How Has Racing Changed Your Life?

Illustration for article titled How Has Racing Changed Your Life?
Photo: Hermann J. Knippertz (AP)

Motorsport is a lot of things for everybody. It can be your whole damn life, your favorite pastime, your number one passion. It can be a thing you partake in every now and again when you hear the racing is going to be particularly good. But there’s a damn good chance you’ve connected with someone over it.

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I grew up just on the fringes of the “don’t reveal any personal information on the interwebs” era. It was a worry in my mind, but with Skype, various forms of social media, and all-night conversations with the kind folks I’d meet on blogging websites, it felt like I could reasonably trust the folks I was chatting with.

And it proved to be one of the coolest things to happen to me. As I graduated high school and went out into the Big Bad Real World, I’d already made a ton of friends through racing—a subset of gals I knew I could count on, who had been there for me during some tough times as well as through the races themselves. They were the first people I turned to when I had the grand idea to spend my graduation money on a grand tour of Europe—Formula One style. I traveled across a whole damn ocean to meet up with three folks I’d never met before, and I had the time of my life.

Now, almost five years on, those gals are still my frequent race car pals. Some combination of the four of us have pretty much gone to every single race together—something entirely wild to consider when I think back to a lonely 17-year-old Elizabeth looking for someone to bitch about Red Bull Racing to. And hell, I’m set to marry one of the biggest race fans I know.

I know that some of y’all will also have some great stories for me. Friends you’ve made, careers you’ve earned, places you’ve traveled—things you wouldn’t have done if it hadn’t been for the race cars you spend your weekends watching.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

DISCUSSION

umoja
Umoja

Racing brought my family closer together and put me on the path that I am now where I have just started a Social Media brand called The Car Dad on Facebook/Twitter/YouTube/Instagram.

When I was little I was interested in anything with an engine. But not cars specifically. When I turned 15 that all changed. The Fast and The Furious came out and I was instantly enamored with big wings, flashy graphics, body kits, and neons. When I got my first car (A Liquid Grey Metalic Ford Focus) I immediately tried to make a F&F wannabe.

Well after a year of thinking I was hot shit, my cousin invited me to go to the drag strip with him. He told me and my parents he wanted me to watch him race his Mustang. When I got there, he paid my entry fee to race. After one night I was hooked. I started stripping the heavy stuff out of the focus, and modding if for drag racing. Soon my dad and I were soeding every free minute in the garage working on the car. By the time I moved on to a Mustang of my own, I had the quickest all motor, automatic transmission focus in the US.

I had also pulled the same trick on my dad to watch me race when he was riding his motorcycle. He just retired from IHRA sportsman bike racing about 7 years ago at the age of 60. In fact, his first year racing he won rookie of the year at the track while also being the oldest racer.

We still work on projects together and I do all maintenance on our cars here.