I don’t even want to joke by saying, “Thank you COVID-19,” because I respect the disease and mourn the people it has taken from me. But it is, in a big way, responsible for me unpacking and dusting off an old passion: driving.
Let me explain! Lots of awfulness came together at the same time, piling on more pressure than I have ever felt at once. First, there was political mayhem and racial atrocities. Next COVID-19. The pandemic created a whole new set of problems including work stress, family stress, and the loss of my hip hop and workout classes (physical outlets). All of this in addition to the change in lifestyle – including isolating at home, loss of social interaction, and loss of human touch caused anxiety, depression, and anger, no… RAGE. I still feel all of these things daily and I struggle to find ways to manage them. I never envisioned myself in this mental space, but it has given me a newfound sense of empathy.
I have always been an aggressive driver but I’m really, REALLY angry on the road these days – so angry that I have to take an alternate route through country roads to prevent a conniption. And woe be to the person doing the speed limit in front of me (and to Dixie’s hood and fenders) when I’m in a no-pass situation. Driving is also something I’ve always taken great pleasure in… so finding myself angry on the road feels like I’ve been robbed of more happiness. This is when I texted my friend Ian and said, “Ian, I need to drive my car fast.”
Ian races (raced – another story) a 2016 GT3RS Porsche at Eagle’s Canyon Raceway and has offered to coach me. He was ready to take me out to the track and have me drive my 10th generation Honda Civic Si as fast as I could. Sadly, I was still worried about COVID-19 so I didn’t want to be in a car with anyone. Still, I toyed with this idea and started mentioning it to friends. It was then that I learned about autocross: the perfect socially distant sport! As an added bonus, my car (named Dixie Normous because of who I become when I drive her) is one of the best cars for autox!
HOLD ON TO YOUR ASSES… because when I get this excited about something it’s incredibly hard to contain myself. I looked up what autocross is and saw all of these cars driving nimbly though a series of cones on a track. THAT’S what I wanted. Also it’s way cheaper in the grand scheme of things. (I’ve unfortunately been bitten on the ass by a very expensive hobby.) I signed myself up immediately for the next available race which was a week later. This was all happening so fast! That was back in November of 2020, at the end of the season.
It started with the Lone Star BMW CCA. It turns out there are several clubs that host autocross events at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie. It’s a horse racing track among other things and we get one of their big, glorious, empty parking lots! BMW autox events are very well managed and small with usually 65 or so people signing up and this is nice because you get more runs!
At autocross events you don’t just race: you work the event. There’s a work/run schedule and a series of tasks that you are assigned. Newbs get cone duty. Cars always take out a few cones so our job is to run out and replace the cone quickly before the next car comes barreling through the track. I LOVE working the track because I learn so much watching everyone else. Where are they taking out cones? Where are they losing control? Where are they breaking and where are they punching it? I hate driving in the first heat because I don’t get to take my mental notes.
I was super nervous but everyone was so nice to me. It took this first (and maybe a second) track day to even understand where the cones are directing me. I didn’t do that well but I had a GREAT FREAKING TIME! I got one more race in before the end of the year and did a little better. I’m not going to tell you about every single race but I will share with y’all how quickly this new passion is evolving!
Here are some links so you can see how this stuff all works:
But wait, there’s more craziness! It’s inspiring me do do all kinds of car related art and videos. I’m even working on my own car and insisting that I do everything I can myself! I’m lucky to have two “car guy” neighbors and lots of support from my new friends in the racing circuit! All this stuff will come up soon in more blog posts! It’s all happening so fast I can’t even keep up with myself! Thank you so much for reading!
May you be carried quickly to your destinations, ~S