One of the hardest things to do in life is to pick yourself back up after you’ve been knocked down. And sometimes the harder you are knocked off your feet, the tougher it is to stand back up.
For most of us, when we feel defeated, we have the ability to choose who we share our feelings with, such as our close family and friends. We also have the chance to react to these situations and try to pull ourselves together before we face the rest of the world.
But even then, your world is mainly made up of people who you know personally and who you’ve chosen to be part of your life.
As a human being, I go through most of the same things everyone else goes through. I have the opportunity to choose who I share things with and when I share them.
However, as an athlete and as a racing driver, I am not afforded that courtesy in every aspect of my life. When I win it’s shared with everyone on a very public stage; however, the flip side is when I lose, I’m still on that same public stage.
Not fast enough
This all became very intense last year at the Indy 500 when our car was not fast enough to qualify for the race.
We knew we had a problem the day before qualifying, and we did everything in our power to solve it in the time we had. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
Until that moment, I had always thought that even if the car wasn’t there, I could take more downforce off, make the car faster down the straights, more tricky in the corners, take more risks and hang myself all the way over the edge for those four laps to make the speed happen. I’ve certainly done that before, but last year nothing made a difference.
I had to sit with tears streaming down my face as they took my “qualifying photo” for a race which I had not qualified for. I had to go to a press conference to face the media and talk about what had happened to us, and why we simply couldn’t go fast enough to make the field of 33.
I also had to face the bombardment on social media. As a woman, who drives a racing car for a living, I’m fairly sure you can imagine what my feeds and timelines look like any time something goes wrong. It was devastating.
As an athlete and a racer, I have certainly failed before. All athletes and all racers go through this throughout their careers. The ones that make it are always the ones who are able to continue to lift themselves back up and keep coming back stronger.
However last May, I genuinely thought that was it. I am not a full-time racer, and I didn’t have the opportunity to get back in the car and make things right for my sponsors the next race weekend.
I have the opportunity to race at this level one time per year, and it takes me an entire year’s worth of work to find the funding to compete. After I didn’t qualify for the Indy 500, I didn’t know how I would be able to find my way back.
On that Indy 500 Race Day, I was in a suite looking after my sponsors, instead of on the race track where I was supposed to be and Tim Clauson approached me. He was just as devastated as I was by what happened to me and he wanted to help. From that tiny acorn, on a race day, where I was supposed to be on the track, a plan started to grow.
Nine months later, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we announced Clauson Marshall Racings first ever entry into the Indianapolis 500, and they chose me as their driver for the 2019 race.
Our title sponsor is Driven2SaveLives – an organ donation and transplantation awareness campaign that honors Tim’s son, Bryan. Sadly, Bryan passed away from injuries sustained in a racing accident. However, as an organ and tissue donor, Bryan was able to save five lives.
The pressure is definitely on this May to make sure we have the type of come-back everyone involved deserves. But then pressure is one of the key elements that can turn a lump of coal into a diamond.
OrthoIndy has provided orthopedic care for the racing community for years and is excited to be another one of Pippa’s sponsors for the third year in a row.
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