Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Seasons of Life

As I get older, I have come to understand the concept of the seasons of life. Some interests or passions from earlier years seem to fade and new interests take their  place. As I think of what consumed my thoughts and time 25 years ago, I am amazed that I am no longer even casually interested in those things. Those chapters of my life are closed and I move on to new motivations.

Through the 1980s, I was consumed with auto racing. My  brother began drag racing and i enjoyed helping him with the car. I followed  NASCAR with a passion. I went to truck and tractor pulls and monster truck competitions. I began working as a volunteer crew member on a dirt track stock car team. That led me to building, owning, and driving my own dirt track car. I then spent 10 years racing stock cars and dreaming of breaking into NASCAR as a driver.

At one point when I had put racing on hold to start up my own computer consulting business, my first crew chief moved to North Carolina and landed a job with a small NASCAR Winston Cup team. Through hard work and increasing skills, he worked his way up the career ladder. Today he has a good paying job with a major NASCAR team building race cars.

One night in 2001, around 1am driving 4 hours home from a race, I began to evaluate how much money, time, and effort I had poured into racing and what I had gotten out of it. That night in the quiet darkness of I-75,  I decided I was done. When I arrived home, I hung my driving suit in the closet, sold my HANS device, helmet, and driving shoes on EBAY and never looked back. Purchasing a motorcycle and beginning to ride a good bit seemed to adequately replace the enjoyment I had when driving a race car without the endless hours each week to maintain a race car.

About 9 months after retiring from racing, I got an offer to write for a racing news website - I thought it would be a good way to keep myself connected to the sport and improve my writing skills. So I began submitting a weekly article and began to interact with readers who either strongly agreed with my opinions on racing or strongly disagreed. The emails after publication each week were quite interesting at times.

In 2007, I left Speedway to write for, where I have been writing ever since. Over the years, I have enjoyed attending NASCAR races with race team guest credentials providing me access to the garage and pit road and providing good background for my weekly articles. Over the last two years, I enjoyed media credentials which provided me access to the garage, pit road, media center, and the press box. So when I was working race weekends, I had access to all of the driver press availability sessions, etc.

Needless to say, I have enjoyed the last 10 years as a racing journalist, but I could feel it coming to an end. After all of the years of wanting to either be at the track for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, or sitting in front of the TV for the live broadcasts of those three events each weekend, I suddenly felt the interest draining. Suddenly, it became a task to sit down Sunday night and write a 500 word article on the happenings of the week in racing. I finally realized, I was really done with racing, not only as a driver or crew member, but even as a writer.

So, I submitted my final article this weekend. Something about it seemed like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. New interests are calling. Another chapter has closed and another one is opening.

In July, I will begin volunteering as a small group leader with Transit, the middle school program at Browns Bridge Community Church. I am looking forward to mentoring a group of 6th grade boys and hope I can be a positive influence in their lives. This fall, Allison and I will begin serving as small group leaders for a couples small group as well. And, as I have mentioned previously on this blog, we are headed to Venezuela this Summer on a short term mission trip.

Change once was something I met with fear and trepidation. Now, I am embracing it.


redlegsrides said...

You are right Sir, once it becomes a chore, then its time to move on. I believe those youngsters will benefit from your experience....if only they will listen. : )


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Kathleen Jennette said...

I have put a deadline for next year to cut out certain things if they don't take off. Time to start devoting more time to change. I like what you have done, and will do with not only your life, but for others.

Canajun said...

I'm all for change; it's both exciting and scary but it always opens up new challenges, opportunities, and friendships. And it's never as bad as the anticipation. Best of luck with your new endevours.

Allen Madding said...

I hope they will. Lord knows I probably didn't listen too much at that age. Thanks for your encouragement.

KT Did,
I'm with you on the deadline idea. Thanks for your kind words.

I think you are right. The opportunities on the horizon have lots of promise. Thanks!

WooleyBugger said...

Here's wishing you all the best. I've always wanted a full time writing gig covering Motorcycle related travels and such. Never happened to land the big one, just small ones here and there.

RichardM said...

You have a very interesting history with racing encompassing many aspects of the sport. And you got me thinking of what I was passionate about in the past and what happened now. Change is healthy.

I'm sure you will be able to reach and inspire the 6th grade boys as well as the young couples and wish you both well on your mission project.


Bill (cycleguy) said...

What a great and informative article Allen. I liked the whole idea of "this is a season." Made me think back to certain times of my life when I was doing this or that and now it holds no interest whatsoever. I can remember when baseball and then basketball held sway. I could really care less now. So many others. I like where I am right now and look forward to seeing what God has in the future. Thanks again for a great article. (Sorry but i was never into racing).

Allen Madding said...

Wooley -
I sat out on the sports writing gig with the hopes of landing a paying gig. About four years into it, all of the newspapers started laying off sports writers, then they started going bankrupt. Oh well, it was fun.

Richard -
It's quite interesting when I think about all of my passions of years gone by. Thanks for the kind words.

Bill -
I am looking forward to whatever God has in mind. Pretty Awesome. Thanks for reading and for writing!


FLHX_Dave said...

Change is good. Aspirations change...but if you tell me you are going to stop riding? I don't want to think about it.

Here's a toast to's a good's what keeps us moving foreward.

Allen Madding said...


Stop riding? Only to get gas or eat :)

Thanks for writing. *toast*


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Madding:

Congratulations on this decision to focus more of your time on mentoring youth. It's important to pass on the things you have learned to the next generation. I rtegard it as planting seeds of opportunity. Who knows? Something you may say or do could easily change the course of action for a kid, letting him or her know that dreams are within grasp.

You make me feel like a slacker in this regard, but circumstances are forcing me to reinvent myself at age 57, so I'll have something at age 65, should I get there.

Fondest regards,
Jack / Reep
Twisted Roads

irondad said...

Interestingly, I find myself in a similar spot with teaching motorcycle safety. For longer than I care to remember I've spent 30 plus weekends a year doing something I felt makes a difference.

I keep thinking about giving it up. It's not a case of letting something go because it's not meaningful and productive. There are simply other things I would like to do with my weekends. So does that make me less altruistic because I want to give up something that helps so many people?

In your case you're moving on to mentoring youth. In my case I want to spend more time with the wife and pursue photography more. More selfish than altruistic, if you see my point.

All I know is that I'm getting tired.

Was it really that easy for you to walk away from racing and writing? I'm not sure it will be for me.

Allen Madding said...

I can't say it was easy. I gave this consideration for almost an entire year before settling on it as the correct course of action. I began to feel squeezed for time and spending time with my wife was one of my concerns. With the additional commitments I have made this year and the ones I am about to embark on, it became self-evident.

With two weeks over my shoulder, it is really clear it was the right choice.

All I can suggest, is if you are not really certain, give it a little time and it will become more clear.