HOW CAN I SAY THANK YOU?
How can I say thank you, when you think that all you did was drive a race-car fast?
How can I say thank you, when you're just being you.
How can I say thank you, for all the times you made us edge a little closer, or a little farther from the edge of our seats.
How can I say thank you for the feeling I get when you flick the switch on any of those hot rods you've run for near enough to fifty years?
For that laid back yet still impossibly flat out approach to your life.
For those easy going, cool as hell grins you give everyone who meets you.
For the time you spend with people.
For your humility.
"Oh yeah, that's just Jac," they say.
"The wiiiiiiiilllllllld chiiiiiiiiiiiiild," the announcers bellow.
"Jac, Jac, Jac," the fans chant.
I saw him run for the first time in the flesh in 1992.
It was Eldora.
He was beyond my comprehension.
A diminutive, non obtrusive (out of the car) man with the coolness of Jan Michael Vincent and the affability of a surfer dropping in on a four footer in Malibu.
You'd walk right past him if he was in his plain clothes.
You mightn't even know, as you passed by, that you just walked past one of the immortals of our sport.
A man who was born without a fear gland.
Who honestly never has, and may never will, understand the impact he's had on fans, on officials and even on his rivals.
A man who could never understand all the fuss people make when all he's doing what he always wanted to - drive a race-car very fast.
A man who has won some of the biggest races on the planet - particularly at his beloved "Big E" - but is that his true measure?
No it's not.
What's Jac Haudenschild's true measure then?
What's his legacy?
Well to begin with there's that kid of his.
You know, the one with a chrome set of intestinal fortitudes like his old man.
Who knocks down cushions and the occasional wall too.
And never lifts.
There's his passionate, loyal, colourful and driving force - his wife Patti.
There's his daughter Raquel and her little boy who made him Grandjac.
Mostly, there's the impact he's left on this global Sprint Car industry.
On its community.
He's your favourite driver but even if you got someone else but you damn sure don't dislike the little guy from Wooster either.
Hell he's Switzerland.
Switzerland but with a Howitzer.
Tonight Jac Haudenschild drives at the Knoxville Nationals for the final time.
As he edges closer to the inevitable end of the road I feel so grateful, yet at the same time so selfish.
I'm not ready for it to be over.
I'm not ready for 'my guy' to knock it out of gear and join the ever growing band of legends who stand by but no longer stand on the gas.
I'm just not.
But I do know, I'm not ready and neither's he, to be a guy who just makes up the field.
Jac doesn't want that either.
"You're not going to be happy unless you're going Mach two with your hair on fire you know that," Maverick was told in Top Gun.
And Jac is no different.
He doesn't want to just be out there.
That's how he's made.
THANK YOU Jac.
You made even the crappiest day for us something beautiful when you ran the cushion - or OVER the cushion.
Your 'day to day' routine were some of my best days.
Waiting for that moment when you crushed the right side pedal for that first time in hot laps is something that I always cherished.
I know it's not like your life is over.
In many ways it's just beginning.
And I know that even though this is another chapter in the extraordinary book of 'The New Testament - Wild Child' it doesn't mean I won't miss turning back those pages and marvelling to myself out loud how the hell did he do just do that?
Jac freaking Haudenschild.
The most regular guy on the planet by day - and my ultimate hammer down hero by night.
Wade Aunger is a longtime Australian racing announcer who you may be familiar with as a voice for the Knoxville Nationals. Wade has an extreme passion for motorsports, moonshine, the American race fan and their patriotism. Racing Pro Media is happy to share some of Wade's writings.
Recently Wade launched Methanol Moonshine and we strongly suggest you give it a try. Check out the links below and give him a follow!
Follow Wade Aunger on Facebook:
Check out Methanol Moonshine:
https://www.facebook.com/MethanolMoonshine and https://www.methanolmoonshine.com.au/
Get the merch: https://methanolmoonshinemerch.com/
Follow Jac Haudenschild and get his merch:
https://www.facebook.com/JacHaudenschildRacing and https://shopjachaud.com/
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