I wanted to switch things up a bit today and tell you about something that many people have never heard of. While most of my life has been consumed with running, I do have another hobby that I unfortunately pushed to the back burner. On and off in the past seven years, I’ve spent a few summer Sundays on the pavement, not running, but racing my car. When I was 15 my dad introduced me to autocross, and well, that was all it took. I spent the whole year waiting for my drivers license, not just because I was excited to drive, I was excited to race.
By definition autocross is “a timed competition where drivers navigate one at a time through a temporary course marked by traffic cones, rather than racing on a track with multiple other cars” I define it as fun. All I wanted for my 16th birthday was a helmet and my race numbers, so much for being a girly girl.
A few days later happened to be the driving school, which my dad highly suggested doing, to make sure I would like this before I started to race. After all I had the helmet, I had to try it out. I also had the optimal car to drive in autocross, a Mazda Miata. I seriously didn’t plan this all out, I didn’t even like my car when I first got it. It’s been a long time since I first got out on the track, but I can guarantee I was nervous. This car was my baby, and these people wanted me to drive around dodging cones, at a semi fast pace? Sign me up for more, I like going fast! My race number was 52ES. E-stock being the category my car fell under and 52, being my lucky number. I had the option of putting “L” at the end, for “ladies” but if you’re going to do this, go all in. I wasn’t the fastest, but I sure had fun, and everyone accepted me. I was also able to beat my dad a few times…around that same time, he stopped going….;)
Over the years, I started feeling more comfortable and would push my car harder and harder, sometimes causing it to spin out, but that was all part of the fun. It was my summer time sport that I looked forward to every year. But once I went to college, my racing wasn’t in autocross, it was in cross country. My freshman year of college, my car was supposedly seeing its final days. The brakes weren’t reliable and it was just too small to take back and forth to school. I upgraded into a bigger 4 door sedan just like everyone else, a Mazda 3, still an eligible car for autocross. I took that year off though, simply for the fear of anything happening to my new car. I finally had the guts to take it out, but only attended one race, and was extremely cautious. I’m pretty sure 80 year old ladies were driving faster than me. Last summer I was ready to really push it hard. The only reason I had the guts…I was in a ditch 6 months early, and knew if my car could save me then, it could handle a few swift turns on the blacktop.
The joy was short lived 😦 I had to get replacement tires this past winter and I’m just not ready to scuff those up yet. But next year, there’s always next year.