…or the race seat, as it were.
Back in April, I had these dreams of grandeur that staying away from racing would make getting back on my feet easier. There’s a reason they are called dreams (or nightmares, rather), because every time I saw race results on Facebook, or in SCCA press releases, I was instantly depressed. While I’d found some other crafty things to do, and traveled to some truly amazing places, the racing bug had been eating away at me since the spring.
A visit from a DC region friend, a “F the world, I am a panda” attitude, and a very generous offer from a good friend led me to get back into the race seat in mid-October. I wasn’t as fast as I’m used to, but I still didn’t suck 🙂
Despite a setback with some unexpected challenges showing up, it was a good day. I had a lot of fun and I needed the reminder of why I do things like this: The challenge, the competition, the camaraderie, the adrenaline…I’d been away for far too long. So two weeks later, when the last event of the season rolled around, I once again ended up in the S2000’s driver’s seat.
Feeling more confident and feeling welcomed back into the community the second time around made the day a lot better, even though it was cold and raining for the first half. I ran the car in an empty class (if I’m going to attend an event, I want a guaranteed trophy for my $30 entry fee!), and I was truly competing with only myself. Even though I wasn’t actually racing against anyone, the technical aspects, figuring out the nuances of the car, relearning the idea that the rule of percentages is actually a theory I learned from driving…it was all there. Even discussing car setup, to the point where I stopped myself and asked, “Where did that come from? Who am I?” In the beginning, I used to just repeat what I heard, but after a decade, I guess the actual physics and theories sunk in and I can now speak intelligently about them. Go fig.
And all of it paid off, because I ended up skirting the owner, bu 0.25 seconds, and nearly grabbing the fastest time of day. I know there were factors in my favor, but it was a sweet, sweet victory, and exactly how I needed to end the race season.
Then, I began to wonder. What kept me away for so long? Didn’t I love racing? Didn’t I miss it? Why hadn’t I just relied on my friends, and trusted that they’d still be around? Of course I love racing, and of course I missed it. And with my travels this year, financing a full season would have been tough, let alone finding a consistent ride, and consistent friends, that wouldn’t cause drama based on what became a nasty split last year. And I certainly didn’t want to have to choose, or force others to choose as well. What it came down to was that I was afraid. Yes, that is exactly as pathetic as it sounds. I let other people dictate how I could spent my money, my leisure time, and let them make me think I wasn’t welcomed, or missed, or that it was even noticed I wasn’t there. I was afraid of what people might think, or what they did think, or what I thought they thought…even typing this makes me a little angry with myself.
Perhaps I did need a break from that life, and perhaps I did need a little time away so that the dust could settle. I think the dust has settled, and next year will bring a new season, new cars, and hopefully a new region. After the last two events, I think I could go back to racing, and while it would be a little awkward at first, in the end, I’d be doing something I loved, and I’d finally be doing it on my own and for myself. No pressure, no expectations, just challenging and enjoying myself, for the sake of me. I can’t ask for much more than that.