Monday, February 17, 2014

My Mentor

Most people have that one person outside of their family that they admire – whether it’s a friend, teacher, or someone else that they’re close to.  I never had that specific person in my life until a few years ago, but it has become evident within the past couple of months who that person is. 

I distinctly remember a conversation I had with a fellow fan in December of 2010; she told me that you never know when someone in NASCAR or a reporter was reading my blog.  I shrugged it off, because to me, it was just a little blog and no one that had any authority in the NASCAR world would ever read it – keep in mind I had just started the blog so I was working on my confidence.

Let’s fast-forward to July 4, 2011; I was in my room on my laptop working on blog ideas when my phone beeped.  1 unread e-mail.  I looked at the message and sprinted downstairs.  Now if you know me well enough, you know Ashley and athletics are not friends, so my mom knew something was up.  I couldn’t even get the words out of my mouth; I just shoved my phone in my mom’s face.  I’m pretty sure she was as shocked as I was.  It was an e-mail from none other than Race Hub’s own, Steve Byrnes, saying that he admired my ambition and desire.  One thing led to another and at the end of August, I found my sixteen-year-old self at the SPEED Studio in Charlotte, completely awestruck and very nervous.  I was able to sit in on a taping of Race Hub and then interviewed Steve afterwards.  Let’s again fast-forward, but this time to August 2012.  A seventeen-year-old Ashley once again found herself at the SPEED Studio, this time not nervous at all.  I spent the entire day following Steve around; I went to the production meeting, hung out in Steve’s office and watched the Olympics while he did voice-overs, I watched an interview with Brendan Gaughan, played fashion consultant, and then sat-in on an interview with Ron Fellows, amongst many other things.  That was very easily one of the best days I’ve ever had.

When I heard the news that Steve was diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t really believe it at first, it’s just one of those things that doesn’t sink in.  I’ve seen way too many people affected by this disease.  I knew there was nothing I could do, so I prayed…a lot, because that was the only thing I could do.  I’d check Twitter and Facebook on a regular basis hoping for an update to be posted, which there usually was every couple of days – always positive.  When it was announced that he would be back at Daytona, I remember having a smile on my face for the rest of the day; my prayers were answered.

I guess the whole point of this little musing is just my way of saying thank you.  Thank you, Steve, for being an inspiration to everyone, myself included, and thank you for giving me the greatest advice I’ve ever received, “Keep writing from your heart and people will identify with you.”  I still have never been to an IKEA, which means I haven’t had the Swedish meatballs, but I promise I'll get there eventually.

An absolutely amazing article was written by Marty Smith, click here.

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