Hello all. I have quite a story to share. Let’s start at 12:30am Saturday night. The World Championship race was finished, the dinner banquet had ended, and I was packing my bags up in my room. I was disappointed in my 6th place finish, and my emotions were all over the place. Highs were making the final and running the whole race, low was my finish and second guessing my engine tune. High that the trip and the stress of the race was over, it was almost time to fly home. Low, the worry of travel and hoping everything was good at home. So around 1am I was finally packed and ready to go to bed.
3:30am…..ring, ring, ring….my alarm went off and it’s time to get up. Got showered up, brought all my bags downstairs and got all checked out. Of course, somehow we had 4 drinks on our bill from the bar, which we never had. Nothing like a good argument with an Italian guy at 4am. Joe just paid it so we could leave, Joe and I got in my rental car, Paul and Cody in their car, and we were off. Took about 45-50 minutes to get to the Catania airport, then we dropped off the cars and went into the airport. This is where the travel adventure stress started.
The line to check in seemed like it wrapped around the whole airport. Things seemed pretty disorganized and it wasn’t looking good, and all I wanted was to get home to my pregnant wife. We stuck out the line and finally got checked in, went through security and straight on the plane, as it was already boarding. I was pretty darn tired, so I closed my eyes, and next thing I knew we hit the ground in Rome, it being only a 1.5 hour flight or so. As soon as I got into the airport I got my wifi on and was checking to see how the family was. It was super early in the morning at home, so I wasn’t expecting Megan to be up. I texted that I landed and proceeded around the airport. I exchanged my leftover euros back to dollars, then grabbed some lunch. Soon after that I got a text that I wasn’t quite ready for….”honey, I think my water just broke, everyone is on there way to our house”. I had to be strong and positive for Megan. She was upset, “why now, why would it be so close to when you get home”. I was positive in my mind and was telling her everything is fine. I worked my way over to my gate a little early because I needed my boarding pass printed out. I get to the counter and see that my flight is delayed about 1.5 hours. I thought, oh shouldn’t be too big of a deal, normally I have pretty long layovers, and normally they can make up time in the air. I Get to the lady, ask for my ticket, she says, “sorry, but your going to miss your connection, we’ve rebooked you and here are your new tickets”. Rome to Philly, hotel booked in Philly, Philly to Charlotte, Charlotte to Kansas City. Original time of arrival 7pm 9/28, new arrival time, 1pm 9/29. My heart rate jumped up like I was in the Tour De France, and I pleaded with her to get me on something else. All I got was, “I’m sorry, but everything else is over sold, if you go standby, it’s not guaranteed, this is your best option”. By this time, Megan’s Dad was at out our house with Rosalynn, and Megan was at the hospital with her best friend. She was already upset, and I didn’t want to tell her what had just happened. I had been calm this whole time, even during the entire trip, I did not worry about missing the birth. This moment was the first time I thought, “why did I come here, I’m going to miss my son’s birth for a stupid race”. I had a small breakdown and could not keep the tears back now. I had no control and felt hopeless, my wife was scared and I was wanting to go home. I told Megan and she was just as shocked as I was. I needed to see if there were any other options, so I went back up to the counter. The lady was nice and said there is nothing she could do, but her supervisor would be there soon, and I could talk to her. I waited and then she arrived. I gave her my name and she said there isn’t much to do. “Can I fly into a different final destination? I just need to get close to Kansas City”. I told her my situation and she saw that I was desperate to get home. “There is a flight to St. Louis, and I think you could make it, do you want it”? That was my best option, I took it. New plan…..fly from Rome to Philly, 10 hours, get all through customs and hopefully make my new flight to St. Louis which leaves 2.5 hours after I am planned to be landing. Megan and I are texting before I board my plane in Rome. She is at the hospital, all checked in and being monitored. We had everything planned for this situation, her Dad is watching Rosalynn, her best friend is there for support and talking to me, her sister in law is there to video, and her Mom is there for support as well. The plan is in action and I’m stuck….I might have a new son when I turn my phone back on in 10 hours, or I might not. We say out goodbyes and I turn off my phone and get in my seat. Emotions were rough now, I couldn’t talk to anyone and all I had were my thoughts. One second I was mad…..mad at God for this situation, mad at myself for flying so far away for a race, knowing this could happen. I would cry because I was mad, then I would cry because I was scared. Is Megan doing good, is she scared, is our little boy ok, who’s the doctor on call, I was helpless. Next I would cry with pure joy. No matter what I did, I was going to be a new father, all signs said our little boy was healthy, and that thought would turn my face into Niagara Falls. The flight was interesting, I just tried to zone it out and not think too much. I was pretty tired, so I slept at first, but that was for only about 2-3 hours. I was waken from the “dinner” being served, I ate and then was wide awake again. I decided to watch some movies to try to pass the time, and that plan worked great. 3 and a half movies down and then I heard the Captain, “flight attendants, prepare the cabins for arrival”. I was so curious to see what text messages awaited me when I could turn on my phone.
As soon as the tires hit the tarmac, I turned on my phone. We were still on the runway and I was texting Megan, but I didn’t see she was typing back, so I decided to call. Her friend Shannon answered, but she was quiet, then after a short pause, “here’s Megan”. “I just had him” she says, and I could even hear him crying. Our little guy was born just two minutes before I called, he was on Mommy’s chest and I was able to talk to him and hear him. He was finally here and he was healthy! I was soooooooooo happy and excited, my sadness was all gone, and I didn’t even think about the fact that I missed his birth. Then Megan says, “do you want a picture of him”?
Next step was customs, getting my bags, then getting on that plane to STL. Customs line was pretty long, but I wasn’t worried. Got through everything and I just could not get that smile off my face, I was a new Daddy!!!! I even had some time to grab a quick dinner, then I was on my last plane. I was pretty tired, so I tried to sleep on my 2 hour flight, and I slept about half. I was now in Missouri, just about 4 hours from where I wanted to be. I got all my bags, then headed to the rental car area. Within an hour and a half from landing, I was in my rental car, on I70, and I was headed to the hospital. It was now 9pm on Sunday, and in the past 45 hours I had raced a 30 minute semi, 1 hour final, plus all the emotions of a World Championship final day, packed all my bags, had 13.5 hours if flying, all with about 6 hours of total sleep. Now I’m on the road, driving for 4 more hours in the night, and I’m TIRED!!!!
I make it all the way to St. Joseph Medical Center right on the state line of Missouri and Kansas, pulling in at 12:45am. I am very excited to get in and hold my son and hug my wife that I’ve missed for the past two weeks.
Holding him for that first time was amazing. His eyes were open and he was looking right at me, as to say, “hey Dad, what’s up”. The biggest weight I’ve held was off me, our son is here in our arms and healthy. This whole journey since Isabella has been a wild roller coaster. I will miss certain parts of the ride, we have some great memories from it, we have been forever changed by it, but I can say I’m happy to be off of it.
The next day I got to go get Rosalynn and tell her that her little brother was out of Mommy’s belly. She was very excited and couldn’t wait to meet him.
Today is October 2nd, I’m leaning on the edge of my bed, my little man Cole is right in front of me, and Mommy is in the background sleeping. What a wonderful day! All the stress, all the worry, all the pain of thinking what could, might happen, it was a waste. I am beyond thankful for my family! God, you blessed me beyond my wildest dreams! Being a racer is interesting, we are taught to never be satisfied. You win a race, now you must win another to prove that you deserved your other win. If you are satisfied with anything, accomplishments, equipment, driving ability, you will lose your edge. I was so mad that I finished 6th, but now, sitting here, does that really matter? Would my life be different if I finished 1st? For me, no, it really wouldn’t, I did my best, I have no regrets, I was a professional, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters. I am doing what doesn’t feel natural, and I am feeling complete satisfaction with my life today! Thank you to everyone who prays for me and my family, thanks to everyone that cares and supports me and my family. I deeply love you all.