Happy new year y’all (I live in the South, I’m allowed to use that phrase). I hope everyone had a safe and merry ringing in of 2023. I was watching the nailbiter of a college football game between Georgia and Ohio State and missed the official ball drop, but that’s ok. This last year was a bit of a roller coaster for me and I am just happy to have made it through and see it come to an end.

While many people make resolutions this time of year, I try to avoid them. Similar to diets, most new year resolutions fail after a few weeks. It is very difficult for people to make wholesale changes in their life and stick to it. Instead, I try to use the beginning of every new year reflection on the past and hope for what the future holds. I try to reflect on what went wrong, how it happened and kick around ways to change the outcome in the future. But also, I reflect on what went right and how to be more grateful for what I have in my life. I didn’t race as much as I would have liked, I did win two of the events I got to attend. Also, while nothing can ever take away the pain of losing my Dad in May and my dog a few months later in September, I still have a wonderful wife and child and have grown closer to my mom. So I am grateful for all of those things.

Another great part of the new year is the clean slate though. I haven’t lost a round this year yet. I can look back at last year and see all the times I messed up the finish line or was late and refocus myself for the upcoming season. Some people will reflect on giving up the finish line when they knew they had their guy crushed on the tree or a miscommunication at work that led to bigger issues. Whatever it is, take it a lesson and move forward. Figure out how to avoid that situation (or change it) in the future. I know the best way to avoid the first situation is being late on the tree. I’ve tried it, don’t recommend it, but certainly a way to avoid that situation.

The biggest thing for me about the clock striking midnight on December 31st though is the hope for the future. Whether it’s looking forward to a new race setup or just being excited to see your friends and family at the track again, it’s a good feeling. Although events don’t always work out as we planned, the faith that things will be better next time is critical. No matter how many times I lose a race, I maintain the faith that I am going to win the next one. It’s why I root for the underdogs if I’m not racing and why it was so exciting to see Bob Locke win the Super Gas championship this year. No one expected an older guy with zero previous national event wins to his name to win it all, but he did. It keeps the promise alive for me and so many that it could be us next year. Some might call this an unhealthy gambling addiction, but I prefer the term hopeful optimism.

For all of you reading this, thank you. I am grateful to have this outlet to share my thoughts and keep my father’s memory alive. I wish all of you good luck this year on the track and in all your life’s pursuits. Now let’s get back to the warmer weather and time at the race track. Cheers to seeing you all at some point this year. -Franklin DiBartolomeo