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Season Three: a work in progress

Sara Lobkovich
Sara Lobkovich
4 min read
Season Three: a work in progress
Chris and I, at work, on hot pit during the MotoAmerica Road Atlanta Round. Photograph by (the amazing) Brian J. Nelson. 

As much as it pains me, I may move this newsletter back to Substack with a new purpose: as my brands grow, I crave a place where I can be just me, in all my rough draft stream of consciousness. For now here, perhaps once I regain access to my abandoned Substack account, there, unless my conscience intervenes. Ugh.

May 27, 2023: Ridge Motorsports Park, Shelton, WA

We're here for four days of local customer work (and relaxing) in between the Barber (Alabama) and Road America (Wisconsin) MotoAmerica rounds. It's strange to be at the racetrack without a job, but at the end of my second day here I've remembered just how much I love this and just how much medicine this place is when I'm not "on duty." It has let me slow down enough to just be ... and to untangle the mess of thoughts my brain has been working through.

I struggle hard with impostery feelings in the motorsports arena since I didn’t come into the sport by “coming up” in the sport, and because I’ve never been nor will ever be a “fast guy.” And despite those truths, this is my third year as a team co-owner, and my first season finding my way in a new role: Superbike Team Principal.

In my first season, I learned the basics of MotoAmerica -ing.

In my second season, I learned how to respect a chain of command, when to keep my mouth shut, and how to labor as a member of a motorsports crew.

And in my third season, I’m unlearning keeping my mouth shut when I see something that deviates from our standards. I’ve located my backbone. And I predict I’m about to learn to use it in new and interesting ways.

We’ve had enough reps together that I’m becoming more attuned to what’s “normal” and what’s noteworthy enough to speak up about, whether it’s our bike, our rhythms of working, or our ops and procedures.

It took a certain amount of chutzpah, and an independent streak to act as Teflon for all the "you can'ts" for us to start our team, but one of the phrases I often repeat to the leaders I coach and train rings in my ears this season:

"What got you here won't get you there."

We're spending more time working with mentors and coaches who are years ahead of us at this game: people whose names I heard spoken with reverence around the paddock and the industry, whose podcasts and media I've listened to for years; and who I used to watch on TV during my racing fan days. I'm figuring out who can help me unscramble the omelette that is my brain by the end of a race weekend, so that I go into each round with a plan for what I'll practice doing better / faster / more smoothly. And I'm wildly humbled by who picks up the phone and is able to do the dance of support, coaching, and advice that helps me consolidate my learnings and pick myself up out of the frustration and exhaustion to pack my suitcase and get on another plane for another round.

I think part of what surprises me the most is that I’m no longer just doing the jobs that I expected I'd be doing. I knew I'd handle our comms and sponsor relationships, and I knew the human care tasks like feeding the team, maintaining our paddock infrastructure and supplies, and our travel operations would fall to me. But those jobs keep me somewhat isolated from the actual racing. They keep me in a mode of always being out of temporal sync with the team, and challenge my ability to be present in the current moment, since I’m always planning a round ahead or trying to figure out how to make what happened last week look good on the internet, when my team is either 100% focused on the present job to be done when we're in the paddock or has their eyes turned toward readiness for the next round.

Increasingly, we're working to supplement my capacity so that those jobs can be shared with others, and when I take a moment to write these things down I can't help but notice how much my career in racing presents me a choice: to incrementally learn the trade I'm now a participant in while prioritizing the needs and aspirations of others; or, to figure out why I wake up every morning and choose this life and do the hard and scary work of growth and evolution myself.

For the first time, I'm taking inventory of my own aspirations and potential in the sport, instead of leaving my "self" at the entry gate in favor of the needs, aspirations, and potential of our riders and our team. And because of my wiring and conditioning and life experiences, that triggers a blend of nervousness and excitedness that I recognize from seeing it in my coaching clients. That blend of being nervous and excited tends to accompany peak experiences, phases of transformation or evolution, and profound growth and learning.

And this weekend I'm feeling my brow unfurrow, and I've noticed my smile coming naturally to my face again. My laughter feels lighter. Team ownership is never not stressful, but I sometimes forget that this is fun. And it's a gift to get a chance to remember that, even a little bit, this weekend.

I hope that you're finding some rest, recovery, laughter and your smile, this long weekend, as well.

- Sara.