The last few years have been a whirlwind of poop things like feeling like I was making progress in my life attending college, exercising regularly and intentionally, fighting long held beliefs and limitations on myself, deep serious depression, anxiety ADHD, dropping out of college, loneliness, and tons of other crap mixed with some bits of good.
I managed over the last few months to collect enough money to get some summer tires I found for a steal, a motorcycle helmet on like triple clearance, and enough to pay the SCCA and Local chapter registration. I filled my car with fuel and packed a few tools and some water and peanut butter sandwiches. I was up at 5:30am with near zero sleeps due to excitement and terror about my first time doing this thing I have wanted to do for maybe 20 years.
I was like the 3rd one in the parking lot and was alone and had no idea what I was doing. Having gone for a canyon blast I knew my car was well sorted and full of all the required liquids, but what about me? Was I going to make a fool of myself trying too hard to be badass and spin into a light pole? I kept telling myself to just relax have fun and take it one step at a time. How the heck am I going to remember and entire course after walking it once? Will all the cones I slam into tear apart my car rip off a brake line and send me careening into a curb and flip into a tree?
It was still dark overcast and the clouds were so low as more and more cars kept parking and people started unloading trailers. WRX, Camaro Corvettes and Miatas added to the Porsches and Mustangs. I started seeing faces and it occurred to me maybe these are just normal people not intense jerks who will laugh if I spin out or fail tech. I was too excited and nervous to just sit in my car so I got out and walked over near the officials trailer but not too near I don’t want to bother or hurry someone. I started to get impatient and went back to my car.
It starts getting light out but in a weird way not like seeing the sun come up over the mountains but more like being in a room and someone slowly turns on the dimmer switch and you can’t tell where the light is coming from. People start opening trunks and taking things out and claiming their own little spots to put all the jumper cables air tanks and helmets in their own neat little piles by their cars. I realize I should start doing the same so I fill my two boxes near my car and at least now my car is ready as I put my helmet in the car I hear a friendly female voice announce over the PA that check ins will be starting. I check in and then walk back to my car and tape some numbers and letters on my car. Not long after we are all walking the course and i am listening intently to the guide telling us what the cones mean and give some tips about turning and make sure we brake before elevation changes, and I am cursing the people talking to each other. How are they not listening to everything our guide is saying? trying to glean every bit of wisdom from this guy who has done this before and generously trying to help us useless fools? I walk the course hyper focused trying to remember everything the pocket on the front of my hoodie hiding my hands imitating what I want them to do on the steering wheel. I feel like there are not so many cones as I thought there would be and start to think maybe this wont be so disorienting navigating a sea of orange plastic cones.
I sit in my car and wish I could just get it out there like some shameful secret I feel some stupid need to confess that this is my first time. It’s sorta lonely, but glad I don’t have to talk to someone and end up saying something dumb or rude due to my lack of sleep.
My car passes tech and now I am in the grid. Its so cool being able to say things like that. It feels so cool and purposeful to put on a helmet. It means something cool is happening. Welding helmet, BMX racing helmet, hard hat, auto racing helmet, helmets mean good crap is going on and whenever I needed a helmet before things are being built adventures are in store or focused progress is happening. Its nearing my turn to go out for my first lap of my first autocross. Do I just wait to be told when to head out do I need to follow the same car every group? I am actually less nervous now and just want to go out there and see how well I remember the course and get that first slow lap out of the way. I was slow and I really took it to heart when our guide told us to take the first one slow and just try to follow and memorize the course. I don’t remember much of that first lap except that it wasn’t so difficult and I didn’t hit a cone but did manage to not see what time I ran. I later learn that my first lap is the second slowest of the day. At least I am not last. I get through my second lap the same except I am actually trying this time. Sweeping turns are fun trying to keep the grip and maintain speed but man are slaloms scary when those cones are coming at you. How did I not smash every one of them with my right front tire? I start getting comfortable with this whole thing and start looking to improve and watching other cars and trying to compete. I realize as I get off the course that I am thrilled and out of breath. I have to shut the car off and take of my helmet and stand for a second or two. I realize everyone else is doing this as well.
I manage to take fourteen seconds off between my first and second laps and then I am four seconds faster than last and then I start taking of two seconds here one second there. Man does it feel so good. At our lunch break eating my peanut butter sandwich I am just so grateful to feel so alive to be able to check something off my bucket list and be able to experience things like this. It feels good to be proud of myself to do and achieve. I lay back on the grass and doze off.