Ask any mathematician and she can tell you her “Erdos number”, a digit Wikipedia says defines the “collaborative distance” between a person and mathematician Paul Erdos using published papers as the unit of measurement. (If you published a paper with someone who published a paper with Erdos your Erdos number would be 2 because you’re twice removed from him. Get it?) The lower the Erdos number the greater the mathematician’s “street cred”.
I’m not a math whiz by a long shot but do understand the allure of coming in some kind of close contact with one’s idols. So, it was a thrill yesterday when a gentleman who introduced himself as “Joe” stuck his head in my office for no other reason than to say he misses seeing me anchor the local evening news broadcast. That in and of itself was rewarding but when we got to talking he hinted at having worked for some of the largest names in racing: Carroll Shelby and Jack Roush, two of the industry’s most revered engineers, designers, and drivers. Upon prodding Joe even let slip that he’d had the opportunity to race for Shelby – just once but, it was once more than he’d ever dared imagine.
I’ve read and written quite a bit about Shelby and Roush and have come to admire their many accomplishments. There’s no chance to ever meet Mr. Shelby as he passed on in 2012 and, though Mr. Roush is still purring along the odds of my running into him are almost equally slim. Thanks to Joe, though, I’ve come closer than I ever would have imagined. Even though no one will understand when I say it you can bet I’ll be bragging that my Shelby-Roush number now sits at 2!