The Indy Story.

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Moxie and Mom on the Brickyard front straight! A coveted shot, a gift from John at Fluid Photo.

I left off here: Awesome Without Borders had granted me $1000 to drive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Thanks to the additional generosity of many folks, I obtained needed supplies.  Amazingly, my hubby was unaffectedly excited about Indy. He doesn’t love cars, but is a Hoosier born and bred. Perhaps the Speedway itself struck a chord that resonated. For the first time ever, Big T actually considered taking vacation days to pit crew for me. Although that didn’t happen, knowing he tried mattered to me.

Ten days prior to departure, I began the loading process. After an 800 mile drive to University, we said goodbyes apprehensively to our firstborn. The young freshman didn’t look back as he joined his new friends for dorm hall meeting. I encountered a jumbled emotional mix. But that’s another story.

My lovely family drove back to North Carolina, and I was left headed with my rig to Naptown.

Let me pause here for a moment to describe the magnitude of the event that was organized by Mid-Ohio Region Porsche Club of America (MORPCA): Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) has existed for 105 years. It has only ever hosted races. There has never been an amateur event for non-racing purposes.

Being an elite track, while very welcoming, IMS had regulations designed for professional racing only. This was a three year endurance effort of planning for MORPCA and IMS. There are many things about this event that were unusual. Some were logistical puzzles. Others were sheer super-coolness.

 

Upon arriving in Indianapolis, Moxie was pre-tech inspected by Brian at European Auto Sports. A hidden gem of a shop, specializing in European performance cars, Brian himself has a racing pedigree as former Crew Chief for Michael Andretti. He gave Moxie the once over, signed my form, and accepted no payment. #whataguy!

Thursday I chased down some racing brake pads and hunted for rotors. I wanted to be prepared at track in case I needed spares. Thanks to AIM Tuning Indy Miata, I got what I needed. By afternoon, I was ready for the MORPCA tech line. Normally, inspection happens on-site at the track. This means you can drive your rig there, get car inspected, unload, and are ready to go the next morning.

However, IMS wasn’t available the night before. The organizers had to arrange for tech inspection at a NON-track venue. Can you imagine this scene? 270 track cars, loaded onto 270 trailers, being driven by 270 tow-rigs, and 270 drivers (not including crew/families/groupies) all lining up in the back parking lot of the Wyndham.

Seriously? But it worked like a charm! Within the space of three smooth hours all had completed tech inspection. Registration, wristbands, and information sessions were incredibly well organized. Waiting at the end of the line was a sumptuous buffet with robust quantities of delectable hors d’oeuvres and beverages provided. Kudos to Kevin of MORPCA and his leadership team!

The atmosphere was festive. People greeted each other joyfully, after all, it was Indy. The MORPCA organizing team went out of their way to welcome outsider like me into the fold: Special thanks to Kevin, Chip and Dave. At registration, I met two advanced solo women drivers. LadyLambo, smiling with kind eyes, introduced herself warmly. She drove a peridot green Cayman R, and is an instructor with PCA (and other HPDE clubs) and for Teen Safety Driving. We were assigned to the same garage bay. ProPorsche, an athletic-looking blonde, works professionally as an instructor at the Porsche Driving School at Barber Motorsports Park. Her garage was near ours, with her black Corvette Z06.

The registration cost of the MORPCA mid Ohio region event was nearly $800, which seemed high at first. But honestly? This was the most well organized, lavishly appointed, pleasant experience I have ever had at ANY HPDE EVER! Dinners and breakfasts were included in the registration, as was individual garage space for each driver! (Also, I should mention, there were excellent dining and wash-up facilities nearby each garage bay. Showering between sessions is critical for me to stay cool when driving in warmer months.)

That Thursday night, after registration, Indy Pro driver Dan Clarke presented an overview of the track. Most present had never driven here, and had been using Dan’s in-car videos to prepare. I slept restlessly that night. I dreamt of my children and Bianca, my 911.

For the first time ever, I would face a new track without an instructor.

Arrival at track was early, allowing time for the nearly 300 rigs to unload.  En route, I stopped to fill the fuel jugs. Track went hot at 8:00 am for the instructors to take the yellow students for a ride. My run group (B1/PCA White/Intermediate Solo) would be next, at 8:30. The MORPCA team proved their mettle by ensuring that all unloading was done seamlessly, for people to grid by 7:50 am.

After unloading my gear and parking Moxie in her bay I checked oil, tire pressures, and gas. I thought she needed gas. Hurrying to drivers meeting at 8:00, I decided to gas up afterwards.  But drivers meeting started late. And ended late. They were calling our session.

Most of my run group gridded up quickly. Could I risk it? My gas gauge was unreliable: maybe I had enough gas? But then, did I want to be THAT guy? That idiot running out of gas very first session, making the entire session black flagged?

Heart pounding, with trembling hands I hoisted the 5 gallon jug, siphoning in gas. By now, my run group had left the grid. Gearing up, my harness got stuck but I couldn’t see where. I got out, removed my helmet and fixed it. But when I reached grid, the next session was lining up. The grid worker waved me away. I had missed the entire session!

Fighting the bitterness rising in the back of my throat, I sat watching my run group pit in. I bit my lip hard and tried to breathe deeply. I drove Moxie to the garage.

But the rest of the day went well. I was glad I’d done my homework: For 2 weeks, I had been  watching in-car videos by pro drivers daily, and had practiced by visualizing the course. Also, I’d printed aerial views from Google Earth to plot the driving-line. MORPCA had sent out a link for two Pro Coaches track walks. I knew the configuration well.

The Indy GP course has minimal elevation change and only two decreasing radius turns.  As is often the case, it appeared deceptively simple on video. Driving the course, the challenge became clear: the turns are very closely spaced together. By the time you exit one turn, you are already in the middle of the next turn.  All of Friday, I had no choice but to work on my vision. The track itself forced me to think two turns ahead.

Another surprise: I felt very comfortable in my run group. When registering, I had requested to be put in the lowest run group with an instructor but the registrar had bumped me up. In B1/Intermediate solo, I wasn’t the fastest, but certainly not the slowest. Overall, I kept pace just fine. Amazingly, I was NOT the greenest driver by a long shot.

Throughout the day, I chatted with Lady Lambo. That weekend she wasn’t instructing, but still generously shared her knowledge with me. Another first for me: this very experienced driver expressed an interest in hearing my technique, and exchanged ideas for how to approach some tricky turns: in particular turns 4 and 13. This reciprocity was entirely unexpected! Surely she was just being kind…but maaaaaaaaaaybe just maybe…… could it possibly be….that what I was saying made sense?

Late Friday afternoon, Moxie’s calipers made an odd grinding noise. I worried that I had burned through my brake pads. I asked LadyLambo if she could tell. We realized the only way to be sure would be to remove the tires. I discovered the jack I bought was too high to fit under Moxie. I borrowed my other neighbor’s racing jack and (for the first time ever!) put her on jack-stands. Track people are incredible: LadyLambo and CaptainF-16 showed me how. Yeah…that’s how big a doof I was. Chip Vance from Auto Assets in Ohio stopped by and very kindly pulled off the wheels. My brake pads were FINE! Well over 50% thickness! When I offered payment, he declined.

Fears put to rest, I enjoyed my final session on track. By Friday’s end, I felt I’d comfortably handled turns 2 and 3, turns 5-6 and the 7-10 complex.

After garaging Moxie and a quick shower at the hotel, I returned to the IMS Museum for the reception/dinner. What an experience! While people mingled near the buffet, I slowly drank in the automotive history on display. Before leaving, I stopped at the gift shop and bought T-shirts for friends and family. Except Hair-Gel…None on display were to his taste, so I bought a beanie.

Saturday morning, I felt fresh and ready. I knew what to do: turn in sooner for 4 and brake later/harder into 12. Turn 13 kept surprising me with its acute angle which made me slow getting on the gas at turn 14. Oh yeah, Also?…brake later at 1. Still had ZERO visual cues for optimal turn in there.

My third session Saturday would be an in-car coaching session with Dan Clarke himself! And I was in for a treat: SpeedyDan gave consistent directions, turn after turn after turn. Gas gas gas! Brake hard! Now! Roll it, roll it, roll it.. Now! Breathe the throttle, breathe it. NOW eyes up, eyes up, eyes up!…On the gas on the gas on the gas! It felt exhilarating to carry faster speeds into turn 1, 2 and 3. I went into 4 slower and came out faster. Braking later than I could ever imagine, I carried more speed into turn 7 and (as often happens) found it was so much easier to take it and 8-9 at higher speeds.

Afterwards, Dan sat with me to review his notes. I could see what I’d fumbled, and where I’d progressed. He hopped out to for his next student.

Midday Saturday, LadyLambo had experienced some  transient visual changes while driving, and had pitted in early. I was on grid when she came in, but was tipped off by CaptF-16 that she had gone to the EMS unit. I went to check in on her and found two EMS staff standing with her. They said they didn’t know what to make of her symptoms.

LL consented to my examination: A quick neuro screen showed zero focal findings. Immediately relieved, I suggested electrolytes: gatorade and a banana. She remained, understandably, shaken and decided to rest in the infirmary. Eventually, she felt ready to try another session on track…just to see how the first 3 laps went. She’d pit in if it felt bad. Happily, she completed her entire session and felt fine!

That evening was the final reception at the track. The MORPCA organizers had somehow managed to get access to the dining pavilion nearest to the track. I puckered up at my chance to kiss the fabled bricks.

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Smooching the bricks at last!

By Sunday morning, I’d dropped my lap time by 30 seconds from Friday’s first session. LadyLambo had decided to leave early on Sunday, so we said goodbye and promised to meet again. The rest of the day was an exhilarating blur! I was faster! I passed several cars! I even had an off (onto grass) after overcooking turn 7! Here I was, a mere 3 days short of my 47th birthday, driving my race car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. What an immense gift I had received from my family, Awesome Without Borders, my other sponsors, Swami Mike (who provided text-support all weekend!), my instructors, and my friends. The humility and gratitude washed over me unexpectedly, as I snuck in a solitary moment over lunch with my track notes.

 

 

That evening, after track went cold, I had planned to load up The Pig Rig and drive partway home. But my college kiddo’s credit card had expired. So, instead The Rig and I drove an hour and half to drop off Cufflinks’ fresh card. I had hoped to buy him dinner. When we met, he was very sweet.  He hugged me, and helped me realign the spare tire rack. Some dorm friends stopped by to ooooh and ahhh over Moxie. Clearly, my son was busy, happy, and didn’t need me there.

Driving away, exhausted entirely, I slumped over the steering wheel, feeling famished. I had another hour and half drive to the hotel.

Heading out of town, I noticed a drug store flaunting a temptingly empty parking lot. Parking the rig, I went inside to use the ladies room and pick up a picnic dinner. As I paid for the fruit and cheese and salad, I impulsively told the clerk “Gimme a pack of those Marlboro lights.” I smoked my first cigarette in 19 years. Immediately followed by my second cigarette in 19 years (which I photographed). I left the rest of the pack on the smokers bench at my hotel. It would have worked equally well to get a tattoo, but I don’t do tattoos.

In predawn darkness, The Pig Rig and I drove home, 700 miles. We arrived 13 hours later in time to pick Hair Gel and Diva up from school. After many hugs and kisses, I moved Moxie and the tires into the garage, and drove the trailer to Buddha’s shop in Raleigh.

By clinic the next morning, I had a fresh manicure and a new attitude.

MoxieCrossingBricksIndy2015

 

 

Decals and Dorm Stuff and Rubber and Jugs and Kindnesses by Strangers and Family and Friends

Thoughts of Indy tempered my anticipated loss, with son moving away. #freshmanyear
Thoughts of Indy tempered my anticipated loss, with son moving away. #freshmanyear

Incredible.

Simply, incredible.

I was an Awesome Without Borders (AWB) grantee. Validation indeed. An entire committee of complete strangers… believed in my cause! Thank you AWB!

The public release date was later, so I kept it private. That afternoon, Swami texted “Congratulations!”  Punky and Swami are chums from way back. Evidently, she’d told him. And had forwarded him my emotionally overwrought acceptance response. He thought it was fake. “You have the lingo down pat!” his email chortled.

I told Big T and the kids at dinner. They cheered! Even Cufflinks! Little Diva exclaimed “Mah bebbe girl will be on TeeVeee!” and kissed me! Next morning I called Yanni, Buddha, Kivinski and Vader. The grant check arrived. I registered. Remainder: $200.

Late summer blurred past, and the focus zoomed on college-transitioning Cufflinks. It felt so emotionally complex, so intense, that some days Indy never blipped the radar. Crazy, I know–but true.

But ever-vigilant helpless-track-junkie-boy Swami’s understated excitement was infectious. Playfully bantering about Hello Kitty livery designs, the happy goofy track-talk kept my heart from breaking over my kid leaving home. Gradually my thoughts on Indy lit up. “You’ll need new tires!” advised Swami. With alleged budget shredded, that was impossible.

This is the old banner that Moxie came fitted with.
This is the old banner that Moxie came fitted with.

Then, one evening out walking, Big T spoke:

“Honey, won’t you need new tires?”

“Not really. Mike says I should get some.”

“Let’s get you some! Besides, your birthday’s coming up.”

He logged into Tire Rack. I stood at his elbow, biting my lip. Salivating. He didn’t notice. My knees melted as he clicked the “Pay Now” button…OMG. New rubber!

Next day, SweetandSourSwami emailed with subject line: “An Idea”. He had designed a windshield banner using the AWESOME WITHOUT BORDERS logo. In typical off-handed delivery he gave step-by-step details for execution. Stuff I wouldn’t have thought of in a million years: Banner width, letter size, the margins from windshield edge, and so on. “RA will flip!” Swami predicted. It was a brilliant idea! What better way to thank Punky?

My sponsors!
My sponsors!

I was pumped! I proudly showed Vader the banner! As we spoke, a lightbulb popped on. “Hey, maybe I can sponsor you! Put my stickers on your car for Indy,” Vader offered. And, so began a week-long ridiculous haggle-fest. Days later, a malodorous stench emerged. It wasn’t working. It wasn’t worth it. I offered to put Vader’s beach rental stickers on my car without any money changing hands. Did Vader continue to argue with me? He huffed and fussed and I cajoled AND we sorted it out. We are still BFFs.

Searching for reputable decals shops, I found Christopher “Jeep” at Carolina Banner in Durham. He was clearly busy, but patiently answered my questions about vinyl finish types, opacity, pricing. Back in January Kivvi had floated developing an FDM logo. I had allowed my busy life to punt it. Bad move. Now I stood facing Indy, with my silver ballerina sparkling, starkly logo-less.

I decided to take a trial run up to VIR with the Pig towing Moxie and the trailer. I said hello to friends driving in Chump races that weekend and purchased four 5 gallon fuel jugs. Now the Pig was almost full with the unusual matrimony of track gear and dorm gear.
TMI Racing Products has a shop at VIR, also has a tech shop on-site there. They are the only shop in the world that builds the Ariel Atom.

Costs were adding up fast. The remaining $200 partially covered the AWB decals. European Performance of Raleigh and NewsBlues.com stickers, without vector images, cost six-fold. I had to do what was right, and told Jeep I could not afford any decals that said FastDriverMom. He proofed me some anyway. As I fretted over them, I glanced up to see Jeep looking my way. I was wasting his time.  My face flushed hot. With an embarrassed a laugh, I jokingly asked if he’d consider a discount if I put a Carolina Banner sticker on Moxie.

“Sure! Why not?” My jaw dropped.

In fifteen minutes flat, he devised a quick-and-dirty logo. I had a logo!

Matt from Leonard’s trailer hitch had contacted me about sponsorship. Specifically, a giant Leonard’s sticker on Moxie’s bumper. Eventually, his boss couldn’t get corporate approval. This was a loss.

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Dinged!

There was another upcoming cost: In July, my sons’ friends met Moxie for the first time. Moxie’s doors have always been slightly misaligned, the fenders buckling a smidge if opened too fast. Nothing major really, and gently treated, they worked fine. One kid, a big fella,  (6’3″ 200+ lbs) in a single excited ungainly swoop, effortlessly forced the door. I winced as Moxie released a metallic groan. I took a photo. Swami and Big T both said: “Air scoop maybe?”

At Johnson Body Shop on Iredell Street in Durham, I met owner Mike Philips. As I described my difficulty, a smile grew on his face. “I can take care of it. It won’t cost you anything. No need to take her off the trailer. Bring her over Friday.”  I did. In less than 60 seconds, he was done!

With Moxie on the trailer and packed for Indy, to practice driving the Pig as a tow-vehicle, I took a trial run up to VIR. At the TMI Pro shop I bought four 5 gallon fuel jugs. I wasn’t taking any chances with $10 gas again!

All better now, thanks to Johnson Auto Body Works!
THANK YOU Johnson Body Shop!

All of Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to packing for my son. Freshman orientation began Tuesday. All packed and loaded, kids on board, early Monday I picked up the new Toyos from DigiBrad’s.

And drove 800 miles.

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I CAN load up single-handedly!

I would return as a different person.

Return To Road Atlanta: Epilogue. Sucker Punch Wrap Up

Team Silver! Ready for Road Atlanta
Team Silver! Ready on Day 2 of Road Atlanta. Vader has 2 lovely beach houses for rent, hence the advertisements on his car, Beach Boy.
chin
I really dig this: the Chin Motorsports logo.

There in the Road Atlanta paddocks late on Sunday after an overall fantastic track weekend with Chin Motorsports, I skipped with joy. I had improved! I could drive Moxie! My heart sang.

Vader and 3HC had just departed, I began hauling my track gear onto the UHaul…hehe… Get it?   “I was hauling onto the UHaul” …   Okay, hey? I’m alright for a cheesy snicker sometimes. Well, lets be honest: anytime.

Next up: loading Moxie onto Dolly. I asked a neighboring driver (black Dodge Charger) if he could help me line up the wheels. Since Moxie has no handbrake it’s an all or nothing process. And I was a noob.

At first attempt a grating skirching sound declared the bumper had caught. I tried to reverse off. Bad Move.

It became stuck with Moxie halfway on the ramp, with my foot hard on the brake pedal. My only choice was to release the brake hoping I could over-rev to get her positioned, before she slipped off entirely.

I revved. Moxie lurched. Then BANG. The engine shut down. Slowly, soundlessly little Moxie slipped off the ramp.

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Not the sound you want to hear on a Sunday evening in the paddock.

Back on the asphalt, I put her into gear, and re-started the engine. I revved toward where the guy pointed. She didn’t budge.

Tried again. She roared, but remained immobile.

By this point, several others heard the commotion and came over. EvanM rushed to me first: “What’s wrong?” Looking under the car, he spotted the main drive-shaft hanging down ineffectively. He quickly called over others, and asked for my toolbox. I did not have one.

Just then, a truck with the Ferrari logo and lettering “JM Automotive” stopped. JavierM jumped out of his truck. He was clearly an expert, working with some Ferrari drivers over the weekend. While Evan explained, Javier rolled up his sleeves. Within seconds Moxie was jack-standed.

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Giving up was not an option. Instead I silently simultaneously cussed and gave prayers of thanks. You can see Javier’s nice leather shoe under Moxie’s #59. And, in case you’re wondering, I wasn’t exactly doing my nails—I was trying to see where the U Bolts came from in case my tech needed me to show him. And special thanks to my special friends for mentioning my prodigious rear end. Yeah girl, it is what it is. You can look but you can’t touch.

I tried to watch Javier work.  With surgical precision, he unscrewed the U bolts attaching the broken drive shaft and, 10 minutes later, handed it to me. As Javier packed up, Evan’s friends took photos.

Other kind souls worked together to push Moxie onto Dolly and secured her tightly. We got a group photo. Javier was in a hurry, I offered payment for his expertise and his work. He just smiled kindly and briefly shook his head no. Matter-of-factly, he and his truck drove off.

Moxie shown here on life support, being pushed/hoisted up onto the dolly.
Moxie shown here on life support, being pushed/hoisted up onto the dolly.

With a grateful heart I drove back to the hotel. I planned to drive back home the next day. I texted hubby and kids but got no reply.

Then I told Swami about the driveshaft. He commiserated with me, agreeing that our hobby is a ridiculous one. I confessed that I had spent my entire annual budget, and my fear that my beloved husband would leave me because I love cars and driving. With empathy borne of suffering his own track-related fiascos, Swami offered words of wisdom and caution for future steps.

EvanM judiciously texted me that night to see if I was OK, and then again the next day on my drive home. During my drive back I was focused getting my Pig ready for the Indiana trip next week: I called Jimmy (Buddha) at European Performance to set that appointment up…and then I realized “DUH!”  I had a dead car I was towing…where could I take her? I asked Buddha. God bless him, he said: “Just bring her here.”

About a week later, Moxie had a new drive shaft and a muffler. The money for the dolly, the U-Haul, and the repairs all came from my track budget. There was nothing left. I was done with track for the year.

Tired and broke, I returned home.

This photo is the property of AP Photos, and shows a panel of art copyrighted by Marvel Comics.
This photo is the property of AP Photos, and shows a panel of art copyrighted by Marvel Comics.

Return to Road Atlanta: Chapter 2. Hello Dolly! and Cletus too!

I did find a way. I always do.

WW snarling
I always thought I was a Marvel girl. Until fellow Car Spotter GoThing NC assigned Wonder Woman as my superhero character. She needs reading glasses, then we can be twins. (Image copyright DC Comics)

Absent an imminent trailer purchase, my Pig, a Mercedes Benz R 320 CDI would haul a tow dolly, but needed a hitch.

A week ahead, we ordered the OEM MB tow hitch. Four days later, no word. This could take months! Truly, one of the organic joys of German automobile ownership is paying love in gray hairs.  “kein Problem dude. That’s where ‘Murica wins!” and I drove to UHaul.

The UHaul sign promised: “Right Hitch, Right Price, Right Now!”  Translation? “A week from now, miss. Next in line.” I called Matt at Leonard’s in Durham who could get the hitch by Friday, but that would be too late.

With just 28 hours until drivers meeting, I got a truck. My exhausted debit card shuddered.

My plan: depart Thursday night for a midnight arrival in Dawsonville. Meeting Ron Z at Discovery Parts and Clay at Racing Analytics at 7am Friday. All day would be dedicated to set up: I hoped to have a personally fitted racing seat photo 1installed, the existing drivers seat mounted on the right, the fire extinguisher relocated, and a pre-track inspection done by evening. Then, I’d drive to Braselton for Chin registration.

Coordinating this in four days required serious scheduling gymnastics. Kudos to Mrs. Zap and Shea H!

Thursday after clinic, I picked up the UHauls.  I had never done anything remotely like this before! I could barely see over the trucks’s steering wheel. Big T guided as I loaded Moxie onto the dolly. It tore off the front bumper. A harbinger of  the future, no doubt, but I remained oblivious from excitement. (Note to self: always take Rennlisters’ cautions seriously!) Packed, loaded, humming to myself, I blithely set off! 

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The MoxieMobile. Driving the GianTruck was kind of fun, in a sleazy, cigarette-smoke, exotic way.

Twently minutes down I-85, I remembered: Rain tires! Moxie had slicks and it was a 60% forecast.

An hour later, with tires on board, and Dolly’s speed limit at 55mph, I realized my ETA would be 2:30 am, best case. Sigh.

But, like many of you, I enjoy driving and by the time I passed the South Carolina border, I had melted into the pleasurable experience with an operatic accompaniment.

By 2:15 am, still an hour from Dawsonville, The MoxieMobile, Puccini, and I were lone ramblers on the diamond-studded asphalt, riding left lane at 65mph. A pair of headlights rapidly approached from behind and, nudging the wheel toward the right lane, I reached the turn signal. Just as I flipped it, my mirror lit up with flashing blue lights.

I wasn’t speeding! I wasn’t weaving! I wasn’t even listening to rap music! What???

I pulled onto the shoulder. With hands raised, trembling, nauseated with panic, I sat still. From behind, a flashlight beamed on my neck. The officer approached the passenger window, motioning to roll it down.

“Ma’am, do you know why I stopped you?” He sounded like a 16-year-old.

“Please officer! I wasn’t speeding! I just got a ticket on this road six weeks ago! My husband will kill me! Please, no ticket!”

I sounded shrill over the crescendo of Tosca stabbing Scarpia in the murder scene Il Bacio di Tosca! The officer gestured to turn the sound down.

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The Dukes of Hazzard: Cletus and Roscoe. Image owned by Warner Brothers Studios.

“I just wanted to check if you were awake, that’s all. Is this your truck Ma’am?”

“I’m awake, sir. It’s a UHaul.”

“erhrrrm…” he awkwardly cleared his throat. He asked me who owns the race car and where was I going.

“I’m taking my car to drive at Road Atlanta, sir.”

Glancing agog at my orange helmet on the passenger seat, his fingertips reached into the window toward my folded Nomex jacket. Unconsciously caressing the embroidered SunTrust logo, his eyes grew wide.

“Is this your helmet? And your racing suit?”

I nodded.

“Do you like to drive on track?”

“Yes.” I hiccuped, my arms still raised.

His expression changed. He chuckled, returned my license, and patted the truck.

“Don’t worry about it Ma’am!” he waved.

Being an old lady does come with plusses! I breathed deeply and shifted to D.

By 3:45am I was checked in at the Dawson Village Inn Hotel, in Georgia. Noticing the truck, the young receptionist offered the main entrance awning for parking, because their lot was fully packed.  I had overshot by 2 feet, and needed to reverse for correct positioning.

Some lessons are so incredibly painful, mainly because of the context.
Some lessons are so incredibly painful, mainly because of the context.

Or, I could just drive it around the hotel” I thought, cleverly. Imagining the hot shower and cozy bed  awaiting me momentarily, I pulled toward the far end of the lot where I would turn, and … hit a dead end. “Oh carp!”

Next indelible lesson: *It is not possible to reverse a dolly.* Remember this one forever kids.

The truck, the dolly, and Moxie were blocking a dozen vehicles. After futile solo struggles, I asked the receptionist for help. Brandon good-naturedly guided my attempts toward un-stuckness.

Absolutely minimal progress 45 minutes later, I could no longer see straight.  I had not slept in 24 hours. Sunrise was imminent and I was scheduled to meet the folks at Discovery Parts in two hours. No, I did not cry. Instead, I decided to take a nap!

This young man, Brandon, is the person who exemplifies the type of unexpected and selfless kindness people have shown me on so many occasions. He is currently seeking his Masters Degree in Education, and works the night shifts at the hotel reception desk. To his right is his sister in law who is the morning desk clerk.
This young man, Brandon, is the person who inspired me!

With Brandon’s blessing, I left the parking lot jammed with the hideous contraption. Staggering upstairs, I collapsed into the bed. Perhaps I slept. Forty-five minutes later I was downstairs. Showered and alive. Brandon was still there, smiling softly with kind eyes. He had waited after his shift in case I needed help.

Inspired by this unexpected flash of kindness, I felt a freshness of purpose! The potent combination of a hot shower, clean panties, and caffeine re-surged my ridiculous optimism! In a bounding victory over middle-aged sleep deprivation, I charged the beast again!

The night had melted seamlessly into morning. A light mist hung in the air.
The night arced seamlessly into morning. A light mist hung in the air.

This time, we succeeded in pulling a full 3 point- turn in less than 30 minutes! Amidst a small cheering audience, I took photos and said goodbyes.photo 1

With Moxie’s nose pointed in the right direction, she was ready to go. Twenty minutes later I signed the waiver at the gates of Atlanta Motorsports Park. The guard seemed shocked that I arrived in a UHaul. “I’ve never seen anything like it before!”

High snob factor or not, everyone at AMP was very kind. Bleary-eyed but victorious, I had reached my destination!

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Mission phase one: Accomplished!

Return to Road Atlanta: The Overture

My experiences on track in 2015 changed everything.

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The protocol requires you to keep smiling.

A sense of fallibility and seriousness set in.  And I, the allegedly fast driving Dr. Mom, faced a few problems:

1. Habitually over-braking in Bianca, the 911.

2. Fear of crashing Bianca.

3. Realizing the absolute necessity to develop momentum driving skills.

4. Improper seating causing exhaustion.

5. Knowing that any necessary safety/seating modifications would depreciate the car’s value.

6. A stubborn insistence upon doing more with less.

The solution would have to be a race-prepped track-ready car. But which one? The Cayman in Tennessee? The Boxster in Wilmington? The G series 911 in Virginia? Conversations and consultations flew around electronically:  VtechPower, Greenfrog, Vader, Mr. LeMans, Tex, Koldcrest, SCDon, GillesV and Mr. 912 kindly shared their time, wisdom, experience and knowledge. Eventually, I decided.

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This says it all.

But Swami had already known it. That’s why he’s the Swami.

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Foreshadowing my automotive destiny.

There were plenty on the market. After taking a test drive I nearly bought a non-Spec Miata in Fayetteville. A hiccup on the pricing and delay on funding sources put the kibosh on that.

Serendipitously, just as I was clearing up the cash flow line,  a friend of a friend, legendarily known as The Jamochan Shaker, directed me toward a proven badass car. She was the real deal. And, for a Spec-Miata, was a steal.

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TRVB #whataguy

The seller, TRVB, obviously loved this car. He had used her to work on obtaining his NASA racing license. He trekked 3 hours each way to lovingly deliver her personally.  With good cheer and great patience, he took time to go over the controls and equipment with me.

I felt baffled and excited and fearful as I slid into the driver’s seat. Her display panel was cryptic and unfamiliar. Once again, despite my lifelong enthusiasm for cars, I felt completely lost. I had to hoist myself into the cabin by grabbing on to the roll cage.

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Got that safety thing covered. And the joy of my very first kill switch!

Here was a whisper of possibility. Someday I might reach my goal!

The racing steering wheel was hanging off the rollcage, and took muscle to manipulate onto the shaft. I felt intimidation and puzzlement at that quirky starter set-up, the surreal pull-pin fire suppression system, the missing windows, the unidirectional kill switch and the bizarre door-latch apparatus.

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Serious and mysterious.

I giggled out loud when I saw the wide angle  rear view mirror: I could see so much! The Recaro seat smoothly slid up, and my foot floored the clutch effortlessly. The seat itself felt roomy around my hips but snug at my lower back and the new harness held me tight. It fit. I fit!

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Corded trunk hatch and reflected pups.

TRVB showed me how to start the engine. Without a muffler this tiny little fireball had the subtlety of a streetwalker. In that blast I heard her name. Moxie.

The neighborhood teenagers flocked to my driveway. A handsome but pimply boy shyly asked to look in. She is the only car I’ve owned that has no steering wheel, no ignition key, no passenger seat and no windows. She obviously has more track experience than Bianca and I combined. I felt intimidated, but I wanted to learn from her.

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Puppies and babies like her!

The puppies and kids approved. “MOM! That sounds so badass!” Even hubby expressed a mild interest. As TRVB pulled away in his trailer, I parked her next to Bianca in the garage.

My silver gladiatrix was ready, with slicks! And was not street legal.

I had to find a way to get her to Road Atlanta in seven days’ time. I began to worry that I might not. I was cutting it close.

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Back then I thought I was special. Innocence lost.

Race Track or Bust!

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Swami and FDM at Road Atlanta at the Turn 10a-10b complex.

Ah! Here I am again. Thursday, taking emergencies. Only today, there have been none. Among the patients at least.

Last week at VIR I ended up nearly destroying my 911. And, with four days of solo driving you might think my lap times improved, right?

WRONG.

Sadly, without an instructor in-car urging me, I discovered a insidious contentment to take it easy.  “I mean really, Ayesha” asks my amygdala. “What’s the rush? Take it easy baby…” and in a conspiratorial alliance my right foot willingly betrays me. Doing that stupid thing of lifting up.  “Jus’ chillaxing yo’.”

Trying to learn
Trying to learn

Still, I managed three things better:

1. Acceleration in the straights. My data logger proved to me that I was never below 110 at the end of the front straight or below 115 at the end of the back straight. And I was entering the climing esses again at 99 to 103 mph.

2. Beginning trail braking. Scott, the Chin instructor who sat right seat in my check ride last weekend worked with me to “squeeze” my foot off the brake. It’s tricky because the car has no power brakes and thus my own release must be smooth. By the end of the check ride, he said I was doing it right. I kept practicing.

3. Braking later, consistently.

how to drive
how to drive

“YAWN!” say all you guys with big cajones. And you have a point. But, as you are kind enough to read this far, undoubtedly you will agree when I say: “Whateva. I’m making progress.” Slooooooooowly an old dog is learning new tricks.

Slow feels painful.

To avoid discouragement, I must remind myself that within 15 months I have gone from a law-abiding, carpool minivan-driving, “Whatza nomex? Whatza track-out?” decorous, dumpy, middle-aged lady to a “Guess what? I don’t barf at 122 mph!” deliriously addicted, sunburnt, wild-haired, sweaty track hag.

I shall be leaving tonight again for track. Road Atlanta with Chin Motorsports. And, per protocol, there is a list of odds stacked against me.

a slow car fast.
a slow car fast.

“Quick run down the problem list, Doc? ”

With drivers meeting less than 48 hours away, I’ve gotta get:

1. Track car (check).

2. Tow vehicle/trailer (in the works).

3. Racing seats/harness/roll cage/HANS device (please, please, Discovery Parts and Racing Analytics of Dawsonville, GA).

4. Brick for gas pedal (overnight delivery by Amazon Prime).

5. Clothespin to protect my instructor’s nose from my malodorous driving (optional).

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For the student who is eager to learn.

Among my packing list, I must remember to include my Rumi finger puppet. Of course I’m not kidding. I DO actually own a Rumi finger puppet.

Thanks to Kivinski. And thank you WriterInk, WinterKnits, LeggyStig, LaserLady,Tex, Greenfrog, SCDon, 007,  VTechpower, Mr. LeM, GillesVN, DigiBro, Mr. Energy, and TrackRocketRacer.

Thank you Reader.

Bianca and Swami, it won’t be the same without you. I will miss you both but I know you are each getting necessary rest.

If I can do more with less, that means I have learned the skills necessary. Thank you Bianca and Swami.
If I can do more with less, that means I have the necessary skills. I’ll miss you Bianca and Swami.

Vaderito, maybe see you tomorrow? I love you Cufflinks, HairGel, and Diva. And you, Ami, Abboo, Mom, and Dad.

Most of all, you Ducky.

The Lotus, the Tire Wall, & a Lady Retires

photo 1Four days at track!  Count them baby….Yeah: One, two, three AND four! Now watch me Nae Nae. Yo.
Indeed. After the chafing at Road Atlanta, it was a soothing balm for the soul being back on my home turf: the verdant splendor and rolling hills at Virginia International Raceway.
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Cousins selfie at the pool!

Gradually our group of Track Monkeys drifted in Friday night, with the usual suspects Tex, Greenfrog and BP getting there first. By the next day, SemperFi with his 997 turbo and my favorite cousin in the whole WIDE WORLD, VTechpower with his Lotus Elise joined the ranks.  Saturday, I started first session in blue, solo. All day I worked on carrying more speed and was consistently able to stay over 110 in the straights without barfing. My old instructor Mr.Pink saw me out there and we agreed on a check ride for solo in Trackdaze Yellow.

Starting out in Blue with Trackdaze was painful: it was crowded and slow and I was passing cars. That is usually a sign that I’m ready to move up. After passing the check ride and moving into Yellow, I felt more on top of my game. Still slow, but not involuntarily so.

Sunday morning, the Track Monkeys took a few moments for a photo op. We knew that we were the luckiest people on Earth that day.
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Track Monkeys: BP, Greenfrog, Tex, VTechpower, FDM, SemperFi, SoleMan
On Monday, I passed my check ride for solo in green with Chin, and was given a yellow wristband.
Towards the end of the day, a thunderstorm struck. Raindrops the size of tea cups ran rivers of puddles. Because of the lightening, the track closed down.
When it blew over, there were only 30 minutes left for the end-of-day Chin happy hour.
Most of the drivers had found the beer on tap in the Sonic Tools trailer. Only a few cars went out. I wanted to practice with my tires in the wet. About twenty minutes into it, as I drove downhill, Bianca’s tail spun left coming into turn 17 B (aka Hog Pen). I felt it immediately, and reacted to correct the wheel, but my input was insufficient.
When I looked up I saw the tire wall.
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I remember thinking I had to move my eyes to where I wanted the car to be, and shifting my gaze to the asphalt. She spun a double 360, and it wasn’t until I was back on the asphalt that I remembered “two feet in”. On Tuesday I drove. Also in the rain. By 2pm, I had logged 9+ hours on track in four days. I was spent.
I didn’t know it just then, but a part of me had decided to retire my sweet lovely 911 from track. I asked a stranger to take a few photos, then I packed up my car.
Arriving home, the puppies were excited to see me. One of the kids was fixing a Velveeta cheese dip. I found evidence of attempts at laundry. While I pondered dinner, my Big T walked in. It was good to be home.
I can’t imagine what it will be like without Bianca. She has been the force that connected me to track driving. Right now, she is sitting in the garage smudged with track dirt and a bit of residual glue from racers tape. I have not yet unloaded her completely. I am in the process of finding a replacement track car. She has to retire, but I cannot.
Back when I started out, I remember someone saying “Your little white 911 is the best teacher you’ll ever have on track.”
They were right. Thank you Bianca.
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Although we didn’t know it at the time, this is my last track photo with Bianca.

Poky–But NOT Hokey.

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There is nothing in this world like Road Atlanta.

Ah!  Road Atlanta.  Like a lover, only so much sweeter. I am still on a high.

Who would have imagined that I would get there in 2015? The plan had been in 2021. But the scoffing of Swami, the finger-wagging of Vader, and the gently smiling sweet encouragement of my Big T gave me heart and courage. Yes, me.

Phase I : Get to Braselton
April 26–Sunday prior to leaving I packed the car. Also it was Big T’s birthday. Even 22 years later, at the thought of him I just can’t help my goofy grin. Is that normal?
April 27–Monday: Work and try to breathe.
April 28–Tuesday: Same, but also get the Diva ready for 3 day field trip, get my chipped crown repaired, and wrap Cufflinks’ birthday gifts.
 April 29–Wednesday: 18th Birthday! Legal voting age! Drop off baby Diva EARLY am at school, birthday dinner, gifts etc. Try to breathe.
So it was a bit more serious than I had thought.
So it was a bit more serious than I had thought.
 April 30–Thursday: Taking emergencies, students packed in. Cannot breathe. Leave work for urgent care. Oxygen, nebulizer, steroids and rest. Seventeen hours later, Bianca and I begin southward. Practicing driving fast. The officer who stopped us was very kind and did not incarcerate me. And he subtracted 30 mph when writing the citation. I was trembling and crying for fear he may shoot me. Remember the steroids? Psychosis is a known side effect.
May 1–Friday: Writing furiously. Arson case in court Tuesday. Resting, breathing. Unexpected bonus: a desk in hotel room. Swimming. SwamiMike arrives! Happy to see him and the handsome #8. The last time we had met was before we became friends– and I felt such joy (remarkably, no awkwardness) at finally meeting my bud.
Mr. and Mrs. Swami living out in the sticks (according to their website).
Mr. and Mrs. Swami enjoying a pastoral life.

Phase 2: A Wish Come True

At 5pm, we headed for track to register and tech. “Bad news” Swami said, his eyes twinkling. “I’m your instructor. And we begin your instruction tonight.”  He poured two drinks and pulled out a 3-Ring binder.  We began a Track Walk.

Meticulous and serious. Just like Swami.
Meticulous and serious. Just like Swami.

A perfect evening. Gentle breezes rolling over the deep green tree-covered hills, and a quiet track. Background sounds wafting over: cars setting up and trailers unloading. The air felt dream-like amid the bird-song soundtrack. The slowly westward arcing sun warmed my skin.

Swami has the most track decals I have ever seen! He must have been a very good boy.
Swami has the most track decals I have ever seen! He must have been a very good boy.
 Swami began to describe the topography of the turns. Eagerly, I drank in each word as he flipped through to show aerial image after image of each turn. Each one was detailed, with the perfect driving line drawn in red pencil. Meticulously he had marked out the apex, turning point, braking point and track out path.  Seeing the turns from another angle was an eye-opening experience. I am ashamed to say that, in my ignorance, I naively responded “Sure. I can do that” when he described which curbing to touch and which gators to avoid.We got into his truck and began a perimeter drive of the track. Stopping and getting out at each turn, Swami explained the track. His relaxed pace, friendly manner, and sharing of historic anecdotes set me at ease. Would you believe me if I told you Swami remembers EVERY single crack on the track? And could tell where there was a new one?
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Saturday after my only good session all day, there were a few moments of smiles.

Phase 3: Grass Handed to Me.

I did try to practice going fast in the straights by speeding during my drive into Braselton. As mentioned, I got stopped by an officer when I was cruising at XXmph. He let me off easy. It will be the cost of a track weekend essentially and I have already ‘fessed up to my sweetie BigT. What did I get out of it? Well: I know I can DO IT!
I struggled with basics on the first day. Sheer frustration at discovering that my brain had frozen in the face of the Esses. Did I no longer know how to downshift? Indeed, I did not. Poor Swami had to remind me. The famous combination of goofiness, cluelessness and optimism had failed me.
The second day I got in a couple of decent sessions. Consistency was at about 65% by the end of the weekend, and speed was still flagging. Wish I could have shown that to the cop.

Lots of damage was happening: SwamiMike called it a “crashfest”. I found driving with Chin was another ballgame entirely. The other cars in my

#8 and Bianca at Road Atlanta paddocks
Swami is a very fast driver: his car is a Porsche 911 (997.2 S). He is an outstanding coach. Here are #8 and Bianca at Road Atlanta paddocks.

green run group were: 5 (FIVE!) ferraris, 1 maclaren, 1 aston martin, 1 maserati, 1 mazda, 2 M3’s and 2 or 3 caymans.

SwamiMike was disapproving of the lack of speed, but continued to encourage me. He recorded one session using his Gopro on my car. I could see my mistakes much more clearly. However, I continued to repeat them and we were both a bit deflated by the end of the weekend.
By last run Sunday, Swami says: “That was a good session. We didn’t come out under the bridge at the same point twice any single time.” I reminded him I was not in the “gifted and talented” program. I scored a D+ on the Chin grading scale.
Unsurprisingly, my sweet Bianca was the only one who shone. SwamiMike said “I’m very impressed with your car”.
Team Ferari. I tried again but the bunny ears trick only worked once.
Team Ferari. Long story. Search for “Enzo’s Dream” on YouTube.

Road Atlanta was a thrilling, challenging, and addictively fun course! I think I did sub-okay overall. I am not proud of my performance. But I learned the line. And was able to remain intact on  an unforgiving track, in unforgiving car, on my first event there. There were many others that weekend who did not.

 Phase 4: Drive Trophy Home
Keith and Micki Madison from Goldcrest Motorsports. Lifesavers!
Keith and Micki Madison from Goldcrest Motorsports. Lifesavers!
And, thanks to the heroic efforts of Mickie and Keith Madison of Goldcrest Motorsports in Kennesaw, GA, Bianca’s worn out rear brake pads and rotors were replaced! Within a hour, they had the parts. Keith himself, renowned for working on  pro-racer cars, was so incredibly good to my Bianca and worked on her himself.
When I told him what happened, Swami said: “All that braking”. He was right.
I was happy to drive my beloved Bianca home. I love her.  And I’ll be back at Road Atlanta in June with Vader.

Pyrexia and Palpitations.

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There are things that I love about winter: Christmas cards, starlit morning jogs and wearing PJs all day. Kiddies snooze, raining outside. Daylight emerges and I’m snuggled up with Buddy the puppy. Guilt-ridden as usual: should be calling mother, washing Bianca, cleaning for houseguests… But, for the last 4 hours I’ve been thinking about …. Oh gee! What a surprise!

Ahem….. Now, I just really want winter to go away please so that I can concentrate on learning how to use the R888s.  How will she handle pulling out of turn 1 at VIR? What grip will I feel braking hard left into 4? Will I better manage tail exiting uphill to turn 14?

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Track junkies know this: you can stop yourself from going to track, but you cannot stop your mind from going there. (Any denial is just a polite untruth.) 148762_10204603104096182_2055781425093791747_n

Wondering: Is there any way on earth I can somehow sneak off to Road Atlanta with Vader and Tex without Big T or kids noticing? Agggghhh! It’s killing me. Tex posted a thread on the Hurricanes page. Talking about RA. Lots of good advice from Greenfrog, GillesV, and ProCoach along with some exciting videos by Randy Pobst being shared.  Answer: I cannot go. And I cannot stop thinking about turn 12.petit

For the past 6 months my water-cooled Porsche buddies have been in full cry: Your car is not right for track!  “Why?” I ask.

Unanimous reply: You’re spending so much energy battling the car you’ll never learn to drive!  It’s too difficult to handle!

Truth be told, I do have doubts about continuing to track Bianca, but for different reasons. Mostly related to worries about her safety. It is clear to me that Ron treated her with kid gloves.  The worldwide ummah of air-cooled Porsche lovers know the value: Bianca is entirely original. Many owners of these out-of-production bullet-proofed engine gems have had to restore their cars, splicing them with parts and vin numbers from others.

But am I going to pick an easier car? For my ego or speed? Will I take my dear friend Vader’s advice?

Duh. Guess again. I am FastDriverMom….Mom is code word for “I have no ego left, and because of that I am more powerful than I ever was before. Stubborn as heck.”

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I love that she is really a difficult car to drive, just like (someone I know) is a difficult woman to love.  I adore that Bianca’s torsion bar suspension makes turning the wheel at speed on track require all the strength of arms and torso, and every nerve impulse of my conscious thought. Her nervous 915 transmission requires that I delicately insinuate my way into 2nd gear via a sticky negotiation of sweet-talking the synchros into position. Her prodigious clutch demands my left leg take charge: smooth on, firmly in, smooth off.  Sometimes, because I am so short, I have to lift my rear off the seat to floor it in.

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By the end of a track day every sensation is sweating and alive. My musculature is reduced to a pulpy mush of creatine phosphokinase. For me, by far, the greatest joy in track driving is in learning how to manage this difficult car. Speed will come in time.

Because of the blood, sweat, and tears I put into driving Bianca, I drive as my authentic self. Stupid right? Yup. Every one of my instructors will prove witness to the gory mess I become.

I cannot go to Road Atlanta, or Roebling or Watkins or Cota or Mid-Ohio just now.  And, thankfully, I can’t stop my mind from going there. My brain is singing and tingling under the joy of the pre-frontal cortex dopamine rush! Yes, just by imagining it. My skin is warm, pyrexic. Feverish! Yes, and palpitations too.

I Solemnly Swear that I am Up to No Good

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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).

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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.

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20141115-DSC_5305  (Ms. B DeWeiss)

20141115-DSC_5367 20141115-DSC_5371   (RedStrap’s beast)

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.9YdyBniCRRO2os-gnLzWUmw0_Zr-AJXeYwDF1asymEM,3deEOP0bWIuniq9j-k7qr2vZIqCFVTHNxoHAB8xRmRM,KyzosRBwRh-fnT0SHdkwYtzu2ey9hXNLTOYFl-08LjY

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.


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                                                                (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. YsfXK77LI6giJwGqzrv8nn5O4unndfakvWNQYhMx7Bc,OY5Fe0P05z-D8JjLZfNi0dDl-rNmw0tKuFOPtJpxm0s,r5WqDSE-O4I9fo-xjdqDc8NaTMN_t1cxd8tZFpMAo8E

Who could possibly ask for more?       hYKfBpOCqSljmaa4Kho6hcBmP4NR979iO3sgmNhsWPI,7_lKiGAZU5lEdNbpBJb0TuWh_pW5Hk2_TKphwf8i8UM,dCuSQlDOw55zsMLx5tfAAxz3SAk4miCIc0Ttam5ZJFENext up: Ladies Only.