Part 3: Epiphany at Oak Tree, Lessons from the Right Seat & A Lie Exposed

Today as I went for my walk, in the starlit early day-darkness of an unexpectedly balmy autumn morning, it dawned on me. The title of my website is a lie.

While it is true that I am FastDriverMom, and it’s true that I am a mom and a driver, calling my driving “fast” would be a laughable stretch of the imagination. Let’s just get one thing clear: “WannabeFastDriverMom” would be a far more appropriate term. But I think I can’t change the URL of the website at this point without spending some serious cash ($20). So, all you REAL fast drivers out there can finally exhale, and feel free to snort out loud with laughter if you wish. Yeah…Well…so what? Let an old lady die happy OK?


In all seriousness though, owning up to my partial truth is, in fact, important for me to grow and learn. It’s something that carries the bitter sting of ineptitude, and thus brings a charge to get my  (and my car’s) rear in gear!  Having attended Catholic schools (complete with uniforms, nuns, etc), the words “Lesson” and “Epiphany” carry sobering meanings that indicate incremental growth with a tinge of chastisement, and a moment of triumph in clarity of understanding, respectively.  I say this as if I have some mental maturity about my path, but in truth, all I really want is to go FAST FAST FAST.

1. Speed is my friend: This past track day, I finally was able to understand what amount of speed I could handle consistently at the hairpin turn Oak Tree, and also at Turn 1. Up til this time, I had been able to (after a day or so of practice) consistently handle these turns with an OK technique.  However, understanding how to to carry speed going into the turn was a new experience–just doing it was not helping me to prepare for it adequately. It made a difference for me to understand. All the words of my instructors combined finally just “clicked” and I could see why over-braking was working against me. I found myself taking a risk and easing off the pedal in my solo runs Sunday afternoon.

2. Epiphany emerged, as scheduled, Sunday morning.  Over a cup of chicken corn chowder, in the comfort of a climate controlled RV, Yoda, 007, and I discussed Oak Tree. Yoda described his own practice in BeachBoy Boxster:

cropped-10366163_10203891712751843_7400374643415372804_n.jpg “I just do a single down-shift, after turn 11, going from 4th to 2nd. Hey, why don’t you try that?”

3. Add lightness: In deep gratitude to Monsieur Le Mans, I was signed off to drive solo on Sunday.  Minus the passenger, plus the confidence boost and consistency, I was able to move FASTER and with less effort going into the esses, the back and front straights (old news from old post…still not FAST but faster)!IMG_0106 (2)

4. Lessons from the Right Seat: MikeJim, the instructor of a friend (Chef B), was kind enough to take me out on track on the last day. My other two instructors (Mr. Le M. and Yoda) had no passenger seats in their track cars, so I had expected to have no instructor ride all weekend.

May I just say something? Ok you might not believe it, but there are still people alive who remember FastDriverMom as a teen-age girl: giggly and excitable and young. She exists buried deep in there somewhere between the gallbladder and the right adrenal gland. Dormant, almost dead. Yet, under certain circumstances she awakens.  “Such as when?” you ask.

Here’s a good example of when she springs to life: I’m standing around minding my own business in the North Paddock. A very, very, VERY hot looking car drives up and stops near me. The driver, wearing a helmet, leans over, looks out the window, and says to me “Wanna go for a ride?”

So, let’s just say MikeJim had sorted me out. Thanks man! I learned a lot from your approach to Turn 1, and your ability to to carry all the momentum from the front straight in through to Turn 4. And you have a gift for sound bites. But you already knew that. “Brakes are your enemy.”

Next Nefarious Plan:

With deepest gratitude to my beloved husband, Big T and the THREE sweetest angelic children to ever have walked upon this Earth, I’m going to go driving again this Saturday…Yeah baby!!

I won’t forget your words Mr. Le Mans “Go for a nice clean arc in your turn”….nor will I forget yours Yoda “Gas, gas, gas, keep it going, yes! Gas, gas, gas…Now brake!”  You both are great teachers, and I want to thank you for what you have given me this past track day. Plus, you put your life in the hands of a woman dressed like a bumble bee!!! Bravery indeed.

YodaShorty (Here is, as promised, a photo of Yoda avec visage. You happy now?)

Green Frog, Kivinski, Tex and, of course, my wise and debonair mentor 007 will all be at the sacred grounds. The high temperatures will be 45 F. Yours truly, instigator extraordinaire, has cooked up some scheme for cost sharing on renting a track garage. So our snot won’t freeze after all.

Come Saturday morning, I will have to take courage in my hands, carry speed into the corner, and let Bianca’s well endowed hips drift in the hair pin turns. It’s what she was made for, after all.

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