You did what this weekend?

Leslie Silverman
I did something the other day I never thought I would do in a million years. I was so nervous about trying it, but figured “what the heck?” As the kids used to say: YOLO.
My heart pounded just thinking about it, and I was kind of gripped with fear. As adventurous as I am, this was way out of my comfort zone! And considering a low speed version of this made me sick….I had to put on my big girl pants to commit. Before I tell you the outcome let me tell you what I did.
I was a passenger in an autocross car. “A what?” you ask. I have learned most people don’t know what autocross is. It’s basically racing a car in a parking lot. A lot with a course set up with cones and lots of sharp turns. It’s a timed race, and one car does a lap at a time. This particular day there were about 30 cars total, in two heats; the car I was in was just a “regular” special gas, no slick tires. The LOOD, a 1997 Honda Prelude, costs a whopping $1,500. Its owner spent about $10,000 beefing it up, deleting its regular hood for a lighter carbon fiber one. Taking out rear seats. Rebuilding the transmission. You stuff. Which I am not at all a fan of. Sure I love to drive, but that’s when I am in control. In this case I was a passenger. And while I trusted the car’s driver I did feel a bit queasy on a recent drive up Skyline Drive. This course made that drive look like a slow straightaway.
In order to be an autocross passenger you have to wear a DOT (Department of Transportation) helmet. I grabbed mine, that I never wear motorcycling, got inside the LOOD and locked the door. I knew that if any limb made its way outside the window the car would be disqualified for that run. So I had a strategy to adjust the seat so that my feet were firmly planted in a bracing position. I braced my right arm on the locked door and my left gripped the seats bottom. 
As we got the  “go” signal the driver revved for a second then shot out like a bandit. The G-force made my stomach drop, like the first descent in a roller coaster. The first sharp turn tested my bracing method. The tires screeched and due to their slick nature we seemed to drift to one side. This course then had a long straight stretch where we accelerated very quickly. From there, there was a series of very fast tight turns, followed by another straight section that brought us to the last part of the course, an almost 90 degree turn which we took at like 20 mph! 
The entire course took us about 52 seconds to complete. The car did as well as many, beating some of the Mustangs and Camaros in the group. A super pimp Porsche and hot BMW smoked most of the cars there, but then neither of those cost $1,500!
The course itself has downed cones to indicate whether to stay right or left when approaching them. I have to admit the whole thing happened so fast I have no clue how the driver managed to not hit a cone or to go right at the right time! (In case you’re wondering if you knock down a cone time is added to your score.)
So after the first lap I expected to be sick and want out of the car ASAP. I wasn’t. In fact it was such a shot of adrenaline. I wanted more. So I stayed for a second lap. It was soooooo much fun! I couldn’t believe the thrill, the excitement, the rush I felt. 
Of course now I want to learn to actually drive the course. I noticed only one female driver amidst the group of men (her car was sweet and she crushed in it). I also noticed a wide variety of ages of drivers. And while I am definitely not a car gal, I have to say this was a total blast and a great way to spend an afternoon — as a spectator or passenger. This is, after all, just wholesome ‘merican fun!

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