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
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.
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
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.