By Jamal T. Johnson | Contributing Writer
Sly and The Family Stone coined these words, “It’s a Family Affair” in 1971, who knew then that the hook of that album would reach NHRA Racing. As a newcomer to this high-energy and action-packed sport, the one phrase I kept hearing as I talked with the drivers was “family.”
As a former athlete, I understand the concept of family in team sports. We ride together, we die together, I am my brother’s keeper, we must protect this house. These affirmations fuel a passion and desire for one to leave everything on the field for someone they may or may not have a connection with.
However, as the mechanics fine-tune the vehicles, and the excitement mounts from many fans outside in the preparation area, family means something else. Family means that you may have thought about doing this ever again, but because your father means that much to you, you have to do it for him.
Family for Antron Brown means we all come out to the track, yes, even grandma! The Brown family seemed to all enjoy the day for different reasons. For a brother, it means being the silent support in the corner.
Being there in whatever capacity, he is needed. For grandma, it means, talking to the many fans that approach the area. When I spoke to her, she found out where I worked: Ewing, NJ. This town happens to be where she grew up, for the next half hour, she shared some vital information that helped me understand recent actions that had taken place.
For the driver, having his family around seed to keep him cool, calm and collected. The smiles from them all showed that they were in their place, they were home!
Family is very important in all of our lives. When one can do what they love and have the full support of their family, it helps them to push that much harder for success. What I have learned and now respect from NHRA racing is the family atmosphere that is set by all involved in making the week a success, from the security to the drivers themselves: everyone is made to feel at home.
Everyone is seen as part of the family. It is truly a family affair.
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