the business.

Listening to Earle's stories facing causal racism and hearing the pain in his voice hurts. I hear a man who just wants to be loved. He wants to walk down the street and not have others make him aware he is viewed different. He wants to be seen for more than his skin color. He wants to go to a restaurant or store and not have eyes on him at all times.

That basic freedom is what black people want. That basic freedom is what white people have.

That is white privilege. White privilege is going out and not having a security guard trail you in a store just because of your skin color while posing no other sign of being a threat for theft.

Every aspect of the world is confronting racial inequality, bias and discrimination in the last month. From soccer to television to motorsports and every part of life in-between.

For the last month, NASCAR has been making changes and it has been led from within. Bubba Wallace is using his voice and drivers are listening. Officials are listening. Like the many other aspects of life, there has been push back, but change is coming in NASCAR. The resistance to change will not go away easily but change will not stop.

Wallace has NASCAR's support, and that is something I am not sure a previous NASCAR regime would have been as quick to give. Fellow drivers rallied around Wallace, showing unity after a noose was found in the Richard Petty Motorsports garage. Fortunately, after FBI investigation it was determined it was not a hate crime, but on the heels of NASCAR banning the confederate flag at its tracks after Wallace publicly stated he would like the flag to be barred from events, with protesters outside the facility and a plane flying with the flag overhead, NASCAR protected Wallace when it otherwise may have ignored it.

It turned out to be a misunderstanding and one of the craziest coincidences where the one garage pull rope in the Cup garage that was tied into a hangman's knot at Talladega from last October ended up being in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace's team in June 2020.

Watching everything going on in the world and Bohemian Rhapsody plays in my head.

"I don't want to die. I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all."

The world is dizzying. The bell rings to end the round and before you reach your corner it rings again, and you are back facing a barrage of punches. Dying can't be that bad, right? It seems like the only way out. Improvements and changes are not expected overnight but there is this relentless opposition to social change that will drag this on longer than it should and in some cases prevent changes a vast majority of people support from ever happening. The opposition isn't going to miss me. Let's just give them the world. They will have no one to be mad at but themselves.

It is hard to be happy. How can I justify it when I see everything going on around me?

This should be an exciting time. After three months of lockdown, Formula One is coming back! MotoGP will be back soon! The IndyCar season gets rolling with five races in 15 days! IMSA will be back with a return of the Paul Revere 250 on July 4! Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters will be back with a wacky schedule and it is not the only wacky schedule out there.

DTM plans to return to Spa-Francorchamps! Formula One is running two races at Red Bull Ring and Silverstone and it is talking about returning to Imola. Mugello could host a race, though I do not think that race will be great, I am all for it. Hockenheim and Portimão are possible destinations for Formula One races later this year. MotoGP will have doubleheaders at Jerez, Red Bull Ring, Misano and Aragón.

The next three months are going to be filled with motorsports. An Indianapolis 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans are still ahead of us. We are going to see calendars and races we will never see again. Though a difficult time, this should spark some joy and be remembered as a bright spot. It is too dark to get through. The bright spots are clouded out until we the people start achieving societal improvements.

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin but did you know...

Chase Briscoe won the Grand National Series race from Pocono, his fourth victory of the season. Brandon Jones won the Truck race, his first career Truck victory.

Scott McLaughlin won the bookend Supercars races from Sydney Motorsports Park with Nick Percat winning the second race of the weekend.

Coming Up This Weekend
IndyCar has the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
NASCAR joins IndyCar for its Brickyard 400, with the Grand National Series running the road course.
IMSA will run at Daytona on July 4th weekend for the first since 2010.
Formula One starts in Austria and Formula Two and Formula Three will be there as well.