You may be wondering what the hell I’m doing here with this blog. Well for some odd reason, I think there are some things I am meant to learn from you. This may sound strange, coming from someone you’ve never met. I confess, I worry about coming off all stalker-y. Am I just another fan-freak whack-job? I’ve sent a few emails through your management, and I assume those get to you. But since you are literally all over the world, I have no clue if you have had the time or inclination to read them. So I wanted to put them…somewhere, other than my email out-box. They are, as you may have noticed, all about ME anyway! Whether or not you see them, they will be here for me, and for any one else who might be curious about my experience.
Fear not. Here’s what I am. I am a person who’s taken up motorsports in her late forties. Why did I wait so long? Because for most of my adult life, I was too large to fit into a sports car and buckle the seat belt. With the help of gastric bypass surgery, I changed that in 2005. With the help of a total life overhaul, I’ve managed to maintain that change.
I am a person who yearns to know how to drive. Really drive. My father’s family was in the automotive industry, and he instilled a deep love for and respect of driving in me from an early age. He was not what I would call a “car guy,” but he loved cars. I definitely got my love of driving from him. So once I could fit into a sports car, I looked into taking a race driving course at a race track. I live near Birmingham, Alabama, and the Porsche School at Barber was an ideal setting for this.
In the Spring of 2008, my father was in the hospital in Atlanta, gravely ill. On one of my long, sad drives between home and the hospital, I impulsively pulled off the interstate at the Leeds exit, and I sought balance for all the pain of that time in a thrilling ride-along at Barber. It was just what I needed. Sadly, my father died that May, and once the dust settled, there it was. Life is short. Time to drive.
Several hot lap rides later, I found myself looking at cars. Once I learned how affordable early cars were, I indulged my love of the Porsche marque. Following a series of strange events, both horrible and wonderful, I took the money I’d saved for the class, and I bought the car!
So I am the proud owner of a 1988 Porsche 911 coupe, Grand Prix White, now with 150K miles.
Meanwhile, I have joined PCA, NASA and SCCA. I’ve been working race events with NASA-SE to learn my way around the sport, and my spot on the Pit & Grid team has been the perfect place for me to get my head around cars, classes, track event protocol, flags, and radio communications – all while enjoying lots of VROOM. My husband just shakes his head, unsure what this is that’s taken me over, but enjoying the ride. The friends I have made along the way have become my biggest cheerleaders. Not that I needed one, but I feel like I’ve found a whole new family.
I am having the most incredible time making my way through the motorsports world from the very bottom up. And for reasons I cannot explain, I feel this connection to you. I have learned so much from watching your races, reading your articles and blogs, hearing your take on driving and racing.
I’ve taken you on as a silent mentor. This blog is my way of keeping you posted about my progress.
So here we go.
UPDATE March 2011
So much has happened since I started writing to you here. The notes tell the story. But for the purposes of introducing myself to new folks, I have driven lots of high performance driver’s ed events, several at Barber. I was sidelined most of last year due to, well, life, and car issues. But as of this month, I was finally checked off to be a solo driver at Barber. That was a big day for me, and now I’ve got my sites set on Road Atlanta!
Except I am really not comfortable driving the speeds possible at Road Atlanta in my stock car with stock belts, no roll cage, all that. If I get the itch to actually RACE, I’m tucking this sweet little car away, and finding another one that’s got racing seats, harnesses, roll bar, Hans, fire bottle, kill switch, tow hooks…all that good stuf! Not to mention the performance mods I’d love. Just not on my car. I want to keep this one stock. And I really don’t want to race a totally stock car on a race track.
I’m still not sure about the actual racing. But I love being on the inside of the fence at events, so for most of the races I attend, I find a way to be a worker, either on the track, or worker support, whatever. I love, love, love it. The funnest fun I think I’ve ever had was doing worker support for the 24 Hours of Daytona, shuttling workers back and forth to corner stations, and enjoying a rarely-seen perspective on things, like the inside of the “bus stop”. Awesome!
Once I’m a little further along, maybe once I have my race car, I am going to see about arranging some real life coaching with you at Barber. If you are ever in town, TWEET ME, or JB at PSDS has my # in his cell, yall call me and I’ll be there in a jiffy and maybe you can pilot me around that fantastic track a couple of times and show me what’s what. Everybody has a different take on it – I’d love to experience yours!
Thanks for all the great racing and great writing and great ambassadorship for sportscar racing. I know you understand when I sometimes root for my friends who compete against you…because, as you are fond of saying, THAT’S RACING!