The Track Mom

Another orphaned TTAC Sunday Stories bit.

Stupid Groupon. This was all their fault. She found a Groupon offer to transfer old videos tapes to DVD. The return shipping box was on the table when her daughter Sophie came home from school, and she randomly popped in one of the DVDs into her laptop.

This one was from the ‘98 Nationals, he was in the Formula Vee and it was her shaky videotaped footage from the side of the track with the Sony digital camera.

“Is that Dad?”

“Is that the car in the shed?”

“Is he racing?”

“What is this?”

“Autocross?”

“What is that?”

“Can anyone do it?”

“Did he win?”

“Where is it?”

“Do they still do this?”

She should have known by the tone in her voice, it was all over.

By the time Trevor he got home, Sophie was full of even more questions. After dinner, the two of them spent the rest of the night hovered over her laptop on the kitchen table. They watched old track clips, some dating back to even before they met.

When Sophie had turned 16 and never asked about the Formula Vee banished to the oversized garden shed, she thought she was good. The car hadn’t raced in a decade and she really though those days were behind her. But her dream of quiet summer weekends was over. On a chilly Saturday morning in late January the garage marathon started. Just before dinner Sunday evening, she heard that damm engine fire for the first time in 5 years.

Her beautiful daughter has caught the bug. Sophie was never a Tomboy by any stretch; she wore frilly shirts, never missed an episode of “The Voice,” and was always on her bedazzled iPhone texting. But lately, as soon as her homework was done, the two were in the garage. She was coming inside covered in grease, filth and grime. Her pink bathroom now had a small dispenser of “Gojo” and her once intricately painted nails were gone. Dinner conversation moved from what her girlfriends were doing to late apexes and threshold braking.

Diane never wanted to be a track widow. But when she starting dating Trevor, she thought it was inevitable. Early Saturday morning they were always towing some car to large a parking lot, sometimes hours away. It would be a long, hot-day and she always ended up with a farmer’s tan and peeling nose. There were late nights in the garage and he constantly had grease under his fingernails. For many reasons, she looked past it, and they had married. Rather than sit at home, she had accompanied him, hence the videos.

After a few years later Sophie came along, and he became the ever devoted father. The weekend event participation slowed until he just stopped going. The Vee was the last of his dedicated autocross vehicles, and it sat in the garage. Eventually, it he build one of those Home Depot tool shed kits and relocated the car to it in the back yard. The farmers tan was now sustained by soccer games in the summer and lingered well into cross country running season.

But 16 years later, here she was again. In a giant parking lot, in his car because her minivan had been commandeered to tow the “race car.” She signed the spectator waiver and immediately recognized the feel of the poorly applied wristband sticking to her skin. As she flicked at it and tucked the corner back under itself to keep from catching on her arm, she entered the final stages of acceptance.

Yes, Sophie was a dedicated cross country runner and ferocious soccer player, but even with Trevor’s tall, thin build, Sophie had always been her little girl. It started with the stuffed animals, tea parties, then moved onto to Brownies, Girl Scouts. Through every pre-teen and teen obsession, Sophie had always been a dream of a daughter. In fact she had been the only one with the pull to reclaim her husband from the sweaty, heat-baked concrete world she was in now.

Walking to the side of the course her mind drifted to the days when it was just the two of them. She had tried racing herself, but definitely had zero interest. She was a cautious driver and the noisy, fast-paced autocross did not suit her. But she enjoyed being part of his team. She kept the pit organized, made lunch and always had a cooler full of very cold water and Gatorade. She could pack a truck full of Rubbermaid containers like a Tetris pro and was even very handy with a temperature laser and tire pressure gauge. When Trevor had won, she took pride in the small magnet he would add to his toolbox. She could still remember watching him approach the starting line.

He had a distinct ritual. As the previous car left, he would roll until the starter halted him, lower his head to scan the gauges, lift his eyes, close his visor and then crack it open. He would find her on the sideline and give her a 2 finger salute before putting his eyes back on the track.

She found a place on the sides where she could clearly see the Vee move to starting line. Sure it was a race car, but Sophie had convinced Trevor to paint it the nose pink. Her new helmet had a pink Mohawk attached. She rolled up, stopped, then swept her eyes across the gauges before pulling head back up, shutting the visor and opening it just a crack.

Oh my god, she was…

Just.

Like.

Him.

Trevor appeared to her left as Sophie launched the Vee. She was smooth, never out of shape and right on the line. She crossed the timing boxes, opened the visor and cocked her head to side to hear her time on the PA. She was first in class, and Trevor mentioned just she was just a few seconds off FTD.

“Alright babe, gotta go.” It was only then she noticed he was holding his helmet in his left hand, but still gave him a befuddled look.

“She’s getting cocky, gotta bring her down a few notches.” He pecked her cheek and swatted her on her butt. It was so unexpected she actually gasped . He winked and moved around behind her to head toward the paddock. It was such a flood of memories she brought her hand up to her mouth to cover the smile.

“Good luck” she shouted. Still walking, he turned, smiled and gave her a two finger salute from his brow. She kept smiling as he watched him walk away. After a few moments, she headed back to her car for the cooler. She had packed water, Gatorade and a few sandwiches.

She would not lose her little girl, she would not be a track widow. She was a track Mom.

The car in the photos is shamelessly lifted from the internet for the purpose of this story. The owner/driver is Kim Madrid, a very talented driver in VARA, 4-time Champion and mother of 2. Read about her at http://www.knfilters.com/news/news.aspx?id=3071

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The odd musings and automotive observations of a guy who willingly calls himself Mental

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