Patience, Grasshopper

Hi Pat,

Wow it’s been a busy couple of weeks. As a new officer on my local PCA board, my involvement in our Spring DE last week took on a whole new dimension. Driving took a backseat, and I spent most of my time working registration, troubleshooting all manner of little things, and making sure every participant was welcomed with the true Southern hospitality they have come to expect here. Doing so at Barber makes it sooooo easy. What a fantastic facility!

I did get to drive on Sunday. And I felt like I rather sucked. Overall I know from objective sources that I am improving. I’m maintaining smoothness and increasing speed. I needed much more 4th gear this time out than I ever have before at Barber. My 2nd gear slotting-in problem reappeared, but only once, until I remembered the micro-hesitation technique my buddy Paul showed me. Just a lot to remember in the corkscrew (Charlotte’s web, the Museum turn) at Barber.

Speaking of which, that is not the place one wants to have a lapse in concentration, otherwise known as a brain fart. Which I did on Sunday. The end result was just a seriously stupid line through there, and a “WTF?” from my instructor. And a rather shaken up driver, I have to say. It was immediately apparent the potential very high cost of a brain fart anywhere on Barber, most of all in that spot. Lesson learned.

Another thing: I seriously forget what proper threshhold braking feels like! I hate this. I don’t get out often enough as a passenger or driver to really get this ingrained, second nature. In fact, I drove home Sunday feeling seriously discouraged, all WTF am I doing this for? It’s humbling to suck, and something I am not generally accustomed to. I’m much more used to picking things up very quickly and excelling. This? Not so much. But that is seriously OK. I love a challenge. I love being nearly 50 years old and feeling the youthful excitement of doing something physically challenging and thrilling. I wasn’t born into this car stuff, didn’t spend my childhood around it, didn’t race karts, never did much beyond watch and drool for my first 45 years. But I’m here to tell you that old dogs can learn new tricks. I have the desire, and I firmly believe that with persistence and practice, I CAN DO THIS.

In the “Uh oh!” department, at pre-tech for this event, it was pronounced that my tires barely passed, and my wheels were declared “signed off for the last time.” Very long story there, but suffice it to say, my season has taken on a whole new look. I have a couple of autocross days coming up, but beyond that, I will be lucky to get anything else out of these tires. I have a line on a great deal for the wheels, but la cash flow, elle n’est pas supportif! My husband’s new venture is starting out very slowly, as in, he has been working since January with no pay. This was not ze plan, shall we say.

So we roll with it. Other than my AX school next Saturday, and maybe my first AX points competition the week after, my car is parked for the purposes of competition until further notice. I’ll have to forego driving the next club DE in June, but I’m OK with that. I have pre-paid to do a private track day at the end of April. Not sure if that date is even going to fill up as needed to pay for the track rental.

Meanwhile, I have been doing a little studying on tire pressures. Amazing the difference adjustments there can make! I had no clue. I mentioned something about reaping some reward from minor adjustments in an email to a certain race engineer (YOURS in the #45 car), and he actually put one of the guys in his shop to work on researching and coming up with a recommendation for me. I swear, I could not ask for better friends in this sport. For a newcomer like me, at least one who does not present any possible threat of competition, people are so kind and eager to help, it just blows my mind. So I have the incredible Flying Lizard #45 brain trust at work for me in this small way. I now have a new strategy and very specific instructions for handling tire pressures at my next AX event, and I cannot WAIT to try them out.

While I have no help to give in terms of cars and driving, there are other ways to help folks along. I have made a new friend of a newcomer to the club, and have made it my business to encourage him and do what I can to bring him into the fold. He is a fantastic guy, his car is GORGEOUS, and as I suspected he would be, he is a good driver! He signed up in DE1 and was signed off to drive solo by the end of the weekend. He made a few new friends, which I was tickled to see, and was absolutely over-the-moon exuberent in his appreciation of my attention. He passed me a couple of times on Sunday, and at my instructor’s suggestion, I gave him the super-special middle-finger point-by. HE LOVED IT and insisted I replicate it in this photo:

Looking back, it’s clear my hesitation to commit to a big season calendar of events comes from all the uncertainty I’m dealing with. So let’s own that: Contrary to prior pronouncements, I will not be posting a big, ambitious schedule of events after all! I’m just going to have to be patient, and see how things come together over the next few weeks and months.

There is certainly plenty of good racing to watch! I’m looking forward to Sebring next weekend! I realize lately if I am curious where you are and what you’re up to, there’s Twitter! I kind of hate all these “social networking” things, there are so many to keep up with, but I have to admit they are great for keeping up with friends.

Happy driving!


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