Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Daytona As A Place Of Healing

In January, I usually drive over to the Rolex 24 Sports Car race at Daytona. While it is fun to see all the interesting machines and to watch the NASCAR drivers try to fit-in with guys named Derek and Hans, there is also something very interesting going-on.

The activity in the pits, the practice sessions and the Fan Zone vendors help bring something back to life that for many of us has become a vital part of our existence. It's a return to normalcy that evokes a strong emotion.

There is a sense of healing at Daytona now. I felt it when I saw the fans posing with Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s statue outside the speedway. I felt it when the fans in their NASCAR clothing stopped sports car drivers and asked for their name. I felt it when I looked in the infield and saw Ferrari and Porsche flags flying alongside the red #8 and the black #3.

For racing fans, the Rolex 24 has once again become a melting pot of top drivers from all over the world, from different racing series, and from very different backgrounds. One recent addition over the last five years or so has been the influx of high-profile NASCAR drivers. For this one event, that has made a huge difference.

My last trip to Daytona for the Rolex 24 helped me to get the courage and conviction that I needed to begin this blog. Returning to Daytona for the NASCAR events just fortified my belief that much of what was right with the world can be seen at a big racetrack. It seems like everybody of every shape and kind is there, and having as much fun discovering each other as getting ready to watch the race.

It never fails on a race weekend that the memories of some of the people you meet stick with you. America is full of characters, full of stories, and full of people who have overcome big things in their lives just to be at the racetrack.

In a couple of weeks, the Infield Media Center at Daytona will brush off its dust and open once again to the racing press. The reporters who assemble for the Rolex 24 are just as varied as the fans in the stands. Some are there to follow a driver or team, others were sent by their editors because of the curiosity factor.

The racing media veterans are always there, hunched over a laptop and using a cell phone while simultaneously listening to a driver interview and trying to see what is for lunch. This year, a friend of The Daly Planet will be there only by the grace of God and his own personal courage.

When I started emailing with Bob Margolis from Yahoo! Sports, he was very kind to take the time to respond to an unknown blogger from Florida. Since that first time, I took him up on his offer of advice during the season on a wide variety of topics.

While he told me some very wise things, he left something out. The entire time, while emailing with me about NASCAR topics, he was in the middle of a life-or-death battle with Cancer.

In his understated style, he kept things focused on racing, despite the real issue at hand. Once I was made aware of his situation, I asked him how things were going. At that time, they were not going well. His disease had pulled him off the road, removed him from his job, changed his life forever, and now was trying to end it.

Many of us held our breaths while Bob battled on through a wide variety of challenges on both a personal and medical level. As regular readers of Yahoo! Sports know, Bob never lost his desire for racing or his ability to write about it.

Now, as the Rolex 24 looms at Daytona once again, Bob Margolis will be one of the reporters walking into the Infield Media Center ready to get back to work. While nothing in life is certain, Bob finally made public his struggle with an outstanding column that is a must-read for every NASCAR fan. It can be read by clicking here.

Bob's article talks about the people who helped him and the people he met along the way during this season on the brink. I never thought that I would be one of those people. It's been one of my greatest pleasures to know that Bob is reading my columns, and appreciates what we are trying to do with The Daly Planet.

In just a couple of weeks, it will also be my pleasure to read Bob's stories of the Rolex 24, and know that he is once again at Daytona...where the real healing process can begin.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.


Tripp said...

Bob Margolis is a real hero.

The words in his article likely only scratched the surface of what he probably went through, but they imparted a sense of what it must have felt like to traverse his own personal abyss.

Clearly, Bob's a fighter who drew upon all of his resources, both within and those around him, to surmount an untenable situation. If I ever face something like Bob's endured, I hope that I can summon even a fraction of Bob's courage. He's now one of my heroes.

As a sidebar, it's interesting but not surprising that there was a "South Shore" sized swell of support from all corners of the NASCAR family. It's one more thing in a long list that makes our sport, and those inside of it, uniquely special.

matt said...

I had read on Jayski's a while back that Bob was battling cancer, but when I saw him writing his articles for Yahoo! without any mention of his cancer, I had assumed he beaten the illness. So I was shocked when I read Bob's article on Tuesday about the terrible battle he has been going the past year. It was the most horrifying thing I have read in a long time. It sent chills up my spine and brought tears to my eyes. I have no idea how Bob was able to deal with the toll the disease took on him, and I'm not sure I would have been half as strong as he was.

I am so thrilled he is doing well now, and wish him nothing but the best. I look forward to reading his articles throughout the 2008 season.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't read Bob's story, go read it now.

It's inspiring, funny, and scary, all at once.

I'm glad you're such a fighter, Bob. We'd miss you if you were gone.

Brian said...

I read Bob's story as well, it truly is inspiring, and definitely deserves a read by everyone.

Jo said...

Survivors of cancers like Bob leave me awestruck. As a survivor of early stage breast cancer since 10/21/94 I am amazed at the human spirit - my treatments only lasted 9 months, his was much longer and MANY more surgeries and treatments . Yet he persisted & kept his life as "normal" as he could.

Bob is an inspiration to me, to keep going. If by some chance you have not read the entire article, go read it now. It will put any aches or pains in a new perspective.
Thank you Bob for putting your story in such eloquent words, and many thanks John for the link.

TexasRaceLady said...

JD, when you see Bob, please shake his hand and tell him that I admire his courage and tenacity.

By the time I was finished reading his story, I was shaking in my shoes. My little aches and complaints are nothing in comparison.

darbar said...

The old Indian saying "don't judge until you walk in my moccasins" rings true here. Once you read his story, you are nothing short of thankful for the health and blessings you have. What a courageous person.

Newracefan said...

Thanks to Jayski I had already read Bob's article and as I nurse I can tell you what he went through with 2 different cancers at the same time is scary even from my perspective. How he handled it was amazing to me but the overwhelming support he received from the Nascar family should be used as a role model for others to follow. Support can mean the difference between being able to handle the hand that was dealt and giving in and losing to the disease. Please, if you (fellow bloggers) know someone fighting cancer or any severe disease, show your support even something as simple as a card, email, or promise of in my prayers can help.

PS JD I'm glad that Daytona helped you decide to create this blog and I am hoping it will cause you to be able to continue it. Through your blog I feel we are part of the Nascar fan family and that's secial too.

Busch Series Fan! said...

Hubby will be there in Daytona at the Rolex race. It's always a great weekend at Daytona and hopefully the weather will be sunny and warm. My best to Bob and his recovery too.