It boils down to the fact that depression over the loss of racing in general since the strokes has never ceased for me. Maybe I really could have made it as a driver, maybe I couldn’t. I certainly had the confidence that I could and would, but we’ll never know. I might be able to get over that eternally unanswered question if it weren’t for the fact that I feel completely cut out of the entire world of racing.
Since getting hurt I haven’t even been to a track to walk around the paddock before a race, or sat in the stands to watch club racing. I miss the days when the track was a home away from home, and we were there almost every weekend. Even when I wasn’t getting to drive, I just loved being a part of my brother’s pit crew, and being there. I loved walking around and looking at cars, watching all the different groups race. The track where we practically lived, where I participated in 2 of my 3 racing schools – Texas World Speedway in College Station – is gone. It was heartbreaking to hear it was really closing down, and I would never get to go there again.
We used to have tickets to every race that would be in the general vicinity, back when I was a kid and everything was handled for me. I always loved the weekends when we had the Supercross in Houston AND the NHRA drag races in Baytown. The first usually fell on Saturday night, and the next day I’d be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to sit in the sun for hours and walk around the pits as the fumes of Dragsters and Funny Cars stung my eyes and nostrils. I loved it. I couldn’t get enough weekends like that. Then there was the Houston Grand Prix, back when that and CART were still a thing. For that race we always had seats, and usually knew someone with a tent as well. It was an awesome time growing up.
We were at Texas Motor Speedway for the inaugural weekend – a Nascar race and an Indy race under the lights, the latter of which they discovered some problems with. That was a thrilling weekend – I got to see THE INTIMIDATOR in action! I still remember everyone standing up and cheering when he would pass by. Depending on what type of racing I had seen that weekend, that’s what I was going to race when I grew up: I went from dirt bikes, to Nascar, to Indy, to dirt bikes, to GT cars, to Formula 1. Although I’d never been to a Formula 1 race in person, I had always watched, and proudly dreamed that I would be the first woman to race in Formula 1. When I got hurt, I told everyone in the hospital “I always said I would be the first woman driver in Formula 1. This is no problem – now I’ll be the first HANDICAPPED woman driver in Formula 1!” Yeah…easier said than done.
Nowadays it comes down to my injuries being less of the problem. Whether you’re a driver, a team owner, or just a spectator, there is one thing you must have to participate in the racing world: MONEY MONEY MONEY…something I haven’t had much of in a while. If I can walk around Disney World and not need a wheelchair, I can walk around racetracks just fine. I’ll need to sleep that night, but I’ll be fine. It’s the ever-annoying fact that it’s just too damn expensive to get tickets. For the F1 Grand Prix in Austin, you have to pay hundreds of dollars just to friggin’ PARK!! That doesn’t even include finding the cheapest tickets you can find (good luck), a cheap hotel room for the weekend (again, good luck!), and paying for the gas to get to Austin and back.
Once my parents couldn’t pay to make sure we went to every racing event, I stopped getting to go. Not only did I not have the master (Dad) making all the arrangements, but I no longer had the money. What grates on you is seeing people you know getting to go, people who could give half a crap about going compared to you. And NO, I’m not talking about my family that’s there – obviously they care as much as me. They’ve gotten to go before, though. This is one item on my Bucket List that really gets to me every time I miss it. I keep telling myself that someday I’ll make it to an F1 race in Europe, and that’ll be so much better…but that only dulls the disappointment so much. It doesn’t help to have a husband who really doesn’t care about racing, and quite frankly finds it to be too loud in person. I’d get him some headphones or earplugs if we got to go, though. No excuse that weak would keep me from an F1 race. I’m sure if we got to catch one while we were in Europe he couldn’t argue with me too much.
I almost dread this weekend now – it’s a reminder that I’m as far outside of the racing world as someone who was never in it before. It’s a reminder that I’m handicapped and poor…that I’ll never get to race again…and that I’m left out. It’s just depressing. I miss that life, and it’s depressing.
The one bonus about tomorrow is that I’ll have mimosas with Mom while we watch the race. Normally F1 races are so early that I drag myself over there and just want coffee. But tomorrow’s race won’t be on until 2:00, so I’ll dull the pain and disappointment with booze.
I can’t wait to get to Heaven. First thing after I catch up with loved ones, I’m taking a Porsche around the Nurburgring, then a Corvette around Laguna Seca! Then, a Formula 1 car around every F1 track! Until then, it’s mimosas with Mom tomorrow as I grudgingly watch Formula 1 race three hours away from where I’m sitting.