My mother, Jodi, has always been a good sport. She was a good sport when I, a teenager who really only liked NASCAR and had no desire to learn how to drive a manual, kept stalling her first-generation Mazda Miata in a parking lot. She was a good sport years later when I embarrassed her at the drag strip, and when we went off-roading together in triple-digit Texas heat.
I figured it was my turn to start paying back the favors.
Mom, who now has a current-generation Miata, has always been a fan of cars and gets jealous of the stuff I get to do at work, like occasionally driving fun cars on race tracks. (Most of this job is making phone calls to dealerships that drive customer Mustangs off of cliffs or whatnot, but it has its moments.)
Because of that, I’d been planning an excuse for a “Bring Your Mom to Work Day” that just so happened to coincide with a track day for a while, but the right opportunity never arose—the group needed to be small enough for us to carve out time to film a video, and the track needed to be within reasonable driving distance from where we live.
Those two things never paired up, until Fiat Chrysler reached out.
FCA said it was hosting a track day in Dallas a couple of months ago, with Skip Barber Racing School instructors and its Fiat 500 and 124 Spider Abarth models. Mom begged for vacation time on her busiest workday of the week, and off we went for what turned out to be a windy, overcast day at the track that put so many knots in my unruly hair that I’m still working them out.
FCA had both automatic and manual transmissions on site, but mom, being mom, wouldn’t dare touch the plague that is a car without a clutch pedal. That meant we stayed in the same turbocharged, 164-horsepower 124 Spider almost all day. That was so alright with mom that she even wanted to take one home to park beside her Miata by the end of it.
We had a blast, as usual, and she only shoved me out of annoyance once—a significant improvement over getting smacked in the teeth with a water bottle, which happened last time we had a video camera and a Jalopnik project upon us.
That’s fine, though. I’d smack me in the teeth with a water bottle, too.