Until now, my performance driving experience has consisted of everything from squirming through autocross and rallycross cones in parking lots throughout the Mid-Atlantic region to track-day lapping and time trials on some of the finest road courses in the area to “brisk” time-speed-distance and high-speed stage rally through some truly insane backwoods goat paths in the pitch black of a Pine Barrens winter night. But never did I feel the urge to go door-to-door racing, vying with other drivers for the same small piece of asphalt while we all simultaneously hurtle through time and space toward that mythical ideal lap and the tall, busty blonde holding the giant trophy just beyond the checkered flag at the finish line.
I can’t say specifically what triggered it: perhaps it’s the fact that the next anniversary of my first trip around the Sun will mark half a C-note and I’m feeling the hot breath of Father Time scorching down my not-so-longer-immortal neck, from which no thickness of Nomex can protect me; perhaps it’s that I’ve always known deep down inside that this was inevitable and finally got tired of waiting; perhaps it’s the camaraderie of my fellow SCCA South Jersey Region or NJMP Drivers Club members, whose irresistible enthusiasm and encouragement swept me to this point; perhaps it’s simply a business decision, knowing that the growth of my career in motorsports would always be limited without demonstrable success as evidence of my abilities for prospective clients; perhaps it’s the unfailing support of my beautiful Wife, who sees what I am as it comes out in a coaching session with a student about the ideal line and I delight in watching that student’s confidence build and their lap times fall, and she digs it.
Regardless of the impetus, I am on my way to obtaining a competition driving license that will open the door for me to a very exclusive fraternity: Andretti, Donohue, Earnhardt, Fangio, Foyt, Moss, Petty, Prost, Schumacher, Senna, Shelby, Vettel. At some point, every one of them stood exactly where I stand now, a rank rookie just getting his eyes opened to the cold, hard reality of the racing world (although most of them were a good bit younger at the time and most likely a lot better funded, but I won’t get into that just now). It’s not about fame or fortune – most of them would rather have been left alone to enjoy their passion in peace, and the old adage about how to make a small fortune in racing (start with a large fortune) has always held true. It’s about precision, discipline, focus, imagination, inventiveness, diligence, preparation, perseverance, conquest. Nailing every apex on a perfect lap, waiting for the proper moment to make a pass, pushing out the mind’s clutter and distraction, finding a better line to give you the edge, exploiting the rules to gain advantage, managing the equipment for an entire stint, dotting every last “i” and crossing every last “t” long before you arrive the day of the event, working through the problems that will inevitably arise, and finally, eventually, champagne in Victory Lane.
Photos courtesy of Terry Hall Photography