Yes, yes, yes.
I know you’re wanting to hear the Indy Story. I’m working on it. (I swear. Really!) But today something is happening at VIR. It marks an important milestone in my development as a high performance driver.
Today the Northern New Jersey Porsche Club of America (NNJR PCA) is hosting its 2015 annual High Performance Driving Event (HPDE) at Virginia International Raceway (VIR).
One year ago, that event was the subject of my first ever blog post. That was a seminal driving experience for me in many ways. At the 2014 NNJR PCA VIR HPDE, I showed some unexpected maturity by self-demoting to Yellow from Blue (because Blue and White were driving combined sessions). Could I have imagined that I, being recently promoted to the coveted Blue run group, would pull myself back? But it was the right thing to do.
One year ago today, Mr. Le Mans coached me my first time driving in the rain, and he taught me to relax and laugh and enjoy myself behind the wheel. In doing so, I got faster, better. Last winter, due to family illness, I had to be overseas for several weeks. Earlier he had accepted my invitation to write about his trip to Le Mans, and during my absence his comprehensive detailed accounts of his European journey were published. They’re excellent! Check them out! https://fastdrivermom.com/2015/01/26/to-lemans-and-beyond-part-one-by-larry-schmidt/
And Agent 007, although he wasn’t even instructing me that weekend, applauded my fledgeling passes–really, 3 caymans!– in my Green/Yellow run group. For the first time ever, I was NOT the slowest on track. Agent 007 has style, speed, Southern courtliness, and the courage to promote me!
It was this same weekend, a year ago, that crazy-fast SwamiMike offered me a right seat ride. And a lifetime supply of track knowledge, complete with sarcastic sound-bites. With his relentlessly perfectionistic standards, his willingness to speak the truth, and goading me into proving him wrong, I have learned a thing or two from this dude. He has indelibly changed my life.
And, exactly one year ago, Vader taught me how to take Oak Tree using a skipped gear downshift technique, coached me on getting in touch with my inner-bitch, AND begged Mr. LeMans to trade his student for ME! I’ll never, ever, ever let him forget it. His patience, willingness to teach, endlessly egging me on, ragging and prodding and high expectations are one third of the reasons I push myself.
When I started out last year, I had a clear, definite plan.
My plan was to sit in my car alone the entire time between sessions on every single track day, because I was the only brown woman who wasn’t working in the kitchen. Instead, I was embraced by the warmth of sincere friendships, practically a family of track brothers and sisters. These relationships, unexpectedly, have become intertwined into my real life just as those I cherish and treasure with my long-time friends and family. And, like all true and important friendships, they’ve brought me richness, wisdom, humility, courage, frustration, growth, joy, gratitude and love.
My plan had been to stick with driving only at VIR until 2017, when my youngest would begin high school. Instead, I drove 5 track configurations this year: VIR Full Course, VIR North Course, Road Atlanta, Indianapolis Motor Speedway the Grand Prix Course, and Roebling Road Raceway. Four of them, solo. I am now driving in the PCA White/Intermediate Solo groups and Yellow/Solo with Chin.
My plan had been to drive Bianca forever, in her original, unspoiled, fully Audrey Hepburn condition: pearls, and heels, and eyeliner, and silk stockings. Instead I am driving Moxie–a modified gladiatrix in body with the engine of a little momentum ballerina, pulling no punches in her suspension and brakes, with growling exhaust and some serious street smarts…More like Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver or Niki Minaj when she was blonde. Moxie is illegal for streets. So I have a trailer now as well.
I have relied heavily on the kindness, love, and understanding of my husband and children. And on the sustained, enduring, endlessly patient teaching of my instructors and coaches. And on the faith that you, my family and friends all over the world, have kept in my growth. And on my benefactors’ and sponsors’ ongoing generosity and support. And on your readership. The blog has only survived because of my readers.
There is no way that I could ever have persisted in my driving journey this far, this long, alone. I am here today as a driver because of you. Thank you.