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Sam Posey's Jackie Stewart dream occurs over and over again and it is always the same. "The dream is in very bright color," says Posey. "He is driving his light blue Matra over on the right and I'm on the left, but I don't know what I'm driving. We are on a racetrack, not a specific one, and on both sides are fields filled with yellow flowers. We race and race and neither edges ahead of the other. The track gets more and more difficult and we both sink lower into our cockpits. And when I look over at him and he looks back at me, we are both very tired and we each despair of ever gaining any advantage on the other or of ever doing all the turns quite properly.
"It just gets more and more exhausting until finally I wake up and I'm absolutely drained.
"Actually, it's rather symbolic, because the problem of just driving your car as fast as you can, and then the problem of beating an opponent are the two struggles that are always present in motor racing."
When Sam Posey holds court, right hand on hip and left foot turned out, his cream-white driving suit looking for all the world like a Joshua Reynolds painting of some forgotten 18th century lord, and speaks in that peculiar manner known as New England Lockjaw, one cannot but hope that some day Posey will realize his lifetime ambition and win the world driving championship. If he does not, that will deprive the world of one super interview.
The fact that Posey wants so desperately to win the most important title in motor sports is not unusual, but his willingness to articulate his goals at the first sight of a ballpoint, as well as verbalize about all other aspects of his racing, is. Most drivers tend to give voice to such aspirations only in the dark privacy of their own minds, if at all. Even to dream of racing with Stewart brings shivers to the spine; to talk openly about following in the footsteps of Fangio, Clark and all the rest is simply not done.
Except Sam Posey does it, and has done it right from the beginning. This, plus the fact that he is a moderately wealthy young man, has given him, as they say in other industries, a high profile and a reputation somewhat beyond what his accomplishments on the racetrack might otherwise warrant. It has caused a certain amount of resentment among his peers, who sometimes feel that he exaggerates his talents and who consider his frequent monologues perhaps the sign of an inflated ego.
Occasionally in the past this worried Posey, but never for long. "I always felt justified," he says, "because I felt with such certainty that I would become a top driver. Just for once people would be getting in on the development of a driver instead of cashing in only after the driver's ability became obvious to everybody."
One strange side effect of all this is to make it seem that Posey has been around forever. He only began racing in 1965, shortly before his 21st birthday, and during that season and the following five he moved erratically through the various classifications—from Formula Vs to Formula Juniors to Formula A machines only slightly less sophisticated than the Formula I cars themselves, and from small-displacement sports cars to the five-liter Trans-American Pony cars to the unlimited-displacement Group Seven monsters of the Canadian-American Challenge Cup Series and the now-disbanded U.S. Road Racing Circuit. There were even forays with Indianapolis-type cars, both on oval tracks and on road courses.
He won occasionally—a Trans-Am in '69, two Formula As in '69 and one in '71, and several sports car events—but though he always seemed to run well and interestingly, he really did nothing to make people stand up and take notice. However, if he has not yet achieved that sudden leap to greatness (one thinks of Mario Andretti at Indianapolis in 1965 or Jochen Rindt in Europe in 1970, the year of his championship and death), his career has at least been proceeding apace. At 27 he can be safely placed among the top two dozen active road racers in the world, which is not bad company, and it is quite possible that before he is through he will join the handful of Americans—Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Mario Andretti and, back in 1921, Jimmy Murphy—ever to win a Grand Prix. Only Hill, of course, has won the world championship.
Posey has made his most lasting impression in the long-distance events of the Manufacturers' Cup Series, mostly with Ferraris of Luigi Chinetti's North American Racing Team, a Connecticut operation once removed from the main Ferrari factory effort in Modena. In races such as Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans, where the physical and mental attrition of the drivers is nearly as great as the mechanical attrition of the cars, it quickly became apparent that Posey could not only give his cars a solid ride, but was that rare driver who could actually add personality to a sway bar or describe an "incident" in such a way that you almost wanted to experience the carnage yourself.