It’s about 7am Sunday morning, and I’m crying. Last night was my first race ever. And it sucked. Now here I am trying to go over it all in my head, but I was so overcome with anxiety I can’t remember much. I can hear John snoring in his bed on the other side of the motor home, and I’m trying not to wake him.
The man drank his fair share last night, and who can blame him? Married to a crazy who has pushed for years to get on the track and drive, and then had one of the worst days ever. His biggest concern about me driving was my lack of knowledge – also known as experience – on a dirt track. And that the lack there of was going to get me put into a wall. I was just sure I could do it and be good at it. I was a hell of a driver OTR and shamed many of men with my trailer backing skills. (because that is so important when you are going to race on a dirt track…)
He had told me he was going to get in my car first and make sure it was all safe and good to do. But by the time we got to the track, it was all such a fiasco with having 2 cars there, and something was wrong with his car. So it came time to mud in (this is where after they water the track, they send as many cars onto the track as they can to help work the water into the dirt/clay mixture until the track get’s tacky. This starts out as total snot, and is like driving on ice.) and John looks at me and says “get in.” The wave of panic came over me and my ears started to ring and I thought I was going to throw up. I know he had to have seen the complete terror in my eyes, but true to form, he was as calm as ever.
I’m sure it was about 110 degrees outside that day, and then I put on a flame suit, helmet and gloves, and strapped myself into my little purple 3:16. All I can remember about that first time in the car was trying not to cry so I could see, and how it felt like I was driving in snot and it was everything I could do to keep the car going forward. We ere only going 15mph – maybe. I was also just sure that everyone in the stands and in the pits was watching me and pointing and laughing. The not so funny truth is that I still feel that way every time I get in the car. Truth is: 99% of the people there don’t know who the hell I am nor do they care…
I made it through my heat race and got lapped by the other cars, and same scenario in my main event. I can’t tell you anything else that happened in those races, I honestly don’t remember a thing. At camp that night a fellow racer called from another track to see how I did. He laughed at me. I don’t think he was trying to be mean, but I sat at the camp fire and cried. Humiliated. For years I had heard all these guys talk shit about rookies, and now I was one of them. It must have tore my husband up from the inside out to watch me go through all that in one day. I’m sure all he wanted to do was beg me to stop so neither one of us would have to go through it again.
Instead he woke up that Sunday morning with his wife crying about it. He held me and listened to me blubber on about how bad it sucked, and how I didn’t like it. What was I going to do!? I had sold so much advertising on the car! I had told so many people about me driving! So many people thought I was cool because of it! I’m going to let people down! The world as we know it depends on me driving that car and loving it and being good at it!!!
He calmly told me we would figure it out. He told me I didn’t have to drive if I didn’t want to. He told me he would drive the car to fulfill the agreements with my advertisers. He told me all of this with sincere love and caring for my physical and emotional well being. For no other reason than to comfort his wife as she sat and sobbed for reasons he did not understand.
To this day I don’t like it, and neither does John (it’s not that new of a thing to me, I don’t like much of anything I’m not good at) And to this day John looks at me every time I get in that car and his eyes say “I believe in you”.