It’s October 1st, you know what that means?
My annual blog where I look back at the past year before turning a new age number the next day!
The last time I wrote a blog was days before the lowest point of my life was about to begin. Rather than earning a true living in racing media, I had to earn money elsewhere. Even if it meant working in brutal, cold conditions and at times dealing with hostile folks.
That’ll never be fun and forever will be a drag working in such environment. In an ideal world, I’d be traveling on a weekly basis doing what I love. I only get to do it sporadically.
Four months removed from covering my first Indianapolis 500 in person (I will write about my experience soon). Even a week after covering my third INDYCAR finale at Long Beach, I want to reflect on being 26.
How did those two events help me realize a few things?
At this time last year, I was (and at times can still be) extremely angry and bitter. I tend to feel that way since graduating from Idaho in 2016.
Even before going to Indianapolis in May and Long Beach last week, I came into it with the wrong frame of mind.
Why I’m not doing XYZ? Why I’m stuck in freelance hell? How come I’m not fully recognized?
Above everything else, money being the end-all-be-all of a successful weekend.
I won’t go into that bit here because it’s no one’s business to know how much I’ve made in my motorsports media career. Maybe someday I’ll open up, but not in the foreseeable future.
The big picture is that it created immense frustrations where it caused some friction with people. Such toxicity overshadowed some solid on-site weekends when it really shouldn’t have.
Twice this year (Darlington and Evergreen), I felt disenfranchised.
I wasn’t happy with my performance and was mad at several people. Those events had me thinking, why the hell am I wasting my time doing this shit?
Evergreen in particular. I sucked and it’s okay. At the time, I wasn’t happy about anything. Didn’t help that I only had three hours of sleep in a span of 60 hours.
Also, I didn’t get a good impression of people with my craft either. Very few did, which I’ll forever appreciate, but others weren’t too fond of my presence.
This discouragement took me back to 2018 when I created a high school football highlight reel.
My once hometown made me feel unwelcomed. Even people I thought were friends ignored me, cut and dry. Haven’t been back since then for that very reason. At the moment, I don’t even know if I’ll even attend my high school reunion in two years time. Time will tell though, but back to the big picture.
Those baggage I’ve endured this year with money being the focal point wasn’t healthy. It’s probably why I wasn’t happy.
Even a few days before Long Beach, I had to go through that tenacious rope.
Moral lesson? It’s not a life or death game.
This is the tough love I needed and willing to accept. Last year? Not so much. But now? I can allow it because it fuels me.
Additionally, there’s some positive things to look at outside of the racing world.
When I arrived back from Indy and Sonoma, I just looked awful overall. Photos of me made me cringe because of how bloated I was. What had to be done?
Diet on weekdays and fortunately, it’s worked. Losing over 30 pounds since June is a neat victory.
I feel much healthier. Perhaps is why I don’t have lower back pains anymore, which I did for over a year. I really don’t mind how my eating habits have changed. To the point I get frustrated not having a proper diet meal on weekdays.
How can I forget this moment? After 10 years of hell, I’m a driver. Portland was my first road trip and somehow survived the SoCal highways.
No more Uber/Lyft spending. No more having to be scorned for a lack of driver’s license.
I genuinely feel free for the first time ever. The only missing piece is a ring, but I’m not diving into that love crap right now.
All of this made me face the music. Rather than being angry and worried about everything like I’m playing in the Super Bowl, I just go into those races — Nashville and Portland as well — with this frame of mind.
BUSINESS AS USUAL
My kind of BUSINESS AS USUAL is getting better in my craft, providing solid stories and the old comment etched into my brain for ages.
At the end of the day, as long as I’m enjoying what I do and not let things eat me up, it’ll be okay.
Eventually, and I still stand by it, my evolution of works will pay off. I mean, it already has since 2022 is expected to be my fifth year involved in racing media.
On the INDYCAR side, both statements really helped me be at peace with the world. Even if it’s for a weekend, I can actually be myself. Not having to worry about a damn thing about people I don’t like, feeling bitter about life. Instead, it’s all abut growth and doing my thing on-site.
For some reason, I thrive more covering INDYCAR. There’s more creativity in my content and at times feel like I can actually learn from others. There’s some sort of mutual respect and common courtesy.
I really wish I can say that about NASCAR, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Need to get out of that cynical, introvert bubble to make it happen. Hope Phoenix in five weeks time works out to where I can get that joy I get from an INDYCAR weekend. That’ll be ideal.
If not, just treating it as usual business and have fun will do. Hope by the time I turn 28 in 2022, I can say I thrive covering everything!
As I begin my next chapter as a 27-year-old, I may not be 100% happy right now. But the biggest takeaway that I’ve enjoyed every moment when it happens.
The tough love I get makes me think, not shut the door to avoid the pain. I’ve gotten to do some incredible things.
Whether it’s capturing an incredible photo of Colton Herta three-wheeling it in Nashville or catching up with people I haven’t seen since the pandemic, I’m at peace.
Like there’s some sense of normalcy I haven’t fully had since my junior year of college.
Of course, covering the 105th Indy 500 is the highlight of Age 26. It was everything I envisioned and hope to get the full course meal in 2022. I got the awesome appetizer (partial crowd and activities), but the meal will be even greater (think 2016-19 Indy 500s).
From there, I was motivated AF. The other three INDYCAR races I covered had gains than detriments. Felt great and hope to continue the momentum for a real long time.
What an incredible year for the sport that continues to thrive. We’ve seen the young guns take control over the established veterans. We saw a man join the ultimate club of four-time Indy 500 champions. We even witnessed a career renaissance in the making. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
It’s always a pleasure covering those races, especially this year. There’s so many people to thank, but this entry is already long enough.
You know who you are, if you actually read this blog!
Here’s to being 27 and hope it’s the ultimate age for my career to really blossom. I’m at least joyful when things happen in the moment. Not let shit that’s out of my control define me.
Until we meet again (hopefully at St. Pete or Texas for INDYCAR), I’ll wrap it up with my annual self-letter to cap off being a 26-year-old.
Dear 26 Year Old Luis,
Compared to the hell that was 2020, you’ve done good for the most part.
Yes, you hate working at a dead end job on a nightly basis. Yes, paying bills will suck harder! But think of the big picture right now! I must say, you’ve made progress!
Not only you’re finally a driver, you’re polishing your career craft. Sure, it may not be much but you’re in a better spot.
Few can say that covered BOTH the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 in the same year. Especially, in this ongoing pandemic, that’s a huge win.
There’s still a lot that could be better. Finding “the one” is taking longer than you’d like, but who cares about both right now.
Accept the fact you’ve done some incredible things at Age 26. No matter how big or small, those victories matter.
Embracing the small victories isn’t easy for you, but you’re getting there.
I know you’re doing your hardest to continue this journey. Some people see that even if you deny, downplay or just don’t take the time to know it. Try to be better about it because they’re there for you!
Even if it’s tough love, you need it. Already have dealt with tough love and it’ll continue for many years to come.
Now that you’re entering the age of infamy, be lucky you’re not a musical icon. Just saying. Anyways, it’ll be the toughest year yet.
Hopefully, you can manage and stay strong. Who knows, you’ll finally make a living in what you do in some capacity.
As you always say, time will tell.
For now, enjoy the weekend and BELIEVE the Mariners will whoop the Angels overrated ass and make the damn playoffs!
It will be their year!
PS: This song should keep you moving forward!