Many years ago in a land far away from the mid-west, and when I was much younger (about 14), I would tag along with my Uncle Tom and his friend Bill Chambers to go “crew” at the SCCA road races. We’d travel to several different tracks around the southeast, Roebling Road, Charlotte Motor Speedway (yes, they have a road course) and Road Atlanta. My favorite. Apparently I’m not alone, according to their website they glean 330,000 visitors each year from 33 states and 18 countries!
I LOVE the smell of racin’ fuel, and rubber. Mixed with good ole red Georgia clay…oh yeah!
So, I crewed…basically that involved me with a stop watch, a piece of chalk and a little chalkboard climbing over the first guard rail, and running across pit road to lean over the 2nd guard rail holding out the chalkboard with times for them as they went by on the front straight.
I believe radios have made that action somewhat obsolete…
We’d go as spectators to the Run-offs. I got to see Paul Newman race more than once. He had the coolest Datsun Z car, and he could drive as well as he could act. In fact he was National Champion in his class along with some other names you might recognize. Mark Donohue, Scott Sharp, and probably the most famous next to Newman, Roger Penske.
Newman racing his #33 Datsun
I had a dream. I wanted to drive Road Atlanta someday. Unfortunately, Uncle Tom sold his white Toyota Corolla and Bill sold his white MG (sister not twins) and I grew up and moved on.
Years later, I met someone that auto-crossed. Then I met some road-racers. Summer Sunday’s were spent going the race track or auto-crossing.
Here I am at the Knoxville Dragstrip probably around 1990?? I had just hit the guard rail and done a 360. My friend Roe saw what was happening and I landed perfectly for this shot.
But more importantly, I went back to Road Atlanta…
AHHHHHH the smell of racin’ fuel, rubber and Georgia clay. My dream was still alive. One weekend (Must have been the run offs) the officials opened up the track for spectators to drive. I had ridden down with some friends in a TOWN CAR! But I did finally get to ride around the track, lol.
I kept going to the races and auto-crossing until I was saved.
I felt God saying I was done, and I stopped.
But I still had this huge dream and Shane knew about it.
A few years ago several members of my family including, Shane, my Daddy, Mom, in-laws,and all 4 children pitched in and bought me a 3 hour driving school experience with the Skip Barber school at ROAD ATLANTA!!!!!!!
I CRIED! I couldn’t believe it! I was going back to RA one last time to drive an open wheel formula car!
And I did!
On pit road. I was so nervous I couldn’t remember how to put on a 5 point harness.
As we started moving down pit road, I was near tears. Nervous, excited and overwhelmed…
but once I was headed up the hill into turn 1…it was all good!
Of course, they had regulators on the throttles, but I hit top speed along the back straight! 160 mph and it felt SO good! I ROCKED it baby! With my darling husband, 4 kids, Daddy and Uncle Joe, who lives near Road Atlanta, cheering me on along with the wives/girlfriends of the other 15 guys.
Some things never change–I was still the lone female.
I can never thank my family, especially my wonderful husband for helping me fulfill my lifelong dream!