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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on February 10th, 2016, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 16, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 16, Issue 49

Balancing marriage and racing

Krider drives on a tightrope between death and divorce

By ROB KRIDER

I consider myself a man of many titles: husband, father, writer, racecar driver, and gentleman adventurer. These are the titles I use to categorize myself, of course. Other people refer to me as procrastinator, speeder, or guy who leaves his garbage cans at the curb one day too long. Of all of these titles, whether self-proclaimed or otherwise, the one I love the most is racecar driver. I’m probably supposed to say husband, but I said racecar driver, and thus I illustrate the struggle of being both. Let me tell you how I try and balance the two.

There’s no question, racing is awesome. It’s the most expensive, selfish, and dangerously awesome thing you can do. It will drain your bank account. It will envelope all of your free time. It can destroy relationships. Finding a healthy balance between racing and marriage is a very difficult thing to accomplish. 

The first rule in having a successful marriage as a racecar driver is: Don’t get married. If you’ve already broken the first rule and are currently being held back by a significant other as you chase your racing dreams, then you need to adjust your focus and attempt to be a reasonable sharing and caring person (good luck, Speed Racer). 

You need to be a person who is not just completely obsessed with getting that extra two horsepower out of an engine or finding that 10th of a second at the track. You need to be a person who is present in the relationship, especially when it’s your special someone’s birthday, or just any regular day when you should be listening, as opposed to surfing Craigslist for an extra set of lightweight wheels. If you can’t find that important balance, then start finding a divorce attorney (and never let anyone know how much you paid for your tools—those are big assets).

I’ve been racing since I was old enough to stand up to take a leak. I’ve been a complete lunatic and selfish, egotistical jerk about racing since the moment I earned my competition license. And I’ve been married to Mrs. Krider for nearly 20 years. How am I able to do it? It’s easy: Mrs. Krider is a kind and selfless person. The real question is, how is she able to do it?

It isn’t easy. And we almost didn’t make it. After one particularly busy motorsports season when I raced in four different racing series, chased a season-long endurance championship, and decided I had to do a demolition derby at the state fair, my wife, whom I love, informed me that if I went to one more race she wouldn’t be at the house when I got back. This was particularly bad news for me as I was one race away from clinching a championship.

We found a way to work through our problems, and more importantly, I found a way to still win that championship (like any selfish racer). My wife’s announcement that she was leaving was a real wake-up call for me that there were serious problems and they had nothing to do with the head gasket on my Honda.

The first thing that had to be resolved was the schedule. I needed to prioritize my wife and family over the race team. These days my wife and I discuss a year in advance what events I’d like to do, how many weekends I will be away, and how much travel is involved.

The schedule is very important to her for good reasons. Three years in a row I had to be at a race on Mother’s Day. As fun as I think being at the racetrack is, most mothers don’t share in that joy (especially ones with little kids to chase around the paddock). To make up for my absence on one single important day, I came up with “Mother’s Day Weekend Extravaganza!” MDWE is three days at any vacation spot my wife chooses. 

Now when I look at my racing budget for the year, I have to consider how much the race will cost and how much more it will cost to take my baby someplace coastal for a three-day weekend. If that sounds too expensive for you, then take a field trip to family court and you will see that a weekend at a bed and breakfast near the beach is a damned bargain.

Money, money, money, it’s a problem for any marriage, but exponentially difficult for racing families. Little Johnny needs braces? But the race car needs a new limited slip differential. You have to be reasonable about what’s really important. Braces isn’t a tough one (nobody wants to stare at Johnny’s overbite) but when your special someone wants a new couch to go where a perfectly working couch is already placed and you want to buy tires for the last race of the year? That’s a more difficult decision. Can your old tires make it through one more event? I don’t know, can you afford a good divorce attorney?

To rectify the money issue, Mrs. Krider came up with a financial plan and a separate savings account for racing (which just happens to be matched dollar for dollar with a savings account for tropical vacations). These tropical places don’t have cool stuff to do, like go-kart tracks, but my wife enjoys these tropical paradises as much as I enjoy racing cars, so I don’t argue.

Another thing we did to adjust our marriage/racing conundrum was make the track a nice place to be for Mrs. Krider. Dumping her at a hot track with no chair, no shade, no food, and nothing to do (except watch me drive awesomely) is not a smart plan. Instead of buying a new car for the next racing season, we invested in a motor home. Now Mrs. Krider has all the creature comforts of her regular home and doesn’t hate being at the track. Full disclosure: It was all part of my master plan to get her to cook for the crew, which she always does without complaint. Remember, I said she was a kind person.

So a healthy balance between marriage and racing comes down to: communication, scheduling, budgeting expendable income (if there is such a thing), and a big-ass motor home. Oh, and I forgot one more very important part: Don’t be stupid enough to post pictures all over social media of you getting chummy with the girls on the podium. Turns out, wives don’t think that’s very cool. 

Rob Krider’s wife is a saint. Contact him through Arts Editor Joe Payne at jpayne@santamariasun.com.




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