There was a question posted on facebook this morning. It said, “Do you remember your first drag race?” I sure do.
Drag Racing consumed my life from the age of 8-17. It was a family affair. I started first, dad got the car, i drove it, he worked the magic. My little brother started when he turned 8. He got my old car, i got a new one, and it went from there. My little brother graduating into a new car my dad hand-built, my mom getting a 70’s camero and racing that. My dad had it dialed! We won so many weekends, sometimes my brother and i going 1 and 2 straight up both saturday and sunday. We were a team, always working together, letting each other win to secure a track title for the season. We battled it out. I loved it. Cars, breaking rules by going to fast, running perfect runs. You name it, we had a blast.
I had this car. I remember picking it up in my dad’s black pick-up. It was legally too long to be in the bed of the truck, but we broke the law, like all people do, and hauled it down to the shop anyways. It had the most hideous picture of beauty and the beast on it. In a maroon disgusting color. Beauty had the biggest buck teeth you could ever imagine. It was the first thing that had to go. Dad gave it a new paint job, changed the upholstery, and i couldn’t wait to go.
But my first race. I remember pulling up to the track. I remember where we parked, right next to the staging lanes. I remember going back to back to back, running down the track. I would do time trials by myself, because i was 8 years old and it was my first time racing the car. My mother was terrified. My father, i imagine was ecstatic.
I remember not being able to turn off the track. My mother would run down to the 1/4 mile turn off for the juniors and when i didn’t make the turn, she would lift the front of the car up and scoot me over so i made the turn, or if that didn’t work, push me back, push me forward, push me back, etc etc until i could make it. I was a beauty pageant girl turned drag racer in about one run.
One distinct moment was me saying, “Dad the brakes don’t work. I can’t stop”. He checked them out, they seemed fine, until that one run, when i flipped a u-turn in the staging lanes to get right back in, pulled up behind a car, and BAM! crashed right into the back of it. Haha. Well, that person turned out to be Vern, a man that turned out to be a great friend.
I was crying, most likely. I don’t exactly remember my reaction, but i do know that was the end of my driving for the day. But my first race…it seems so long ago. I remember losing once, dad pulled me back to the trailer, and my new friends, (aka the man i crashed into the back of, and the people he “hung out with” at the track) came up to my car, and i wouldn’t get out. I didn’t want to be done. I didn’t want to lose. I was 8 years old, hooked on racing cars, and i was not happy. But that’s what it took. That’s what kept me wanting to race.
That year i went to Junior Nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana. I didn’t do well, but it was quite an experience. Traveling with my family was a blast. Things went wrong, things went right, but we were together, happy, loving life, living it to the fullest. My parents spent so much time, money, hard-earned dollars they worked not 5-8, but 24/7 for, with their own business, taking time off to support my favorite thing. And then we all started doing it.
Between running the cars in the shop, smelling the fumes of cherry scented ethanol mix, and the smell of the burn-outs, my hearing and sense of smell is probably that of a 60 year old chronic smoker, but i don’t care. Those are some of the greatest moments of my life. Memories i will never forget, and i will pass on, even though they are not going to be the same to those that i tell them too.
Thinking of that question i read, it brings back so many of those memories. But it doesn’t matter that you can’t relate, that you weren’t there, because when my family comes together, we have things to laugh about, things to make more memories with, and more love than one person can endure.