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Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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"Unquenchable curiosity" and "feverishly inventive imagination" are phrases that have been used to describe people who adhere to the renaissance ideal:

Having a profound knowledge, proficiency, and/or expertise in several fields of study, which include science, philosophy, thought, history, culture, language, various arts, crafts, and physical disciplines.

The technical term is polymath (although the word doesn't specifically relate to math, having understanding of and the ability to apply math effectively are important parts of being a polymath). However, simply having a broad interest range and topical, general knowledge isn't the same thing. Being a polymath, or a renaissance person, requires a level of mastery generally reserved for people who specialize.

Leonardo da Vinci is a prime example of a polymath, however, there have been many, many throughout the ages.

It's my personal opinion that, in order to be a successful automotive enthusiast, one must be a polymath, as the subject requires expertise in so many different disciplines to truly master the hobby.

A high level of race driving proficiency, craft skills, technical skills, knowledge, artistry, critical thinking, design, and problem solving are all of vital importance if a person is to truly appreciate, engage with, and immerse oneself into something as complex as a car. Because of the need for that level of development, I think that it becomes critical that the automotive hobby not be a focus, but rather an offshoot of a greater interest in self-development and understanding of the world.

There are a number of definitions of the word "appreciation," but there is only one that speaks to the concept of having a thorough appreciation, rather than just enjoying something. In the New Oxford American Dictionary it states:

"A full understanding of a situation."

If that is the case, without having a deep understanding of the personal, human, natural, and scientific principles an automobile — and the idea of it — is based on, how can you truly appreciate it, much less master it?


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