There I am, with my new sparkly car numbers, amid the chaos.
I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about going back to Roebling Road Raceway. I’m not usually a superstitious person, but it was hard not to feel like this track was cursed for me. I hadn’t finished a race without incident there in over a year. In that time I’ve had my brakes fail and gotten punted off the track, missed races due to mysterious electrical gremlins and crashed into the woods. But I was also determined not to let Roebling get the best of me. All I wanted out of this weekend was to just participate in the races.
My weekend started out well. I ran the test day on Friday, and I started to feel comfortable and relaxed on this track for the first time ever. I had fun and improved my driving on Friday, and was able to repeat the performance in qualifying the next day. In the first few laps of Saturday’s race I had fun battling for positions and was feeling like maybe, just maybe, the curse might be broken. But this is racing, and even if you do everything right to stay out of trouble, trouble can still find you. And once again, the curse struck. A Porsche 944 blew a motor right in front of me and dumped oil all over the track, sending cars sailing in every direction. And one car sailed right into mine, smashing my carefully repaired right rear quarter panel and bashing in the glittery numbers I’d just applied to my door.
What is it going to take to break the curse?
It was a big crash, but I was completely unhurt and the car is fixable.
Roebling has become my unlucky track this year. Our season includes three races at Robeling. In January my brakes failed in practice, and then I got punted off the track during the race. In April, the electrical gremlins that dogged me for three events first appeared, just as I rolled onto the false grid for my first race. And now, at this most recent event, I experienced my first big crash that seriously damaged my car.
Qualifying before the car died. “What’s a girl gotta do to get a clean lap in around here?!”
Sometimes, bad days make for exciting YouTube videos, like last time I raced at Robeling. This time, bad days made for no video at all. After running about 30 events in two different Miatas, I had a mechanical failure end my weekend for the first time. This is my second “bad day” event at Roebling in a row. Intellectually I’m not superstitious, but emotionally I feel like Roebling is my unlucky race track.
Brake failure, mid save.
In racing, there are good days and bad days. You’ll often here professional drivers tell the video cameras, “Today just wasn’t our day and our performance on track didn’t reflect what we’re capable of.” I always want to hear more about bad days because I’m always looking to learn from other people’s experiences, and you often learn the most on the worst days. But between sponsors and egos, it’s hard for racers to talk about bad days. However, in the spirit of this website, I’m going to tell you all about mine – even the embarrassing parts.
My first NASA-SE race weekend was a baptism by fire. It was nearly 90 degrees and steamy, living up to the event name. Roebling is a deceptively technical track where I’ve never felt particularly confident. There were 50 cars in 5 different classes, racing all at once on the small, two mile track. It was intense. And it was wonderful.
Many large racing organizations require you to have a competition license to race with them. NASA competition licenses are earned by attending a “competition license school” event, which is really more of a “prove yourself worthy” event than a “school.” The full day event is designed to stress and exhaust comp school students and concludes with a “mock race.” The idea is to demonstrate that not only are the students safe and competent racers, but that they’re safe and competent races when they’re so hot and exhausted they can barely remember their own names.