The first time I saw a race car in real life, it was in October of 2014. I was standing in downtown Austin, Texas, watching a Red Bull Racing Formula One car do donuts in front of the capitol building of the city I’d moved to just months before. I had no idea how to cope with it. Growing up out in the boons, F1 always seemed like some fancy-schmancy sport, the kind of thing I’d never see with my own two eyes. And there it was, happening right in front of me. It was magic.
I’ll be honest: I shamelessly stole this question from Parker Kligerman, who asked via Twitter a few days ago what our most vivid racing memories were, the ones where you just couldn’t help but think, “Wow.” For me, that’s one of ‘em. Seeing that F1 car for the very first time.
I don’t know what it is about racing, but it constantly has me feeling like a kid meeting Santa Claus for the first time. I went to the US Grand Prix in 2014 thinking it would scratch an itch: If I went to a race, maybe I’d relieve myself of the race car obsession I’d been harboring. And I walked out of that weekend with plans to go to some races in Europe the following year.
And I did. A few of my Internet friends and I flew into Munich and road tripped to Spielberg for the Austrian Grand Prix. We pulled into our campsite in the middle of the night (smuggling me in under the luggage because we had technically only paid for three camping wristbands while bringing in four people). We pitched our tent in the middle of the night. Coming out of the tent in the morning, we were greeted with the fog-covered alps. It was unreal. I couldn’t believe it.
I’ve felt that way so many times. Showing up to Pocono for IndyCar for the first time, being able to actually go into the paddock. Going to the inaugural Long Beach ePrix and winning a contest that let me and my friend embed in the Mahindra garage for the weekend. Even last year, when Pirelli hosted me at the US Grand Prix to write about its tire operation—I was like a little kid in a candy story, walking miles upon miles each day just to soak it all in.
I know those aren’t necessarily cars, but they’re some of my favorite racing memories. And those are only a few, because I haven’t even mentioned the first time I met the man who became my husband at the race track.
So, what are your favorite racing memories? What’s that memory that just sticks out in your mind so starkly that it makes you smile?