The Frontstretch: ‘I’ll race ya!’ is in our genes by Cheryl Walker -- Monday February 21, 2005

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‘I’ll race ya!’ is in our genes

Cheryl Walker · Monday February 21, 2005

 

Do you remember when you were a kid?

I know. Some of us have never grown up yet. But let’s be chronological here, and forget where we’re at in mental maturity.

What I’m talking about is our inner need to feel the speed. To see who is faster than whom; who can get there first. I can’t say when this human phenomena starts, but babies do seem to be seeing how quickly they can get their parents to their room with their wild cries in the night. Haven’t you ever seen a howling infant suddenly become very satisfied when the harried mother enters the room? Then mysteriously refuse all of the comforts a mother would offer? We all assume the child is just glad to see his devoted parent in the dark of night; but, perhaps he or she is really smirking to himself about having caused a new parental speed record.

As a toddler, and one who has discovered they can self-propel themselves, the game to beat their parents to a destination begins.

“I’m going to get to those interesting stairs before Mommy can grab me away from them!” and “Ah ha! There’s the street! Try and catch me!” are just two examples of the many races that a toddler runs with his ever-diligent-but-awfully-weary parents during the early years.

Once a child is more independent and playing with neighborhood kids, they become involved in a wide variety of speed-based games. What about the time-honored favorite of kids everywhere: playing tag? Your goal is to either get to ‘home base’ before the person who is ‘it’, or, if you are ‘it’, to tag someone before they get to home base. It is simple, yet a game that has lasted for generations.

Your ‘stick-and-ball’ sports are all dependent on speed, and a kid quickly learns from their parents and coaches all of the tricks to be the best and fastest athlete that they can.

We are all familiar with what happens when a lot of young men (and perhaps a little less often, women) get their driver’s licenses, and experience the thrill of being in control of a vehicle capable of speed. That parking lots everywhere now have those irritating speed bumps is an indication that it didn’t take long for two young racing wanna-be’s to see a long straight-away and say, “I can beat you to the end of the lot!” Insurance companies everywhere can support the notion that at least some of the young people who are new to being behind the wheel of a car find the experience heady, exciting, and, unfortunately, dangerous as well.

The human ‘need for speed’ continues through a person’s lifetime. We have all seen the balding middle-aged gentlemen in their red Corvettes revving their engines at red lights, as well as the silver-haired grandmothers ogling the muscle cars at the car shows. (I swear to you I once heard one of these women tell the owner of a shiny red ’70 Chevelle that riding in one was as good as experiencing a particular form of affection between two loving people, and that’s as close to telling you precisely what she said as my editors will allow. She looked like the lady that watches your children on Sunday morning during church services, but her heart obviously still beats with all of the adrenaline and ‘lust for life’ that her young counterparts do.)

It is no surprise to me that forms of racing have endured since the days when young men hopped in their chariots and tore up the dirt tracks of Rome.

It’s in our blood, I tell you.

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Cheryl is no longer a contributor to the Frotnstretch, having branched out on her own, starting CawsnJaws with her son Josh. If you'd like to see more of Cheryl's Frontstretch articles, check out her bio and archive page.