Four days in November 2014 at Virginia International Raceway. With much gratitude to the FDM pit crew, fan club, and paparazzi, here’s the scoop! Complete with exclusive photos. Special thanks to coaches 007, Mr. Le Mans, Vader, and RedStrap who, amazingly enough, put their lives on the line and to MikeJim for providing wisdom on how to stay strong when the spirit wavers. My deepest gratitude to my one and only true love: BigT (along with the little T’s Cufflinks, HairGel and StrummingDiva).
And obviously, most of all, thanks to co-conspirator, childhood friend, intellectual muse, moral compass, and visual guide: Kivinsker for her brilliant photography, over-all good spiritedness, and saintly patience. Additional outstanding pics from AWOL photo. Having returned from the feast of giving thanks, I bring you my final track installment of the year.
Something about arriving at track combines the anticipation of ebullient, irrational, joyful thrilling victory and mixes it in with the queasy, irrational fear of humiliation by crumpling defeat. No one leaves with a trophy. I don’t even want a trophy. All I want is to improve!
Yet, this uneasy feeling is there every single time. It is because I know I will leave disappointed. Despite the pleasure of satisfying the visceral craving to drive on track. It’s because I am still WANNABE FastDriverMom. Precisely because growth in my competence matters so much to me, I know at this stage in my skill I cannot meet those expectations. The expectations of an 8 year old who has waited 39 years.
It matters. Very much.
You know, that rare moment in your morning rush of getting kids, bags, lunches, shoes, adults, keys, jackets, phones, lunch money, permission slips…and you accidentally look up and see your face in a mirror (grimacing, tired, stressed, whatever).
You look in your own eyes. You think: “What have I become?”
To me, seeing myself at track….How I perform, how much I’ve learned, how much I can apply, how far can I trust my skills…It’s that same moment. ” Do I have what it takes? ”
Oh yeah…I can just see the snickering at this post…Oh she’s such a wuss, look what she’s writing now….Yeah man, so dumb…What a loser…….Gah, have some balls…etc and so on.
Well. That might be true. But I do have the guts to go for what I love, and better late than never.
And it is also true that for each one of the other drivers there. Yeah: the jolly self-deprecating banter, the deadpan jokes, the blase, thick-skinned bravado, or the tired “seen it all” boredom they brandish about covers an internal urge pushing each one. Just a little faster, just shave off the last personal best, not forced into allowing a pass.
The competition is…cue cliche here…against yourself. Yet, as any pro will tell you, the crux of the matter lies in risk:benefit ratios, and forces many of us to swallow the bitter pill of incremental growth.
RedStrap drove a car very similar to mine in origin. He had spent the past 10 years stripping it down, and had installed a 3.6 liter engine along with a limited slip differential and upgraded brakes from a 993 in the front and a 996 in the rear. It was a dedicated track beast, with expanded tire wells to handle racing tires.
The weekend began with sleep deprivation, over-focus on traffic management, confusion at turn 3, and subsequent degradation of my previously tight handling of turns 4 into the Snake. While RedStrap was positive and encouraging me (and even adopted the squiggle line at turn 1 as his own marker, courtesy of MJ), things were going downhill.
After a nap and a cup of tea, I, FDM returned for the last session. RedStrap coached me through turn 12 by identifying a peripheral marker for a turn in: the green stripe behind the tirewall. It helped, and I will carry that marker going forward. In fact, I have seen it in my dreams when I am driving through Oak Tree.
By Sunday morning, I realized turn 3 was setting me off, and I discussed it with RedStrap. We agreed I could go back to doing what I was used to doing (taking it as a sweeper) and things seemed to click a bit better.
(RedStrap and FDM debriefing)
Meanwhile, Kivinski and I had said a somber goodbye Sunday morning. It was not easy to see her leave when several things in life were so sad in so many ways. In some way it seemed to make up for it that the weather promised to be much better. Even though, later on as I write about it, it comes out just sounding wrong somehow. Maybe when temperatures were so bitingly chilly, it mattered more. I missed her, but tried to turn my focus to getting my in car videos set up. As the day went on, I along with my track bros. the dashing Agent 007, GreenFrog, Tex, and 928enBlanc our spirits climbed up with the temperatures and the day ended on a high note for all.
I, Tex, MaclarenRoss and M3Dav hung out for the finale. Quote of the day: by M3Dav, “Glenmorangie will be the last drink I will request before I die.” In the end, we all gratefully drove our trophies home.