Humbled

Hi Pat,

Well the weekend was absolutely fantastic. I love everything about motorsports, the sounds and smells, all the different cars. Will I ever not get that little thrill when I approach the track and see it all festooned in flags, campers and tents everywhere, the paddock brimming with cars and trailers and drivers? Even after a year of working and driving these events, I get chills when I get my first glimpse.

The three clubs I’m active in have all brought me countless new friendships. But this club was my first, and they have become like family to me. I got so much support and encouragement from every one of them through the weekend, it was totally awesome. Even the “hazing” for my first time out as a worker-turned-driver. While it took some explaining to my instructor (in particular, the maniacal waving coming from my buddy at the black flag station that one time!), all the joking and ribbing just added to the fun for me. I love a good joke, and there were jokes a-plenty, from the black flag antics to the grid workers all running over and falling on their knees in front of my car the first time I pulled onto the grid – with our unofficial Pope Gridmonkey giving me his special blessing. Hee!

I had four twenty-minute track sessions scheduled for each day. Saturday, I was a bit rattled by all the traffic in the afternoon sessions, and I missed the last one thanks to that ride-along that made me so car-sick. Sunday, I was fresh and ready to go. From the moment I set my wheels on the track, I was after it in a very different way. I guess it took me all of Saturday to get my head back into it. Not surprising, really. I’m somewhat disappointed at how little I retained from my previous work on basics like braking and steering. I felt like I was totally starting over. And that was so, so humbling. I’m used to being the quick one in the class! The shining star! But here, I’m at the back of the class. Again.

Still, I had never really had to deal with traffic as challenging as what I encountered this weekend, and I learned so, so much from that. While it rattled me on Saturday, I was ready on Sunday. I gave point-bys on the straights, but did so while maintaining my driving line much more confidently. On Saturday, I hated knowing I was holding some of the cars up when I couldn’t let them all by, and I really let that distract me. But there’s no time for that shit! Sunday? Tough luck, my friends. You’ll have to wait, I’m braking and taking this turn and you’ll get around me on the next straight. When I did end up off-line in some of the passing zones, I quickly worked my way back in. A couple of my friends lapped me more than once. But I got great feedback on Sunday from many of them who noticed that I was handling things very differently than I had on Saturday.

My instructor was so great. He just rolled with it. He was clearly not expecting such a beginnery beginner! He told me he got carsick as a passenger, and that was his biggest challenge when he wanted to get into instructing. However, I did not go fast enough or get my car rolling enough to affect him in the slightest. Therefore, I told him that my new goal was to make him carsick! He even promised to ride with me every now and again to guage my progress toward that goal. He was brutally honest in his evaluation at the end of the weekend, which I appreciate in the extreme. He was not the slightest bit unkind. His attention to each of the evaluation elements was a real gift to me, as was the time and care he took in going over every bit of it with me.

Hopefully I will get out to my SCCA club’s autocross this Sunday. And I signed up today for another DE weekend with PCA for June 20-21. I wish I could get out every week! But I’m going to aim for monthly, which will beat the hell out of what I’ve managed so far. I am confident that I can be a decent driver. It’s not coming easy, but nothing worthwhile does, does it? And I’m having so, so much fun along the way.

I will get there.

Bye for now,
VroomGrrl

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