If you meet the Buddha on the road, race him

Valerie Roedenbeck Maloof, who raises children and races cars, on the spiritual aspect of track work:

For those of us who have spent a lifetime attempting to espouse the teachings of Buddhism and Yoga, which encourage practitioners to stay in the present moment and not waste time on the past or the future, a race car at speed is the perfect place to live this teaching. You simply cannot be anywhere but right there, driving. The result is nothing short of absolute calm and joy, all while traveling at high speeds. Then, you exit the car and life returns — your shoulders are sore from the HANS pushing down on them, your back and legs are tired from shifting, your arms are tired from turning the wheel without the help of power steering, and your hair smells like exhaust. But the joy stays with you. I believe we drive so we can experience that joy. It is no accident motorsport is a passion. It is no wonder we forget the danger as we pursue that perfect spiritual experience in the car. It is nothing short of prayer.

Even those of us who never get near a track have gotten this sensation, or something very like it. There are, of course, those who have declared their unalterable opposition to doing interesting things with motor vehicles; but this, too, is a religious experience, a dictum from a less-than-almighty god created by the ego of a timid man, whose first Commandment ends with the phrase “… because something might happen.” The condition in which nothing happens, incidentally, is called “death.”

1 comment

  1. Jeffro »

    4 November 2013 · 10:56 pm

    Sort of off topic, but 2013 brought one of the best racing movies ever to the screen – Ron Howard’s Rush. Wonderful film about the 1976 Formula One season and the rivalry between James Hunt and Nikki Lauda. That was the season Lauda crashed (and severely burned) n Germany, and came back to the track way too soon.

    Another recommendation is the documentary 1. It’s really about safety and the lack thereof in racing, and how during the sixties and seventies when performance way outstripped any sort of safety and drivers were dying at a very high rate. They follow the progress of the measures taken to improve things for the drivers into today.

    I’m really not a F1 fan, but both these films were very gratifying for a gearhead.

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