Like most who found themselves watching the Indianapolis 500 race last Sunday, I could not believe my eyes, as rookie driver J. R. Hildebrand drove his million dollar race car into the wall on the final turn of the race. "What a looser," I yelled at the screen. "The fix is in," screamed my more synical friend.
Uncharacteristially, I was watching the race only because my friend, who still believes Lyndon Johnson was behind the Kennedy assassination, revels in the world of auto racing. Whether it is Indy cars or the more popular NASCAR circuit, I find watching a bunch of cars drive around in circles while creating a collosal din, to be unbearably boring. I prefer the edge-of-your-chair excitement of golf.
However, last Sunday, this kid named J.R. rewarded us all with a reminder of a reality that I have preached for years. The best way to face the music, is to face the music. And that is exactly what this rookie driver did.
After seeing the coveted 500 win slip away within view of the checkered flag, J.R. stepped from the twisted metal that skidded him to second place and showed a poise and maturity way beyond his years. Hildebrand, is no dummy (he was accepted for admission at MIT). This bright young man, first sought out his crew and apologized to each and everyone of them.
He then submitted himself to the scrutiny of a critical press, answering every question, while being forced to watch the replay of his crash over and over. He had the presence of mind to thank fellow driver Paul Tracy for his sympathetic remarks after the race. He congratulated winner Dan Wheldon.
In other words, J.R. seemed to have this all in the proper perspective. Sure he was disappointed. But, he is only 23 years old. There will be plenty of races, and more chances at Indy. But if he never wins a race, he has proven himself a winner in a much more significant way. He has provided us all with an example of how we should behave when faced with a major setback or disappointment.
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