It’s no secret at my house that May is my favorite month of the year. That’s because in Indiana, the month of May brings the Indianapolis 500 to my hometown. Racing in the Indy 500 is my dream, so I am sure you can understand why I really like the month of May.
But there is something else I love celebrating in May too – Mother’s Day. My mom and I are close. Most people think that it was my dad that got me interested in racing, but it was actually my mom. She comes from a family full of short track and go kart racers which is where my love of the sport comes from.
For as long as I can remember, my mom and I have gone to racetracks together and had great conversations as we watched the cars pass by. In fact, it’s been where we’ve had some of our best discussions. We’ve laughed together and teased each other as we tried to guess who the race winner would be. The track is where we’ve talked about my dreams and all the work it will take to reach them. It’s also where we talked about being respectful and responsible, about making thoughtful decisions, and about the consequences that can happen when I don’t.
I love racing, and rarely do I forget a good race when I see one. But the funny thing is, I haven’t forgotten most of the conversations that I have had at the track with my mom either. We’ve talked about all the things I need to do to be a professional racer. We’ve talked about the huge responsibility that comes with being a role model and how difficult it can be to make good decisions when you feel pressure to follow the crowd. We’ve talked about the importance of saying no to underage drinking and have even talked about how some race car drivers might think they are experienced enough to take dangerous risks like driving drunk. But the consequences can be devastating. No driver is good enough, whether professional or not, to take a risk like that.
The good news is that these conversations have an impact and have helped me make smart choices. In fact, parents are the number one influence on their kids’ decisions to drink – or not to drink – alcohol. With 85% of parents and 86% of kids reporting that they’ve talked together about alcohol within the last year, it feels good knowing that so many families are also having these important conversations.
My favorite saying that my mom has shared with me is from when I started racing. She said, “It’s harder to be a superhero than it is to be a bad guy. Be super!” Honestly, I didn’t really know what she meant when I was five, but I know now. When I was racing, she expected me to drive clean and respect the other drivers. Off the track, she expected good decisions. She still does.
It’s tough sometimes to be responsible and make the right decisions about things like drinking underage, but it’s important because the consequences are real and can affect the trajectory of our goals and dreams.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, but especially to you, Mom. For all you do, the things you continue to teach me, and the conversations we continue to have – I love you.
Read more about Responsibility.org here.