My wife, Ann, has an affection for clocks, and there hasn't been a Christmas in 31 years of married life that I haven't given her a clock or a watch of some sort. This year was no different. She did, in fact, get two different kinds of clocks, each with a story behind it as always seems to be the case with my shopping efficiency. But the title of this Legendtorial goes back to the Grandfather clock I gave her for Christmas about 1984 or 1985. On the face of the clock, in beautiful script, is written "Tempus Fugit". Not being a scholar of foreign language I was not sure what the inscription meant, but even with the sound of it I assumed it was not something with a hidden meaning. I got out a dictionary and couldn't find that term (this was before the days of Google) but I eventually find out that Tempus Fugit literally means, "Time Flies".
I guess this time of year, more than any other, reminds us that time truly does fly by. Christmas is the time for remembering special holidays of the past, as I'm sure we all do. Certainly, our thoughts go back to Christmases of our youth, or early Christmases in our adult lives. Reminds me of the first couple of Christmases Ann and I shared when we had very little money but still had quite a bit of Christmas joy, sharing what we did have with the kids. Then there was the year my boss gave me this unbelievable bonus just a couple of weeks before Christmas and Ann and I went overboard with gifts to the kids. That was a nice Christmas and this past Christmas the kids shared that they remember that Christmas very well, not so much for what they got, but the fact that we shared a very special Christmas.
Just last week, we flipped the calendar over from 2014 to 2015. Another year gone by. Another time in which to reflect on our past accomplishments and failures and all other things that have filled this adventure called life. I guess, at least for me, no other time like the New Year exemplifies Tempus Fugit. While I reflected on the past 68 New Year Eves of my life, it hit me like a goat in a butting contest that I simply cannot justify to myself how time has escaped me.
It seriously seems as though it was only a very few years ago that I recall the decade of the 50s becoming the decade of the 60s. Looking back over all those years it seems a blur of activity that took me from 1959 to present day 2015. I think nothing makes it more impactful than having spent over a week with all six grandkids over Christmas, remembering when each one was born and now they range from 18 to 11. Seriously, where did that time go? Jeff, Bopper, just you wait and see if I'm not right as your grandkids grow. Look at our own Cody! A 11-year-old kid who did a great job, even at that age, is now a seasoned veteran in broadcasting and is a really good one. What a future he will have. But, Cody, believe me, the time will pass before you even know where it went. Treasure each memory you make so you can recall those times when you get to be my age. Life is an adventure to be enjoyed and when you're a race fan, or involved in racing in some way, it seems it is enjoyed at a much quicker pace than others seem to find.
Last year, in the New Year's Legendtorial, I talked about not making resolutions. I'm sticking by that again this year, although I do need to lose some weight and change some of my eating habits, but those things don't require a list written and hung on the "fridge" which will be ignored within the first month. My resolutions, if there are to be, are made each morning when I wake up. In that few minutes between opening my eyes and getting out of bed, I try to resolve each day that I will be kind to others, that I will be honest, and that I will always do what I can to make others feel the importance they truly are, for each individual I encounter is an important part of my education and an important part of my life. I learn from the good, and the bad. From the kind, and the not so kind. I want to be the kind of man people want to be around and the kind of man who makes everyone feel comfortable. Of course, it doesn't work with everyone. There are plenty of people around who thrive on the negative and the egotistical braggadocio always claiming to be right, no matter the proof to the contrary.
We are just over a month away from the Daytona 500. A new season! Once more the teams will arrive at Daytona, ARCA, Xfinity, Camping World and Sprint Cup (for the last time) and begin a season that will last into mid-November. In years past, the Daytona 500 was the true beginning of MY New Year. When they started the season at Riverside, that was ok, but the only way to hear that was listening through the static of an AM radio which got even worse when the sun went down. Because the race was in California, it was always dark in South Carolina before the end of the race. See, that seems to me like a few weeks ago but it was years ago. Seriously, I remember the 1959 Daytona 500 better than I remember last year's other than Junior winning last year. I guess either my heart and mind are in the past, or time has gone by so quickly my heart and mind at still trying to catch up with the calendar and the clock.
I sit here in The Lair, on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, still in 2014 and wonder what the New Year will bring. I'm 68 years old now and I can't help but wonder how many more Christmases and New Years I have before me. I guess, in the back of my mind at least, I wonder how many more Daytona 500s I have before me. Seriously though, I guess I'm more inclined to look back on those days of the past and remember the great races I've seen in person, the wonderful people I've met along the way, and the great adventures I've had in life overall, but especially in racing.
I would like each of you to think of this for a few minutes. The last time you were at a race and the cars were on the pace lap, how did you feel? How did you feel when the green flag waved? How did you feel when the entire field came by upon the completion of lap one jockeying for position? Let me share this memory with you. The last raced I attended was with my three grandsons at Charlotte for the 2011 Coke 600, or as I prefer to call it, the World 600. I was absolutely shaking with excitement when the pace laps went by. When the green flag dropped and I heard those engines come to full song, I absolutely jumped up and down, much to the delight of my three grandsons. When the field came by next time (we were sitting in the turn four grandstands) and the breeze from the cars blew small particles of asphalt into our faces, I think even the boys were excited to the point of total fascination of what they were seeing.
When they drop the green flag on this year's Daytona 500, I will be in front of the television and I will still feel that spine tingling excitement of the sport as if I were in the grandstands at Daytona. That's the way racing is for me. The first Daytona 500 I missed after all those years of being there, I actually got tears in my eyes as CBS was signing off from the broadcast. That was sometime in the 90s although I can't remember the exact date.
So, to everyone listening tonight, or who may read this later on the Home Page, I wish for you a very happy and Blessed New Year in 2015. May all your hopes and dreams be fulfilled. May your happiness know no limits. Just remember when the New Year rolls around again, you will be another year older. Fill this year with adventure, family, and happiness.
One final note. Do NOT forget the official RacersReunion trip to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte this coming Saturday, January 10th. We will all meet in the main lobby just inside the main entrance at 10:30 a.m. We will tour the hall and then enjoy lunch together in the Wild Wings located just inside the Hall of Fame. Many of us have done this trip before and it is always a wonderful experience to see all the Hall of Fame has to offer, but even more, to share time together with such good people as those who join us for these trips. If you remember our interview with Rex White a couple of weeks ago, he indicated he will join us. I intend to call him tomorrow to remind him of that. Also, I talked with Buz McKim at the Stocks for Tots event and he told me that he plans on being with us that day. Buz is the NASCAR Historian for the Hall of Fame and gave us the Grand Tour last trip up and his input was a wonderful addition to a special day. I do hope as many of you who can will join us for that trip. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Happy New Year, God bless, and remember to "Honor the past, embrace the present, and dream for the future"!