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Oct 24, 2001

A Friend Sends A Message To Stuart Stratton, RIP

For Stu, wherever you are...<BR><BR>Hey Stu,<BR><BR>Sorry I didn't promptly return your call on 10/12, if I'd have known I wouldn't get to talk with you again you can bet I would have canceled that stupid business meeting. I was going to tell you when you got back from Daytona, but I guess you had to leave from there to another place. So I'll have to write you, here goes...<BR><BR>Some of our fellow racers have commented recently about my progress on the racetrack. They said I got a lot faster, asked where my new focus and talent came from, some who used to be way faster than me that I was now passing would come up to me and be sort of surprised but mostly glad for me, stuff like that. It made me feel good, but I lied and told them the reason was because the bike was so well set-up, and I was spending more time in the saddle. In fact, this is only partly true.<BR><BR>The real reason I wanted to improve so much was because you and I talked pretty seriously about mounting a team effort to go attack the AMA 750 SS campaign for 2002. I mean, we had the sponsor package together, were making calls for support, lined up a deal for the Arclight bikes, even took silly photos of each other for the package cover page! Once I got to know you,<BR>and we visited each others' homes, shared our ideas, goals and lives a bit, it was obvious to me that I wanted to taste the passion, skill, strength and honor that seemed to come so naturally to you, on track and off. I so badly wanted to team with you, and was so glad that you were willing to do so with me, that I wanted at all costs to avoid being an embarrassment to you when it came to my ability to ride. I mean, it sounds stupid in retrospect, but I admired your talent, tenacity, knowledge and hunger for the sport so much that I was afraid I would let you down if I didn't 'wick it up'.<BR><BR>How selfish and stupid I feel now. I know you would have accepted me for whatever ability, contribution and results I could muster. I should've figured that out right away, but now that you are gone from this world I want you to know the impact you had on my life and my racing pursuits.<BR><BR>I was honored to carry your checkered flag in your tribute lap at the Buttonwillow AFM season finale event on the Sunday following your tragic accident. I will always remember you, my friend, and the lesson you taught me. Always be true to yourself, give all you have in everything you do, and above all, say what you mean to those close to you before they are gone forever.<BR><BR>Stuart, you were not only a great racer, you were a great man. I love you, bro. I will see you again on the grandest of all podiums, and I will make sure to douse you with the champagne of the gods. You will always be number 1 in my heart.<BR><BR>Your friend forever,<BR>Kenan Rappuchi<BR>AFM/CCS #910<BR><BR><BR>