What did you want to be when you grew up? Many of us changed or dreams time and time again with the passing years of youth.
My children, while only five and seven years old, have already changed their minds more times than the second hand changes position on a clock face. When I was growing up, the dreams of my future always centered on a career in the creative arts; switching between journalist, singer, or songwriter.
For one man from my hometown, the dream was always the same. The speed, the passion, the rush of being inches away from the outside wall as one of stock car racing’s legends was looking to the inside for that last lap pass. The scenario was always played out with the background music of a high octane race engines roar; and ended with the drop of a checkered flag.
Growing up, there was never a variance in the answer Matt Poole would give to the question, "What do you want to be?” Poole has always wanted to race.
“All kids have dreams. They see a police car, and they want to be a policeman. They see fire trucks; they want to be a fireman. The first time I saw a race car, I wanted to be a race car driver. What I would say to any kid, or even any adult, is if you have a dream, go after it, no matter how long it takes.
"Never give less than 100 percent to achieve that dream, no matter how old you are. If someone tells you "no", don't get discouraged, and don't give up,” Poole said, when asked about kids following the dreams of their own.
“A lot of people told me no, a lot of people told me my dream would never come true. I didn't give up. Every time I heard the word "no" it only gave me more determination. Don't EVER give up on your dreams, if you want something badly enough, if it's worth having, you have to be dedicated to making that dream a reality. Don't let anything stand in your way, no matter what obstacles you face in getting there.
"Because there is nothing more satisfying than that feeling of knowing you did it, against all odds. That's the feeling I had when I took that very first green flag at Hickory Motor Speedway. I kept telling myself 'I did it, I'm here.'"
Poole’s dreams have graced the local papers three times in as many years, having two articles in the Salisbury, MD based Daily Times and one in the Baltimore Sun ; but it isn’t the publicity that drives him.
“I don’t need the fame or fortune, I just want to race.” Poole has stated time and time again.
He strives to fulfill a dream, and to honor the two lost loved ones that never gave up on him. On his web site crossbowmotorsports.com you can view the stories that have graced the media, as well as Poole’s personal story of drive and determination.
It was the latter of these that caught this writer’s attention. Getting my chance to speak to Poole, I asked about his drive, his determination and his “challenge” to the racing world.
“Your passion for the sport is immense, driven by the memories of loved ones lost and fueled by the dream of success behind the wheel IF given your chance in one of NASCAR's premier series, will we continue to see the dedication to a race team that you have shown in getting this far?” I asked him.
And his answer was nothing less than a true mirror of the personality that drives his racing dream.
“Dedication to my racing dream is what kept me going even though so many people told me "NO" while trying to get to that first race at Hickory. I have never been more dedicated to anything in my life, because this is not just about "the chance to drive a race car", I have done that, and I have done it well.
“This is about honoring the memory of two of the greatest people in my life who I lost suddenly. I am not only dedicated to winning, but learning and absorbing as much knowledge as possible along the way to help me achieve that goal. The goal is to race, and the goal is to win.
"The dream will not be complete until I am in Victory Lane. And if I went to Victory Lane tomorrow, that would not be the end of my dedication. That would only give me more dedication to go back to Victory Lane. I want to win; it's as simple as that.”
Poole knows the deck is stacked against him. It’s a youthful sport. “It’s a matter of age and experience,” Poole will tell you, “I have too much of one, and not enough of the other.”
But he looks to the veterans of the sport and how they are comparing to the young rookies, “Mark Martin winning races at 50, it’s inspiring to me.”
But it all comes down to the dare to dream, the driven nature to fulfill a lifelong pursuit. And no one is as driven as Poole. “The challenge I have laid down is just that; a challenge to potential owners and sponsors. Owners want their cars in Victory Lane, and sponsors want to be on cars in Victory Lane. I am challenging them to go to Victory Lane with me.
"You will not find ANYONE at any age with more dedication to get that car to Victory Lane than me. So my challenge is 'do you want to win? Do you want your car in Victory Lane?' If the answer is yes, let me take it there...GO WITH ME to Victory Lane!”
With a heart of a lion and the memory of loved ones fueling his passion even further, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Poole sponsored and racing again soon.
For More information on Matt Poole visit his web site at http://www.crossbowmotorsports.com or http://www.chasingtheracingdream.com/ you can find him on Face Book by going to http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Matt-Poole-Racing/308156958645?ref=ts or follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/MPRacing .
Photo credit Crossbow Motorsports and Matt Poole Racing
(article also appears on Associated Content)