I didn’t know Gary Terry. But I know Gary Terry. I understand him; I know why he got into that Lamborghini.
In the three posts, I have made on this baby blog (that no one has read) I mentioned my recent promotion to “professional driver.”
Oddly enough, literally as Gary climbed into that Lamborghini, I was just 500 miles north doing the exact same thing at Atlanta Motorsports Park. The day prior I also had an off-track excursion. My driver had driven on a track previously and had even taken his Corvette off the track once after overcooking a turn. So when he came into turn two a little fast and knew he was going “two off,” he turned into it and drove the car smoothly off the track. It was exactly the right move, and it happened so fast he didn’t even realize he did it. I prodded him to continue and we slowly brought the Ferrari 458 Italia back to the pits where it was checked out by our technicians and pronounced OK.
He was more freaked out than I was, part of that was the adrenaline rush, part of that was the possibility of paying for a $225K car. Cleared of wrongdoing, he shook my hand, thanked me for the help and slipped out of the car. He even got video of it.
I was lucky. Had he been less experienced it could have gone very, very wrong.
The next day it did. It went horribly, horribly wrong. It seems there are a number of mistakes that were made, but that’s not the point of this. Gary got in that car to help a 24-year old man celebrate his birthday and live a dream. Gary knew the risks when he did it. He has probably had a few close calls like me. I am certain he did. But Gary was more than an instructor or coach, Gary Terry was a dream maker.
This past March I had a client lift off the throttle in a Porsche 911 GT3 mid corner, we went for a ride. She freaked out, and I was more interested in getting her moving again before we were struck. It worked out great and I even got to take her on a second drive. She learned from the experience and set a blistering pace.
Death was the furthest thing from my mind. I was thinking about the smile she had, the joy in her voice and our shared “Yee Haaa!” down Hallett’s front straight. It put a real smile on my face. The day prior to that, I drove a 12-year-old as a gift from his parents in the same model Lamborghini that claimed Gary. As we raced up the back straight chasing the pace car, the V-10 wailed, over that great sound he screamed;
“THIS IS THE GREATEST DAY OF MY LIIIIIIIFFFFFFEEEEE!!!”
The greatest day of his life. No doubt he will have others, but right there, at that moment I was a part of something that punctuated his existence. Something my ROTC Captain called a “Significant Emotional Event.”
All weekend it was the same. Not just for me, for all of us. Yes, we have repeat clients and pride ourselves on that. But a ½ dozen times a day someone will tell me that they are in their dream car, that they have waited their whole life to drive this car. That this is a dream come true. That this is a bucket list item.
Why would you not be a part of that?
I am a retired Air Force Officer. I have been a leader to others. I have gone faster than the speed of sound and pulled 7Gs in the back of an F-15D. I have soloed a twin engine T-37 Tweet. I rode a motorcycle through Mexico, scuba dived in the Caribbean and seen the Ethiopian desert at sunrise and sunset. I visited the site where Christ was baptized and set foot on 5 of the seven continents. To be blunt, I have done some cool shit.
But the greatest moments of my life? The times I will puff out my chest? The things I will take to my maker after my card is punched? When the Almighty looks me in the eye and asks me what I did with the precious gift of life what will I answer?
When I helped others.
When I said or did the right thing to another person.
When I helped make a dream come true.
There are a lot of driving coaches who won’t sit in the left seat anymore, and I don’t blame them. I just haven’t gotten there.
If you have the chance, stop by http://www.gofundme.com/garyterrymemorial and drop a few dollars for his daughter’s education. Then go hug someone you love and tell him or her what they mean to you.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed, not even for the dream makers.