Friday the 13th at VIR. Forecast loomed ominously. Rain, sleet, hail, puddles, and muddy run-off from the hills pouring onto track.
You may remember (hubby away, caring for sick puppies, two teenagers, etc.) my track prep had been minimal: watch vids, wax car, stuff track gear into frunk.
At work, it was the week after Spring Break. That usually means that anyone who had avoided panic attacks all year was now fulminant.
I cannot overstate my gratitude for kid-wrangling friends: Amie, Clare, Angie, and Lars. You guys made it possible. I had packed Bianca the night before. After taking emergencies that day, I shot out of clinic way behind schedule. Straight home, switched cars, and began redlining my way to salvation.
At Oak Tree, I discovered 007, RAM and Mrs. Showmonkie had graciously saved me a seat at dinner. The atmosphere was charged with excitement! For most of us Track Monkies this was the season opener. Vader and Tex arrived shortly followed by 930Man. Slow service led to a relatively late meal, but we had fun catching up.
Next morning, I awoke at six. Not at 2:30 am! Amazing! No jumping jacks, running or yoga were necessary! Registration and inspection down in good time. For the first time I was “alert and oriented times four” when drivers meeting began. I was just a bit nervous about using new tires on a wet track. It began to sleet, then hail during the meeting. Next, I discovered that my assigned instructor was absent. What? After some back and forth the organizers found me someone to be paired up with. I’m ashamed to have said “Wait, I wanted my special instructor!”
Because that is exactly what I got. CastleGuy: an M3 driver. Laid back, with an infectious grin, and inspirational style of teaching. He sensed how tense I was. And began every session by saying “Let’s just go out there and have some fun!”
CastleGuy undid a the damage that my last track event had sustained back in November. He helped me build on carrying momentum into turn 1 consistently. Next at turn 3, he helped me return to taking it fast, as a sweeper, as 007 and Mr. LeMans had taught me.
Then, he showed me a new entry line going into the “Esses” at turns 7, 8, 9. Taking 10 faster than before, and the biggest change for me: Taking turns 11 and 12 as a slingshot, rather than a double-apex! CastleGuy tidied up my entry into 14 and helped me to identify the feel of Bianca’s balance shift for the optimal braking point between turns 17 and 17a.
Shaved off 10 seconds.
On Sunday, the sun shone triumphantly! What a grand start to 2015! Laughter, fist-bumps, comparing notes, getting pointers and celebrating! RAM got his black wristband. TrackMonkies crew included Tex, Vader, 007, 930Man KingK, GreenFrog, SaintWasso, ProCoach, Mr. and Mrs. ShowMonkie, RGB, The Major, 928enBlanc and QueenB. We even had special guests: GoThingNC, JaSchifster, and LeggyStig! People I missed: Kivinski, Mr. LeMans, SweetandSourSwami, and SCDon.
One last thing. Promise.
Driving Bianca reminds me of Neil Young’s lyrics of a powerful, indestructible woman surviving the ingrained paradox of strength and imperfection. That’s Bianca.
Hello Cowgirl in the sand. Is this place at your command?
Hello Ruby in the dust. Has your band begun to rust?
Hello Binky with your tires. Could you set the track on fire?
Yes. It is the woman in me that makes me want to play this game.
Up next: Bibbity Bobbity Boo