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  • Writer's pictureNed Neuhaus

Trying to reach that goal

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Meters rowed 567,752

Meters to go 432,248

Goals met this weekend 0

Setting goals

Since retiring from my formal career, I have tried to do a better job of laying out challenges or goals to start each year, my work goals tended to take much of my attention in prior years. This year, in addition to the big goal of a million meters (I am over half way there!), my list included setting a new personal best lap at Road America.

If you are not into racing, it may not seem like a big deal. But, Road America is one of the legendary road courses in the US, has tons of history and is huge, really huge. While not as technically challenging as other road courses, it is known for its speed and elevation changes. It is simply an amazing place.

Last year, I fell just short of one of my desires, a sub 2:30 lap at Road America. In fact, I ran a 2:30.0. What made that even more frustrating, I was having tire issues and ran it in street tires (noticeably slower than race tires), I KNOW I can run a sub 2:30, I just can't seem to make it a reality!


It has become a cliche, but 2020 is like no other year anyone can remember. It has had it high points for me (I am in great physical shape, I am loving coaching online, and my driving has continued to improve, to name a few). But, 2020 has had its share of low points as well.

I was really psyched to go to a 2 day event at Road America this weekend. I could visualize my lap, I was feeling very confident. Unfortunately, 2020 had a different plan.

NASCAR was at Road America Thursday - Saturday. We had the track Sunday and Monday. Sunday got off to a slow start due to some logistics as a result of NASCAR's visit and the unexpected rain early in the morning. I decided I would sit out the first session of the day to reduce stress of rushing to get ready and, more importantly, to let the track dry.

10:00 was my first session. I had planned to run my first session with a new set of tires that needed to be broken in (slow laps, increasing speed for just 10-15 minutes). The last lap of the break in should be close to full speed. I leisurely put in a 2:32 lap. Things were looking great for my goal.

12:45 was my next session. I put on my fastest tires and headed out. My "out" lap was very strong. I crossed the start feeling good. I then ran into traffic and didn't feel as it had slowed me much. Coming into turn 14, my number was on the board to come in for something. I met the starter and she informed me I made a pass in an area that was not permitted. I honestly had misread the passing zones, so apologized and went back out to resume my session.

Then 2020 came home to roost. About halfway through the lap, the car started vibrating uncontrollably. I limped it back to the paddock. Temperatures were rising way beyond comfortable levels. I let the car cool a bit. A friend and I thought a motor mount was loose and might be the source of the vibration. We removed the header to get at the motor mount (only burning myself several times). We tightened a slightly loose bolt and put everything back together. We test fired the engine and there was no improvement. We then realized the cooling system needed a repair we couldn't make at the track. My weekend was over before it even started. I was crushed!

My friend had to go and we said goodbye. I set about putting things away so I could load the car on the trailer. I picked up my toolbox. In what seemed like slow motion, I dropped over 300 pieces all over the ground. Not a single piece stayed in the box!

It took over 20 minutes to painstakingly put each piece back in its place.

Lesson learned

I let myself get upset. I let myself get stressed. I was short with people only trying to help.

In short, I felt sorry for myself. I have not done that in a long time. Since my diagnosis, I have tried very hard to focus on the positive and what is really important. While setting a new personal best is a nice goal, it is not really important. It is nice to have.

It is unlikely I will make it back to Road America in 2020. That is ok. There is still time to enjoy what I have accomplished this year and find pleasure in the short time I did get to drive on that majestic road course. Not many people get to say they have done that. I am grateful.

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