Winter is usually the worst time of the year for me and as the title suggests, a lot has to do with understanding what “freedom” is.

What is freedom? What warranted a check mark on my promises that I couldn’t get done?

I don’t know right now and turned to be the only true failure of an otherwise prosperous year where I’ve grown a lot.

I’m not totally pleased that I’m still trying to get my license, but I can’t put an X because I’m still in progress of getting there. Additionally, that memoir project has taken a massive backseat because I really don’t know how I want it to be like.

Do I want to open about my life, just exclusively since 2018 or cover key points of my life where I’ve grown or struggled?

Those three “blemishes” may be shameful, but the other 11 that I was able to accomplish (three since October) has made 2019 a success. Compared to only fulfilling 8 of 14 in 2018, I’m mostly satisfied to improve on my mark.

Here’s my final rundown of my “List of Promises” of 2019. Officially wrapped up on the 30th of December.

Promise No. 1: 500 Miles (Complete)

Still haven’t really finalized my 2020 plans, but I definitely hope a second crack at the Daytona 500 is among my stops. I feel like I have some unfinished business there.

It’s been 10 months since the amazing ride began at Daytona Beach. Now heading into the new year, all I’m thinking of is doing another one and try to focus on capturing amazing shots.

Not only that, know which stories to cover without overworking myself. I love giving it my absolute all, but as the season unfolded, I had to pick and choose what works I can do in order to achieve high quality content.

What was it? Over 20 articles I wrote during Speedweeks.

I don’t think it’ll be that crazy of a number, but at least I know that doing both writing and photography is what makes me alive. It’s arguably the best version of me, the dedicated workhorse that’s willing to get the job done at the highest level.

Promise No. 2: Profiling with the Videoscope (Completed)

Allowing myself time to put a quick profile video before the major task at hand in Phoenix was worth it. I’ve never tried this style before, but I’d say it turned out well.

I’m really proud to have accomplished this promise because videography is still a passion I really want to grow on next year.

This profile video I did at Phoenix taught me a lot of things. Doing a video like this isn’t that easy while also doing portrait shots during golden hour.

There’s a lot of adjustments required from changing ISOs and whatnot. Also, not tripping myself onto some rocks while climbing and shooting the video. I may have tripped once or twice, but fortunately I kept my balance afloat.

It was a vibe doing this project during my spare time before focusing on the NASCAR weekend at ISM Raceway.

Promise No. 3: Eastbound & Down (Completed)

Something different to share, an LED Kevin Harvick pit sign from Daytona

What’s hard of coming to the East Coast after doing just Daytona is finding nonstop flights.

That’s why I lean most on the West Coast races because its more feasible. Eventually, I’d love to do a couple more East Coast races, but right now the closest one may just be Daytona again and St. Petersburg.

Sure, venues like Indianapolis go by EST (Eastern Standard Time) but is it really East? Absolutely not!

Will see how my schedule shapes up, but for now it’s another trip to Florida that I’ll be seeing the East Cost lifestyle for the time being.

Promise No. 4: SoCal Vibes (Completed)

I can’t get over the fact how much I loved being in Southern California for a couple of weeks. I’d do it again in a heartbeat whenever time allows me to go back.

A trip to Southern California remains the medicine I needed back in April. Kind of a bummer that I won’t be able to take a vacation there in 2020 since the INDYCAR schedule changed up quite a bit where that time off after Long Beach is now occupied by a race in Austin, TX.

It’s okay though, Long Beach is still going to be a track that I’ll likely cover again. Sure, this time around it’ll be more business but as the saying goes, I’ll do my damnest to put time on seeing friends.

Time will tell when my next true vacation down there will happen, and you bet I’ll ride a bicycle on a beach blasting some music throughout the day.

Promise No. 5: Autism Awareness (Completed)

This video remains one of my personal favorites because of how long it took me to put a video and believing the words I wrote about how I see things.

One of the three OG promises I set back in 2018 was finally fulfilled this year and it’s still my proudest goal I accomplished.

This took me over two years to fully develop, especially figuring out how the video portion is going to be. I had multiple ideas and ultimately decided to let my shots from Daytona Beach set the tone, but also allow my words be the true infrastructure of what I wanted this goal to be about.

People with autism have different paths. We’re not equal by any stretch. It’s something that’s misunderstood and being a guy that’s more often than not, understood, I definitely know how it feels.

If you haven’t seen the video, I encourage you to do so and see why this matters to me.

Promise No. 6: Last Note of Freedom (Mission Failed)

This picture of Max McLaughlin’s wounded car after the opening lap melee at Gateway best describes my disappointment of not fulfilling this promise.

It really sucks to have not feel free for the first time in my life. I thought this year was going to be the year I can understand that freedom life.

There are a lot of things I’m not happy with my life and it’s really holding me back to be the true man I want to be.

What’s the issue? Not feeling loved? Can’t find a woman that could make me stronger and can do the same for her? The lack of a driver’s license? People actually taking me seriously?

I could ask many questions, but the truth is – I don’t know what the hell is my personal freedom!

It needs to be 100% of the time. Not just at the track, but also with my weekly life which has been abysmal when being handcuffed every day doing what I hate and feel miserable.

That hate and misery is my non-media job which allows me to get to the destinations in the first place. Other than that, there’s no genuine joy getting up in the dark and arrive home in the dark.

I have to find reasons to enjoy it which is hard to do when it’s really not what your heart desires.

Then the feeling of loneliness has eaten me up all year after years of not letting that shit define me.

I’m only 25 years old, but when you have nothing to think about, it does get me when it really shouldn’t.

So I’ll learn from this failure and hope that in 2020, I can build myself up into a confident human being to where I feel comfortable of opening up my feelings. Not here of course!

Promise No. 7: Driving at Last (Still In Progress)

I’m a simple man, if I know there’s race cars being displayed at a museum like this one here at Phoenix, you bet I’ll make time to go! Now here’s some Jim Clark for you guys!

The past month, I’ve taken a lot of time to nail that guide down to the point I’m super comfortable of taking those exams and driving lessons.

This turned out to be the most amount of time I had to put a legit effort and while I’m still chasing that license heading into the Double 20s. I honestly feel it shouldn’t be much longer until I get over the hump and live that dream of driving.

I mean, I must now if I want to make it back to Laguna Seca or some batshit venue like Eldora in late July.

Promise No. 8: Bi-Monthly Reports (Completed)

Phoenix was the coronation of completing the daunting task of doing one race weekend in person every other month. It was also where I had my best set of racing photos to date.

10 race weekends in a span 10 months wasn’t easy to accomplish, but doing one every other month, which really kind of became every month towards the end, was an unforgettable learning experience.

Every venue, whether it’s the streets of Long Beach or at my local track in Monroe, has brought a different experience.

For the most part, it has been positives. Sure there was some frustrations (ex. Gateway and Laguna Seca) and instances where I beat myself up (ex. Daytona), but I often leave the venue after a hard working weekend with a smile.

I wrapped up the grind at Texas and Phoenix. Both of which saw some memorable outcomes and stories I had the honor putting together. Even my photos have progressed and was willing to try new things I wouldn’t dare to try back in the spring.

All of which makes me excited to get the new racing season going, so I can flourish in the writing and photography side of things.

Should be the same concept I’ll be aiming towards in 2020, so here’s to more race weekends that I’ll certainly document here or on the Motorsports Tribune website.

Promise No. 9: Photography Expansion (Completed)

While I only did two legit photoshoots this year, I’m excited to see how many more I can do going forward. This photography thing drives me so much because there’s a story to be told in every shot and hope I can continue doing that.

What a strong year it was from a photographer point of view. I’ve had a chance to do some work for Action Sports Photography, Inc. at Portland and Laguna Seca. Did some concerts that left my ears deaf for a few days, and of course tried nailing down the racing aspect of photography.

Hell, I even try to take some photos of professional wrestling and see where it goes long-term. Still trying to work on getting the ideal look such as proper lighting and eliminate the blurs.

At least, when I’ve done some photo shoots like the one I did in Phoenix, I’m slowly getting the handle of looking for the right shot that best displays someone’s personality.

I’m hoping to do more projects in 2020, especially when I travel around the United States when time allows.

If interested, let me know and go from there because I want to make it a regular thing on my site.

Promise No. 10: Belongingness (Completed)

Things can change where goals that was intended to be something different, drastically changes and it becomes whole different meaning. (Photo: DeVonne Ryter)

This elusive struggle of understanding how to belong was meant to be a video project. It’s always been established to be as such for two years, but you know something?

Things have changed over time that a video can’t illustrate what I’ve struggled all throughout the 2010s.

When I look back to 2019, I’ll think about an epiphany I low key had towards the end of the “tour” at Phoenix.

Although I’ll never be embraced at Idaho, there’s something about being a part of the motorsports world that makes me feel like I belong in that often cut throat environment.

I may not like some people’s way of doing their gigs. It became super clear a few weeks back over a retirement story I was really pissed off about. However, those people I’ve met and establish quite a solid bond made me realize that belongingness varies from person-to-person.

Sure, I may not be happy with my personal living outside of the media world, but when it comes down to it, my needs of feeling accepted was fulfilled on a regular basis.

Who needs a video of me explaining my frustrations of not feeling welcomed that hasn’t been updated since 2017!

Like seriously, my own personal gut can tell me if belongingness is the word I can associate when describing my life. In the end, it did felt that way and couldn’t be more satisfied.

Is it because I tend to be around them every now and then? I’d say that’s the case.

I’ve struggled having continuity of feeling accepted long-term which has hampered my dream of finding personal freedom all the time.

Not so much this year when it comes down to it because I’m slowly building my stock in that world and I feel it can only go up from there.

Damn, does that feel good reaching a new level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and know it!

Promise No. 11: Building A Connecting Audience (Completed)

Momentum was finally on my side again on YouTube. Even though I’ve made up my mind that 2020 onward, I’m semi-retired due to the toxicity of a certain community and lack of time to put effort into videos nobody gives a shit about.

The world of Twitter (1031 followers) and Instagram (949) really blossomed in 2019.

Broke the internet a couple of times and slowly but surely, people are recognizing my presence.

While YouTube has been horrid this year due to multiple reasons that range from being an absolute dinosaur (my channel has been around since June 22, 2008) to others not caring about quality and well researched racing content (main exemption is S1apSh0es).

I may not be a part of that “community,” and it’s one of the reasons why I’m over YouTube after 2019. I’ll have one more video before calling it a day.

I’ll still upload some stuff I still got to finish working on then and there, but the effort of making my channel relevant is over. I got better priorities than wasting time making content nobody ultimately watches.

I could go into details of how irritating is it that the future revolves on certain people over those who have endured, scratched and clawed their way to being in the motorsports media side of things.

However, the big picture for me is finally having a reasonable audience that have seen my photos and stories. It all came naturally instead of forcing it.

Last year, I was really angry about not having an audience but now that I’m slowing having one, it’s a good feeling.

Just to be clear, I’m not changing who I am just because I’m growing because I don’t believe in “selling out” to make myself look superior over others.

People will give a damn over time if they see someone working their ass off and present themselves in a positive way without coming across as egotistical.

Promise No. 12: Pitch Memoir Project (On Hold)

Does this mean DAEL runs Texas? You be the judge.

I knew this was going to be a fairly unrealistic promise, but it was worth trying.

At the moment, I don’t have a definitive plan of making progress on my memoir. That is because I don’t know where to go to pitch the idea towards a publishing company.

Perhaps more significant to the promise being “on hold” is figuring out if I’m just focusing on the years I’ve written in my journal from December 31, 2017 to Present or focus on the highs and lows of my life, and how I’ve grown from each experience.

It takes a lot more time than I would’ve guessed, but once I have a clear vision, I’ll be ready to start getting my story out there and ultimately share to the world.

Promise No. 13: Securing A Home (Completed)

Sorry ladies, it seems that cats have caused allergic reactions. I can handle it for a few days, but long-term makes it hard to have one at home AND a sad deal breaker. Maybe a medication can cure that, but who really knows right now.

Six months into being a co-homeowner and it’s kicked my ass.

No sugarcoating because it’s made the financial game like a game of chess. One wrong move, then it’s long-term problems.

Fortunately, I don’t kid around with mortgage payments and I always assure to be ready for the next check close to the due date.

Welcome to adulthood, Luis. Learn to live it!

Promise No. 14: Knowing My Worth (Completed)

I’ve built a strong foundation this year and will continue to do so heading into the Double 20s and see where it’ll get me. I’m thrilled with my progress and the goal is simple, keep building on that momentum. (Photo: Niece Motorsports)

2019 was a year of building the foundation that I started in 2018, and I must say I’m digging the progress.

I’ve learned to respect the role I have and keep building it each time I’m writing a news story or actually at the track producing on-site content and capturing the action.

It’s that kind of mentality that I’m confident will lead to greater opportunities for me and Motorsports Tribune. I see 2020 being a turnaround year for the site.

I’m willing to bet myself to make the site I proudly represent flourish to exponential heights and I’m sure the remaining staff will definitely do the same.

They know my worth. I know mine. Things can really go up from here and it’s the kind of attitude I’m approaching because I believe in what I do for them out there.

This is the part of the journey that makes it fun and hopefully writing these blogs showcases why I’m driven to succeed.

While the 2010s is almost over, it’s time to usher the Double 20s where endless of opportunities is certain to occur.

This just leaves one last question.

Where there be a new “List of Promises” for 2020?

Stay tuned but until we meet again, doubt me if you insist, prove me wrong if I give consent.

Published by Luis Torres

I'm a graduate from the University of Idaho, currently pursuing the dream of becoming a motorsports media personnel.

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