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 Columns & Editorials

June 20, 2001

Integrity, A Fading Value

By Jane Smith
Integrity, according to Webster's Dictionary, means "a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values." Something that everyone thinks they have but often throw away when money comes into the picture.

About two weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this once gallant value thrown out the door for many still does exit in a few. A young man, someone I like to think of as a friend, had a great opportunity to drive in a door opening race series. He drove one race and showed not only the car owners but the TV audience that he had talent behind a race car wheel. This was a great opportunity to set the wheels in motion for his dream, one he and his parents had worked long and hard for.

As I talked to his dad that night at the track and told him how proud I was of his son and the job he did, his dad beamed. But after a few minutes of remembering that race, his dad told me that he would not be driving for this team after all. It seemed that this ride had a condition, one which most drivers would not mind doing but one that went against this young man's integrity, he had to fire the manager that got him the ride.

Now for most racers, this would not be a problem. They had the ride and it was their's but the man who got them there, had to go. Simple for some, not right for others. The dad did not answer for his son although he knew in his head what he would do but this was not his decision. That belonged to his son, the driver.

The team wanted this young man badly but they had their standards and rules. They explained that they did not deal with managers although it was a manager who got the young man the trial ride. Without hesitation, the young man knew what was right, who got him at this place and who would work for him in the future. He gave up the ride and stayed with the man who got him there and will again.

Integrity, a value that is extremely important and yet seldom practiced, shown brightly around this young man and his family. Knowing what is right and what is wrong when it comes to value especially in racing very seldom is shown. The dollar means more and sometimes, not always, the driver makes the wrong choice and goes with the money and not what he knows is right. When this happens, both lose in the long wrong if the ride does not work out and the manager does not feel that loyalty meant more than the dollar.

Not many racers get to their dreams. It is a long, hard ride and one that has many bumps in the road. But for this young man, he rather drive Super Late models in our sunshine state than to cut the throat of the man who stands l00% behind him. For some a very easy thing to do when it comes to racing and your dream.

In today's world where no one seems to have morals and values anymore, on a wet Friday night, I saw integrity once again. As I talked to this young man and his feelings on what this team had offered him and the conditions of the offer, I could see in his eyes that integrity is an important value in his life. He told me that he knew his manager would get him another ride and that if that ride did not work out, he would find him yet another one. But this manager had done nothing wrong and he was not willing to cut his throat for a ride.

Sometimes our dreams cost us more than they should. When you add dollar signs to those dreams, sometimes that makes us chose the wrong course. For this young man, stabbing someone in the back was not the course he wanted to follow for his dream.

At what cost do we draw the line between what is right and what is wrong? Do we sell out the people who get us where we want to be or do we say "no thank you" at that expense.

Integrity showed it's face to me on a wet Friday night in the smile of a 17 year old and his beaming father. There will be other rides but seldom do you find a manager who works so hard to get you that ride. You do not cut off the hand that feeds you for if things don't work out, you have no one in your corner. Integrity, such a good word and so seldom used.

Jane Smith

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