Racers' Disease!
by Jon Oswell

We have identified a new disease probably caused by a virus among race car owning people. It has been in existence for a considerable amount of time, but only recently has science identified this disease, and begun to study it. We call it Acquired Racing Obsessive Syndrome (AROS). At first, AROS was originally considered to be psychological in origin, but after two young researchers suddenly decided to become car drivers, we realized we were dealing with an infectious agent. Epidemiologists have identified three stages of this disease and its typical symptoms. Here are the stages and the symptoms, as we know them today.

You have early symptoms (stage 1) if:

1. You think a race within 300 miles is close by.

2. You begin to enjoy getting up at 5 a.m. to load the car and hook up the trailer.

3. It is fun to spend several hours a day repairing the race car.

4. You think you're being frugal if you spend less than $3000 a year on new parts.

5. You can't remember what it was like to own one torque wrench.

You definitely have the disease (stage 2) if:

1. When you look for a house, the first thing you check is how many cars you can fit in the garage.

2. Your racing fuel bill is bigger than your family's heating bill.

3. You spend as much on mechanics as family doctors.

4. You have no money because of racing cars.

5. You have to buy more than one truck a year, because you keep burning out the 7 year, 70,000 mile warranty going to races.

6. You have more pictures of your cars than of your family.

7. Your idea of a fun vacation is to hit a National circuit.

8. Most of your conversations revolve around the cars.

You are a terminal case (stage 3) if:

1. You wake up in the morning and find out you put the kids in the garage and the fire suit, helmet, and gloves into the beds last night.

2. You know each car's number and points position, but can't figure out who that stranger in the house is, and it turns out to be your spouse.

3. You keep telling the kids to pass the tools, and wonder why they won't, and why they keep objecting to the crew member labels on their school clothes.

4. You cash in the kid's college fund to campaign the race car.

5. You've been on the road so long you can't remember where you live.

6. Your family tells you, "It's either the race car or us!" and you choose the car.

Do you have this dreaded disease? Well, there is some hope. In the course of our research, we have found most cases seem to stop at stage 2, and remain chronic. We have with great difficulty, managed to acquire several stage 3 AROS patients. They are currently in our isolation wards where we are studying them to gain a better understanding of this disease. It is a sad sight, seeing these formerly vibrant people as they shuffle back and forth in their rooms in an repetitive motion of accelerating from wall to wall, only to turn, stage, and launch again, all the time making revving and screeching noises in an effort to coax passers-by into a match race. Merely saying the word "Nationals" can send them into an uncontrollable frenzy. Unfortunately, there isn't much hope for these cases, but with time and research, we hope to further understand this disease and come up with a cure. We are now attempting to isolate the causative agent, and may be able to develop a vaccine in the future.

An interesting sidelight of this disease seems to be that exposure at an early age has an infectious effect. Several people with AROS at stage 1 have close family who show signs of the disease (children in the Jr. Drag Racing League and wives or girlfriends in D.R.A.W.) It is thought by some of our researchers that this may be due to environmental effects, to an age-related immune function, or may be due to an affection-related syndrome. The people with AROS at stage 2 and 3 have close family members that show no signs of the disease, and are thought to be immune. This is possibly due to the memory deficit induced by the disease. In laymen's terms, the afflicted don't even remember that they have close family members or functions – they only remember their crewmembers and race schedules.

What can be done to prevent this disease? Until a cure is found, prevention is the best measure. Avoid tracks advertising chassis certifications -- it may be the cars carrying the disease. Leave town on the days the Drag Review or National Dragster are delivered in the mail. If you inadvertently come into contact with an AROS afflicted person, take a shower -- preferably with "Fast Orange" soap. If you are living with one, take comfort in the fact that if you haven't succumbed yet, you probably are safe. If you have to, take two "whiffs" of "Nitro" and call us in the morning.

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