Monday, June 1, 2015

Back on Track, Baby!

We'll return to our regularly scheduled program (Panama posts) after this message.

I love Autocross! 
Honest to God!! It's crazy scary and crazy fun.
I've missed it and am so happy to be back at the track. I'm still a COMPLETE novice but having the most amazing time, once again.
Fun & Fear! I'd forgotten just how well they play together.

I wait in the grid of cars, lined up and ready. Behind the wheel of my running car, helmet strapped, inching forward as my turn approaches. The car in front of me pulls up to the start and ...... GOES!
My turn. Shit.
"Are you ready?" says Colin or Darren or Chris.
"Yes," I say. Because, well.... what else am I going to say?
In my head, for the next 40-some seconds, my thoughts chant, "Faster, faster, faster! Just go, go, go. get to the finish. FASTER!" Then as I cross the finish line and brake as hard as I can in order to avoid that line of cones fast approaching, I think, "Dang, that was the finish." It's over.
But then I get to drive back around, line up in the grid and go again. To see if I can go even faster next run. Sweet!

The only tiny, little sad thing about track day is that I don't get any pictures of my runs. When you're participating in Autocross, you do not get to take pictures of this cool experience. You're either driving or you're working the course. Either way, you do not get to stop and take pictures of your favorite cars and drivers, the friends you're making. And what's even less likely is that you'll be able to get pictures of your own runs. Sad.

Through a roundabout way, however, I do know there are some pictures of me driving but the photographer and I have yet to connect so I can get his okay to use some. When I get them, I'll post here. Because frankly, I won't be able to help myself.

Photo documentation is historically an important part of my life. But I haven't done much in the way of picture taking for the past year or so. And I can't really explain that.
I mentioned this to another driver, who, like me, is relatively new to the group. I call him Benicio, for obvious reasons. I express my desire for shots of my car running the course. He also has a nice camera and says he completely understands. We are in agreement and make a pact: next time we're at Track Day together, we'll each sit out to photograph the other during their run. Some glossy 8x10s. His sleek, chromed Audi. My Velocity Red Mazda. Our own version of sexy glamour shots!
Zoom, zoom.

Fortunately, I did manage to grab a few shots of the Fun Run at the end of the day. Fun Run, where all runs are for fun and all cones are killed. (No course workers to resurrect them between runs.)

Very quickly, as I have just a brief moment and few pictures. "A word from our sponsors."

Compared to the little zippy cars, the Mustang looks so big. Tank-like. A burly big brother and not nearly as maneuverable as the little guys. But Mike's Mustang (not pictured here) kicked my ass in the first c-box on the course, every single time!

The GT-R and driver received a lot of adulation and attention. I asked George what was special about this car. He mentioned something about it being the Ironman (or some other superhero) of sports cars. 
A $100,000 Nissan. 

Our location.  
Coming from all over Western Washington, some of the participants drive a couple hours to race. 
I'm lucky; it's just a short drive from my house.

In my rookie Autocross opinion (and I do have one), the Minis and the Mazdas (especially little red ones) seem perfectly designed for Autocross.

I climb into the Mini for a ride with Chris. Michelle leans in before we take off. Something about Chris liking it when you giggle. What?
My feet braced hard against the firewall, holding one handle over my head with white knuckles, my other hand gripping the edge of the seat next to my thigh. 
I am completely silent during the entire course, but the instant we cross the finish line, I squeal like a Beatles' fan when the band first landed on American soil. I rave about what a blast it is and pummel Chris with my thanks, explaining that I have to use Lamaze breathing when I'm riding along in the Mini. He thinks I'm kidding him. 
But I'm not. 
Seriously: "Hee, hee, hee. Hoo, hoo, hoo. Hee, hee, hee."

Michelle ends up with the best time of the day! No surprise to anyone.

One of my instructors: George.

George would be the first to tell you, this course didn't favor his sleek, black Volvo. But he was fun to ride with. 

Here's the deal: I know a lot of words, but for the life of me, I can't seem to arrange them in such a way as to accurately articulate how amazing Autocross is. 

Seriously, the most incredible way to spend a weekend! 
To my two instructors last weekend: VW Chris and Volvo George. 
Thanks guys!! Love, ~ 'Autocross Barbie!'

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