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I can hear my heart pounding in my chest. I can’t hear the ****ing engine over the sound of my heart pounding in my chest. Can the crew hear it? Can the people in the grandstands hear it? The fat lady is holding up the 5-second sign. Now she’s lumbering for the pit wall. Green flag! My helmet comes alive “GO! GO! GO! Green Flag! I let the clutch out and bog the engine. The guy beside me lunges ahead and I feel a bump in the rear as the poor bastard behind me taps my bumper. Great way to start my first race.

I slip the clutch and the car accelerates finally, agonizingly slowly, toward turn one. I’ve already lost two positions. I’m struggling to remember my race plan. Maybe I should breathe. I’m on the inside and there is a shape beside me. I know it’s a car but I don’t know who and I don’t care. All I see is the apex. I hit it and the car pushes and then yaws to the right as I bury the throttle and the rear breaks loose. The tail slides out and I feel another bump. I hit somebody. ****! He’s probably going to be pissed off at me.

I’m accelerating and following the car ahead of me. I shift up twice and look for my braking point for turn two. It flashes by before I realize it and I’m braking late, very late, and trying to downshift to second gear. I don’t match the revs and the rear twitches violently. I do nothing and thankfully the car shrugs off my stupidity and takes a set as I turn in. Sweet Jesus it’s actually turning! I may just survive this without being stoned by the crowd.

I’m approaching turn one at the end of lap three and a glance in my mirror tells me I’m about to be lapped by the race leader. ****! Already? Concentrate! What did they tell me? “Hold your line, he’ll figure out how to get by you”. I give him extra room. He’s by in a flash but I ****ed up and gave him too much room. I waited too long to turn in and now the car is pushing, pushing bad. The tires are making that sound they make when they’ve completely given up trying to grip the track. Somebody else goes by me and I go as wide as you can go without going off but the car once again saves my ass and, despite my best efforts to **** things up, it goes around the corner. My momentum is gone, the revs are in the cellar and I feel desperately amateurish as I fish-tail out of the corner. How many more laps?

I’m on the long back straight and starting to settle down and check the gauges, take a drink, and breathe when a sound scares the **** out of me. “You’re in 15th place and 5 seconds a lap off the leader’s pace” says the voice of God. It takes me a second to realize it’s the crew chief (what the **** was his name?) on the radio. “Try and pick up the pace” he continues. Try and pick up the pace? Is this guy for real? I’m working my ass off to keep this motherfucker between the lines and shiny-side up. I think I deserve a little credit here for still being alive and not killing a course worker and this motherfucker wants me to pick up the pace? I fumble for the button on the steering wheel to respond. I barely recognize my own voice. “Okay, I’m working on it” I manage weakly in reply, my voice sounding like a ****ing soprano in the Vienna Boys Choir. Adrenalin stretches your vocal chords. “How’s it handling?” he asks. “Well, it goes around the corners when I turn the wheel” I sing, “but it goes sideways when I hit the gas”. I wanted to say something truly intelligent like “There is a lack of compliance in the transition from steady state cornering to full throttle operation” but my nose is running, snot is clogging my balaclava, and there is sweat in my eyes. “Hang in there” what’s-his-name says, adding “You’re ugly, but I’ve seen worse”.

In the excitement of conducting what amounted to a cell-phone call, I neglected to watch my mirrors. A course worker holds up a stationary blue flag. “Are you talkin’ to me?” I wonder aloud. I look in the mirror and it’s filled with car. By the time I get to the next corner, the blue flag is being wagged at me. I want to let the guy by but where, and how without going off? I remember the advice from driving school “watch the mirrors but don’t drive the mirrors!”. Easier said than done. This guy is all over me like stink on ****. By the next corner the course worker is furiously waving the blue flag at me so I hug the inside line and reach through the window net to point the guy by. As he goes past I am expecting the finger, but he actually waves a ‘thank you’. For a brief instant I feel competent.

There are only five laps to go and I have developed a rhythm of braking, shifting, and accelerating that has resulted in consistent, if not memorable lap times. As a result I’m no longer dropping back and because of attrition have actually begun to move up in the order. The radio comes alive again, once again scaring the **** out of me. “The forty-five car is smoking and he’s off the pace. If you bear down you can gain another position”. The red mist descends over my eyes and I began the relentless stalking of a shark as I braked a little later, apex-ed a little later, and got on the throttle a little earlier. My lap times begin to drop despite the fact that I have turned the tires into greasy shadows of their original selves. I can see the forty-five car ahead. Holy ****! I’m catching somebody! My heart, which had seemed to stop it’s mad pounding only two laps ago, suddenly resumes its kettle-drum booming. I can feel the blood pounding in my ears. I fear that it will blow my earplugs out. I will the car to accelerate and strain forward against my harness. My feet dance across the pedals and the distance closes until I am close enough to pop out from behind him, take the inside line, and out-brake him into one. He conceded the line and I gained the position. It seemed too damned easy. It was. I neglected to see the waving yellow flag until after I passed him. I had to let him by me with a wave through the window net. At least I remembered what they said at the driver’s meeting.

But his car was doomed, and he knew it, so he very sportingly waved me by two corners later (probably convinced that if he didn’t, in my exuberance I would wreck us both) and I motored uneventfully to the checkered flag, and 11th position, 5 laps down. On the cool-down lap I waved to the course workers like Michael Schumacher, the sudden release of performance anxiety making me giddy. I pulled into the paddock and shut the engine off. The silence was eerie and depressing. I climbed from the car soaking wet with both knees badly bruised from bashing the bottom of the panel every time I went for the pedals. The price you pay for sitting close. Funny that I didn’t feel the pain after the first couple of times. Should have listened to the advice to wear knee-pads. My knees were wobbly and I suddenly felt nauseous. Someone thrust a bottle of Gatorade into my hand. I drank like a man dehydrated. I was. I remember thinking “****, that was horrible, I hope they let me do it again”. And then I passed out.
 

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DC Crew
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Wow. Awsome writing. My eyes were glued to the monitor.
 

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DC Crew
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That was fantasic!!!! I have done some circle track racing and I felt like I was back in the car!!! I will never forget how great it felt to finish 7th 1 lap down. Crazy huh?
 

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Thats a pretty wild story. Maybe you should take up writing. :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Really tho, great story. I hate reading long posts, but you kept me into it the whole way. Good luck on your next outing, it'll get better. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Originally posted by Bob88con ...<br>
Maybe you should take up writing. :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:
Strange you should suggest that. I received an email from a magazine editor asking if I could write an article about my experiences renting rides in amateur road racing. They are actually willing to pay money to read about my stranger-than-fiction antics behind the wheel of a car. I thought it was a gag but I called them and they're serious.

Stay tuned.
 
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