One benefit of the relationship was that Brian was able to join the Bryan Herta Motorsports team in the pits for the qualifying laps, Saturday, as well as for the race, Sunday. The race proved frustrating for Wilson but Saavedra brought his car home in fourth place. Brian was standing alongside Saavedra’s father and as Brian congratulated him on his son’s good fortunes, Saacedra’s father remarked “Sebastian understands well what I always taught him; if you don’t have a first place car, don’t drive it like one! Drive the car you have, finish the race, and take the points!”
Checking the web for results of the Indy Car race later, I came across the online publication PaddockTalk and read a posting by M Sulka on the fortunes of Wil Power, an Australian racer with Team Penske and a pre-race favorite to win the event. Unfortunately, Power only managed a third place finish and, according to the Sulka, Power had remarked, "once it became clear we weren't going to win … I just consolidated my position, and tried to get good points." Almost the same expression as Brian had heard in the pits of Bryan Herta Motorsport. These comments, coming as they did as I was developing the storyline for this blog posting, it only served to remind me of what went through my own mind that weekend at the Auto Club Speedway.
It’s still a surprise to me how much good advice a father can provide. In the Saavedra family, it certainly made a difference. Last year I missed another NASA weekend at Buttonwillow as my father passed away and we made the trip back to Sydney to attend his memorial service. His last car? Yes, he bought a stick-shift sports car and only reluctantly gave it up a short time back when his diminishing eyesight made trips just a tad too exciting for my sister, Judy.
Would he have wanted to help me with my routines? I have no doubt he would. My father never saw me at the track, but we frequently discussed at length our outings with NASA. I was never given the good advice for racing that Saavedra received from his father, but the love I have for cars, and for driving, definitely was a gift from my father.
I could complain about the car all I wanted, that weekend in Fontana, to anyone prepared to listen. As racers know only too well, to finish first, you first must finish! There wasn’t much that I could do about the Corvette’s automatic gearbox, of course, but like Power and Saavedra, I simply had to reconcile with the fact that the Corvette was only going to give me what it had, and I was just going to have to drive the car I had!