Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life. (Northrup Christiane)
Saturday afternoon, I wrapped up my second year as part of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at the prestigious Grand Prix of Long Beach. I first have to say congratulations to my friend Brett Davern, who won the race Saturday as well as the qualifying on Friday, and then a hearty “good race” to all of my friends who also participated. The fact that I have to thank them en masse shows how lucky I am. I either met or already knew a third of the field this year, way up from when I was a rookie reporter just showing up to support two of my friends last year.
I’m so, so blessed to be a part of this event, because I get to work with a lot of great people on something that is so much fun, and that means I create so many memories. Among them this time out: of course, spending time with Rutledge Wood, who’s one of my nearest and dearest buddies. I got to meet Cole Hauser, one of my favorite actors. Sam Witwer and I finally spent some face time together after two phone interviews. Nick Wechsler and I discovered we have mutual friends. Tricia Helfer and I got to hang out. Phil Keoghan approves of the title of my next book. I got my first IndyCar Series credentials. And oh yeah, there’s watching one of my friends win the damn race.
Why I love working the TPCR is really simple. Ever since I was young, all I wanted was to find someplace I belong (like, I think, many of us do). Working this race weekend, I was made to feel like part of the group. It was a pleasant surprise to have Sam spot me before the race today and welcome me into his conversation, or to have Nick spot me and wave. Or have Brett fistbump me on his way up to the dais for his post-victory press conference.
I owe Nick, actually, for something today that is going to stick with me for the rest of my life. I showed up at our Pro/Celebrity compound today to have Rutledge tell me our friend Michael Trucco was coming to visit; Nick had invited him, since he’s also one of Nick’s best friends. I’d been sulking for weeks that Michael wasn’t in this year’s race, as you know he’s one of my favorite people in the world and somebody I don’t see enough of. So to get to see him after literally a year apart, well, that was a dream come true.
And then Michael being Michael, and one of my most vocal supporters, proceeded to show up and once again bring me to tears (in a good way!) with how highly he thinks of me. He was there with JR Bourne, his Revenge co-star and a good friend of both his and Nick’s. Michael told me he wanted to hook the two of us up for an interview…and later explained that one by giving me some of the best feedback I’ve ever gotten on my work as a journalist. To know that he’d trust me with doing a piece on one of the people closest to him is flattering.
But, not to be stopped there, he then reminded me that my pilot script is one of the best he’s read, and informed me that not only did he give it to his wife to read it, but he wants JR to read it, too. I kid you not, my heart actually momentarily stopped then. To have such glowing feedback from anybody would floor me, but to hear it from someone that I consider like a brother and who I look up to immensely, there’s just no way to describe what that means.
Needless to say, I was still a little bit shocked as we parted company so I could head down to the post-race press conference, and do some after-conference interviews with Rutledge and Brett. As I was talking to Brett, I asked him if he had even let it sink in that he’ll be racing next year in the Pro category. I told him I guess that makes me Team Davern next year. He told me they’d get me a T-shirt and everything, and then added, “It wouldn’t be a Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach without you.” Between that and everything Michael had just said, it seriously took an act of willpower for me not to start crying.
I guess the point of all this is that once again I’m reminded of how lucky I am to keep the company I do, of people like Brett, Rutledge, Sam, Nick, Tricia, and Michael – all of whom I’d call friends now and all of whom I couldn’t have imagined meeting just a few years ago. It’s invigorating to know that when I work hard and try to be a good person, that goodness comes back to me. It gives me faith that I do belong, and that I’m doing some good out here, even if I don’t get paid and don’t work for some big-name outlet.
I’m already looking forward to next April when I can join Team Davern and root for Brett to repeat in the Pro division. I know he’s going to be fantastic, and getting to share this experience with him and everyone else has been an honor. It’s days like this that remind me why I do what I do, and how lucky I am to do it.
The 2014 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race will air on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, April 27 at 8:30 PM ET/4:30 PM PT. Check it out to see a few of my friends racing for a wonderful cause.