Last Saturday night fans were treated to a first time winner, as Cody Gerhardt (No. 40) strolled into Rocky Mountain Raceways and picked up his first career USAC Western States Sprint Car Series feature win.
The 17-year old from Madera, California put on an intense battle with Johnny Giesler (No.12) in the final laps of the 50-lap affair in front of a huge crowd on hand to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday on the America First Credit Union Super Oval.
“I wanted to cry”, said Gerhardt, who was making just his fourth career start in the series.
That’s what I love about first time winners. It’s the fact that they are not afraid to show raw emotion after that initial win. I don’t care what divison or level of racing it may be in, there is nothing like breaking through and finding your way into victory lane.
And, yes, it’s okay for men to cry.
Jeff Gordon did after he won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race–the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1994. Jamie McMurray did when he won the 2010 Daytona 500. Steve Kinser (20-time World of Outlaws champion) did after his son, Kraig Kinser, won the Knoxville Nationals at the legendary Knoxville Raceway in Iowa.
From that first expression on their faces when they lift the helmet off, to their broken speech due to the emotion in their voices, first time winners are the best winners.
One final element of a first time winner is how they walk the next time you see them. They have the walk of pure confidence. Who can blame them? They accomplished something many have never been able to.
Russ Sala Jr.