Amy Meets a Racer

No forgiveness. That is what I heard over and over from everyone who has witnessed a street race. There is zero margin of error for car and driver when the race forum is a city street which has morphed itself into a racetrack. Runoff is a cement jersey barrier. At first when my friend pro racer Aaron Povoledo asked me to offer him some moral support in his first street race of the season I demurred. A race on a street? That just sounds way too dangerous. As some of you may be able to attest to, the older we get the more we know and therefore we tend to hesitate more before we jump in. We know what could happen! So I thought about it for ten seconds and then said okay I’m in. Having never been to a street race I truly had no sense of what to expect. Once there at St Petersburg Pirelli World-Challenge and able to see the track up close and personally, I frankly couldn’t imagine it had ever been a street since the transformation was utterly complete. It really was a track! And what a scenic backdrop—ocean on one side and a sunny blue sky.

Signing in at the credential office I gave my name for a pass with the KPAX racing team.  Not on the list I was told. Hmmm methinks my friend Aaron forgot to let them know I was coming. Not to worry; I said I am here to help out the team with moral support, thinking my naivete would assist me. The credential lady said ‘Oh is your son one of the drivers?’ Son? Really? I thought to myself—do I actually look that old? I know I didn’t fully appreciate the benefit of sunscreen in my twenties, but come on. No, he is a buddy of mine and I am not old enough to be his mother. She took pity on me and just handed me a pass and moved on to the next parent.

Being a newbie to all of the various race series I am still unravelling the difference between them all. World Challenge races are currently divided into 3 separate classes of cars—GTS, GT and TC (touring class)—and yes, all three are on track simultaneously. That fact, coupled with the fact there were 49 cars in this field, led to to an exponential variant of the no forgiveness formula. The TC cars possess inordinately less hp than the GTS class and at any given moment due to the crowding there were two or more cars side by side vying for a turn. I perched myself at turn one (end of the front straight) and lost count of the time I saw 3–4 deep cars all headed into that turn, all the time wondering which racer would be crying uncle. If I was holding my breath, what on earth were the drivers doing?

As I attend more and more of these events, my car-contact world blossoms in direct proportion. Not only did I make a boatload of new friends, but I ran into a couple of friends I just met at Rolex 24. One of them, Christian Rava, is also in the Porsche Club and lives a couple towns over from St Pete. He is a veteran spectator of this series. We strolled the pits, stopping to say to hello to a number of racers. I introduced him to people I knew and he introduced me to people he knew. He said hey do you want to meet Patrick Long? Sure why not? He knocked on Pat’s trailer door and out popped the smiling fresh face of the racer who would sweep both of these races (I’m not giving anything away since this will be printed long after it is publicized). Anyways, he was amazingly gracious… and young! I tried to sneak a sideways glance for some beard stubble and couldn’t see any. Then I did a horrifying quick old math calculation (that newfangled new math upsets me) and came up with a very likely possibility. I could be his mother! He was that young. Oh my—someone please hand me the 75 spf sunscreen.

As you know Patrick swept the GTS class. My friend Aaron finished in his C30 Volvo despite overheating car issues and won the award for best standing start by rocketing from his 9th grid spot into 4th. I was in a perfect location to witness it and it was magic the way he weaved in and out of that pack of cars. If you get a chance to spectate a street course race I highly recommend it. There is a carnival show feel to it and the racers give it their all in order to give the fans a show, despite the fact they are risking a no forgiveness situation.

Warm regards,