“What sets ... racers apart from less daredevilish mortals is their complete lack of fear and their joy of doing something on the edge. They love to speed because it is dangerous.” ~ Peter Golenbock
My interest in racing---NASCAR style--began in the 1960's, languished for a while, and began again with intensity in the early 90's. I talked about it, gathered autographs and collectibles, and attended races (Rockingham, Charlotte, Darlington and local tracks). My obsession even spilled over to my mother who happened to be in a dentist's office in Charlotte and realized that Chad Little was also there. She waylaid him for an autograph for her daughter. Got to love that! [Ask my girls about an encounter with a racer at Taco Bell to see how crazy their Mom was.]
And then I reached a certain milestone age--and mentioned I wanted to drive for myself. Enter Richard Petty Driving Experience at Charlotte Motor Speedway, June, 1998. I knew I was in trouble when we drove into the infield. The trepidation increased as I put on the driving suit and helmet.And I really did have to crawl through the driver's side window.
So, eight laps. I could do this!
My son-in-law, Mike, (himself an affirmed daredevilish mortal) was in the next car. He was an experienced race car driver (Wake County Speedway). All I had to do was follow Mike around the track---keep him in my sights---I would be fine. Really. The only problem was...
By the time I drove off of the apron and onto the track proper, Mike was nowhere to be seen. As I said, he was an experienced driver already. Those eight laps around the 1.5 mile superspeedway were some of the longest and most terrifying moments of my life. With a death grip on the steering wheel and sheer terror in my gut, I drove.
“You win some, lose some, and wreck some.” ~ Dale Earnhardt---OK, so I never broke 100 mph, but then again, I didn't wreck (which is more than I can say for a former NC governor).
“When I first started racing, my father said, “Win the race as slow as you can.” ~ Richard Petty-- OK, Yes! Lee Petty was right! My philosophy exactly.
“Once you’ve raced, you never forget it…and you never get over it.” ~ Richard Childress---Truth. Am I glad I did? You bet! Would I do it again? Never! I am content to rest in the laurels of being a less daredevilish mortal.
I do, however, get to live vicariously through my grandson's racing experiences. He takes after his Daddy, Mike (see above).