I spent some time racing in my distant past. I decided one day to go racing after I found a racecar in a shed. Yes, a shed. I had no idea what I was doing and sought advice first, then support. The advice came in the form of a man who raced the same kinda car I was gonna race and could help me with figuring out what to do. He was the advice I needed and became my mentor.
The support came from a friend with common interests. Cars and racing. Dicky was a friend of a friend and was not someone I knew real well at that time. He was a mechanic though and we both loved racing so I asked if he was interested in going to the track with me to help me manage this car I wanted to race. He was the best choice in racing I ever made. One of my best life choices as well.
Here is my point. For those who follow auto racing, the meaning of a crew chief is understood. For those who do not they are the lifeline. His role was simple. To handle the mechanical emergencies in qualifying and practice and to best solve them, sometimes as fast as possible. The work done has to be best as possible. The last call was mine, but the one doing the most critical work, was Dicky. Truth be told, he also had to manage me. He did that equally as well.
I have lived most of my life on my own. Alone. I have rarely had a person who I could count on that was there everyday. On the days I was at the track, for 9 years, I did. It was the closest I knew to family since I was a kid. He was the only person I knew that could fill that role.
The real role of a crew chief is this. The crew chief knows that all that happens on the car is under his control. Not all will be done by him but all that must be done will fall to him if not delegated. The emergencies will be largely managed by him. The most difficult solutions would also fall to him or he will play a big role. I often wish my life had a crew chief.
At the track, Dicky filled that role. Always.
The last thing I would ask Dicky before I fired up the engine to go on track was this. “Is the car ready?” His answer was always the same, “Drive fast, take chances.” And I did. I wish life came with crew chiefs ‘cause I was much better at racing than I am at living.