If you are a contractor and you haven’t faced adversity, then you must have just gone into business yesterday. Facing difficult issues, changes, and challenging decisions is all part of being a contractor. It is wise to prepare yourself to take on tough times and difficult issues so that you are not shocked when they are knocking at your door.
A perfect example of how an individual faced difficult and challenging times, worked through them, and accomplished a lifetime goal recently made the front pages. As some of you know, I have been an Indianapolis 500 fan for 74 years. This story revolves around an Indy Car driver, Helio Castroneves. Helio first arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2001. That year, he promptly won as a rookie. The following year he won again, becoming the first back-to-back winner since Al Unser, Sr. in 1970 and 1971. At his young age, Helio was probably envisioning that the record of four wins, held by A.J. Foyt, Unser, Sr. and Rick Mears, should be easy to surpass.
Over the next six years, from 2002 through 2008, Helio managed five top 10 finishes but never ended in first. Then in 2009, he accomplished his third win — and I am sure assumed that No. 4 (and maybe No. 5 and No. 6) would be close behind. All of this time, Helio was one of the biggest crowd favorites and one of the most fun and exciting drivers to watch both on and off the track. Naturally, all of his fans were rooting for him to join the exclusive four-time-winners club.
No one was trying harder than Helio. And he came extremely close, with two second place finishes in 2014 and 2017. Those second place finishes were agonizingly close. Nevertheless, he continued pursuing his dream. Then after 2017, things seemed to turn the wrong way. He had finishes of 27th, 18th, and 11th. Since the time he came to the Indianapolis Speedway, he had been driving for the incomparable Roger Penske. Penske only accepts perfection in everything he does. (Note: If you are not aware, in January of 2020, Penske bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a move which will ensure its legacy for years in the future.) Therefore, following the 2019 season, Helio lost his full time Indy Car ride with Penske and was moved into the sports car program. Not exactly what Helio wanted, but it did include a ride in the 2020 Indy 500, which resulted in only an 11th place finish.
When Penske closed his sports car operation at the end of the 2020 season and put Helio out to pasture, it appeared that the popular champion’s driving days were over. This is when perseverance and determination took over. Helio was facing the worst of adversity for an Indy Car driver and Indy 500 champion — an Indy 500 without a ride.
But he was not to be denied. He went to work seeking sponsorships and a willing car owner in hopes of having at least one more chance at winning that fourth 500. He found a sponsor in Sirius XM and a willing car owner in relatively new Mike Shank Racing. Together they assembled a team.
They were a small team up against three “New England Patriot” type teams in Penske, Ganassi Racing, and Andretti Autosports. At the end of the day and 500 miles on May 30, it was Helio Castroneves who crossed the yard of bricks first. His fans were able to celebrate as he climbed the outer fence for the fourth time, and then, surprisingly, ran and jogged a half a mile up the main straightway and back in one of the most joyous celebrations ever seen at the famous Speedway. His joy was obvious fulfillment of overcoming years of adversity and 12 full years after his third win, finally accomplishing that fourth victory.
There is a message there that we all should take to heart. No matter how difficult things may seem and may even last over a period of years, if you continue to work hard, and stick to it, it is possible to come back out on top.