Friday, March 29, 2019

On Driver's Schools

A buddy asks..."So you've driven 43 (or whatever) race tracks...how many have you been upside down on?" And I reply, "TWO! What's the other one?"

The other one was...Hallett Motor Speedway.

I did my two driver's schools at Texas World Speedway in 1984 (1985?) so signed got off for the Regional license. But I learned that as long as you're on a Novice Permit they can't block you from a driver's school which is the best frackin' track/butt-time value on the planet...

So I entered the Hallett driver's school that next month. I don't remember the exact name of my instructor for that third school - I wish I did, 'cause I want to have a beer with him - but he knew I was signed off and he was just baby-sitting me and was all about having a good time and pushing me to go faster. At some point he convinced me - either he really believed it, or he thought I'd get the joke - that I could do Turn One (counterclockwise) - at Hallett flat out.

So, of course, being all piss and vineger, after a couple laps I tried Hallett Turn One flat out. Until I got halfway through Turn One, then decided I couldn't do Turn One flat out, and then bailed out, and then realized that wasn't gonna work either.

But yeah, too late. I ended up backwards, driver's door to tire wall at a good clip and the car popped up off the ground and began rotating, along with the view out of the windshield. I see sky, then grass , then sky, then tires, then THUMP I'm on my head. A couple more bumps and it settles down and gets mostly quiet. I'm confused, trying to figure out where I am...

I shake it off and realize the world isn't as I intended. I reach down to grab the lever to release the belts and the very instant after I move that lever I remember I'm upside down and the science of gravity takes over to move my...a-hem, midsection...into the solidity of the steering wheel and I remember getting hit there hurts...trying to scramble sideways out an open window while hoping there's no fire...some guy in whites, out of breath, runs up to me (huffing in between breaths "are...you...ok???") while I'm still upside down, asking me if I'm okay...and there's this strange smell of fuel and hypoid gear oil (I still hate the smell of that stuff today...)

I'd just wrecked my ride home.

After some moments of time, which seemed like an hour but were more like 3 minutes, I'm watching some wrecker guys trying to roll over my primary (only) street car off a tire wall while I look up the hill at both my school instructor (on his scooter) and my then-girlfriend who came with me with her hands across her mouth...then I look to my right to some guy standing next to me, looking at my car all up against the tire wall.

I look over and give him the "hey" what's up eyebrow flash. He turns to me, points to the car, and says, "that you?" I look down at my driver's suit, then at the car, and then back at him and respond, cleverly, "yup".

He looks over to the car, then to the tire wall, then back at me, and says, "You know, no matter how far back I move that wall, you guys always seem to find a way to hit it."

Turns out he was the track owner.

I had no response.

Funny part is, if'n I'd not have bailed out in the middle of that turn, I probably actually coulda done Turn One at Hallett flat out...oh, well.

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