My First Autocross
Gas. B R A K E.
R A K E. Relief.
Slightly longer version:
(April 25, 2004)
Getting up at four o’clock
in the morning is no small feat for a teenager, but can be managed for certain
occasions. A first sanctioned NCCC race made the occasion list.
Already the promise of going to the race was satisfaction enough. Only getting
my license in January, my mother swore I would not be sufficient enough on stick
shift to be able to race in April. We did not have another manual shift car
other than the Corvette, and my sister’s adventures with learning on it deprived
me of ever getting a chance. One hour, one batch of chocolate-chip cookies, and
a loaned Cavalier later, my mother was proven wrong. I am eternally grateful to
It was the third hour in the
morning and all was quiet in the house. Too excited to sleep, I lay awake
anticipating how my father would react to a car returned in pieces. By the
fourth hour everyone else was awake and ready to go. McDonald’s was nearly
empty at 5:30, with a few abandoned cars and some prospective racers. Familiar
faces stepped out of the purple van and red (really orange by now) Corvette.
The route was chosen, the caravan set off. Driver’s meeting at nine, we were
going to get there at eight. Only daylight savings time made
it seven. No one remembered. An hour of waiting for another person to show up
does not help to calm nerves, but once everyone did arrive it was all smiles,
waves, and lots of encouragement and helpful hints (along with a favorite quote
by Luke: “It’s a car, it was built to be abused”).
After the driver’s meeting,
engines roared. Uncomfortable enough in the overly large seat belt and helmet
that requires some advanced seat uninvited by man for a minute hint of comfort,
I could barely reach the ignition. But before I knew it, I was in line.
The first worker says “1-1-2, 1-1-2” into the black walkie-talkie before waving me on.
Then the starter smiles as he waves me to the timing lights. I let go of the clutch and push on the gas pedal.
Nothing happens. I rolled backwards. For the third time ever, I killed the car. At a race. In front of everyone.
It took a few seconds for the information to sink and attempt to reach the keys.
I couldn’t reach the ignition without moving the seat closer and effectively choking myself in the process.
Finally I was at the lights.
Pictures of a splintered blue car flashed before my eyes as the flag whipped in front of the windshield.
Thinking that I was moving faster than lighting, I took off. Before I knew it I passed the slalom and the timing lights.
Then I went the wrong direction and had to put the car in reverse. Not an easy thing for fairly new drivers,
but reversing along concrete barriers without a rear-view mirror proved to be valuable experience when surrounded by sports cars.
By the end of the second race I was feeling pretty good. After looking at the times I realized that I was more like
a big blue turtle inching around a track during a nap, but it was fun. Four events, two shouting friends, and one re-run
later the day was over. Definitely an experience worth repeating.
During that day the turtle slowly got faster, but it would take quite some time to get within a few seconds of the teacher.
Yes, a few seconds is a lot of time, but I was ecstatic when I went from thirty seconds away to less than ten.
No, that was not on the first day. The closest I got to a respectable time on the first day (or the first year, for that matter)
was when I was a passenger in a fun run.
Badger State Vettes
Amy is shown here at the Midwest Region Awards Banquet in March, 2005
with Cal Camp, MW Region RE after he had presented Amy with her
for finishing in 13th Place in the Ladies 2004 Region Standings