- Body Roll on a Mk7 Fiesta? Nah.

I’ve never driven before at an NER SCCA event, until now. After registering, and days before the event, and even 12 hours before the event I was so nervous; I had butterflies in my stomach, maybe from the lack of sleep or the worry and excitement all at the same time. I’ve spectated on the sidelines and photographed numerous events, and even did ride-alongs in the past. Worst of all, I live and have even flagged for track days at Canaan Motor Club in the past. My wife and I agreed it’s high time I kick my rear into gear and get behind the wheel. Nothing prepared me for a day at the track like hands-on experience.

I was lucky and thankful to find a friend, a mentor, and a co-driver to share my beloved 1.6L naturally aspirated and automatic 2011 Ford Fiesta SES which I bought new from day one of ownership, previously “never been raced” and certainly “never been beat on”. Caleb Pocock from Lake George, NY came out and we swapped drivers. He’s done autocross, hill-climbs, and even co-drove for multiple stage rallies and Climb to the Clouds. He guided me through turns, chicanes, and best lines for the onslaught of cones.

Getting dirty in the "Joker Lap" dirt cut-out

Getting dirty in the "Joker Lap" dirt cut-out

My anxiousness and worry turned into pure excitement at about 4 AM as I lay awake, quickly realizing it’s track day, and I’m finally going to drive the Fiesta harder than she’s ever been pushed before. I feared it was going to roll, or break something, or crack an oil pan. Fear no more; after one lap, my fears became excitement, pure fun, and enthusiasm for the motorsport I have learned to know and love.

I was able to rent some great wheels and tires from Philip LaMoreaux; they were Sparco Terras with some sticky Continental Pro Contact Extremes -- they were a little worn but they worked perfectly after getting warmed up. Caleb and I bolted them up and we passed tech inspection with a breeze. No worries here!

I was amazed at all the local celebrities at Canaan Motor Club. Jessie Lynn Honigs made a special appearance, as she is usually at the NER SCCA Club Racing events as the Chief Flagger. Lance Smith, owner and CEO of Vermont Sportscar, (better known as Subaru Rally Team USA) as well as his lead technician, Graham, were there. I got the unique pleasure of introducing myself and my wife Jenn to him, and we talked Subaru for a little while. Last but not least, well-known and YouTube star of /DRIVE network’s series, “My Life as a Rallyist” Ryan Symancek was there driving a VW Golf Mk3. Simply amazing.

Looks slow, I know. Very fun in the dirt, though.

Looks slow, I know. Very fun in the dirt, though.

I crawl up to the grid. And then the starting line... I’m ready. Jesse Carr waves his hand, and we’re off! Caleb instructs me to slalom through the first set of cones; swoosh! I missed the entire gate after turn 1 -- darn it! Keep pressing on, regardless! Hard left, hard right into the dirt cut-out. Smooth sailing through the loose soil, and I kept it clean. All those years of playing Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo, and maybe even the DiRT series paid off handsomely. Powered through the soft dirt, and back onto the infield go-kart tarmac. I brake, sharp hairpin left turn, and power out! Across the finish line. A huge sigh of relief and all the stress dissolves. Even though I wasn’t the fastest driver, nor the fastest car on the grid, it is about FUN. I’ve never had so much fun in a slow car.

Caleb was up, and I feared for a minute it was going to roll around turn 2. We went hard and his experience of autocross shined brightly. He shaved 10 seconds easily off my time, in the exact same car. I was amazed. The rest of the day without a hitch. I was so happy, and still to this day I have fond memories of making new friends and strengthening my bonds with others.

For years I have been teased by other drivers for not driving, only spectating; but after driving and the awards ceremony, I countered by thanking them personally for their insistence over the years. Sometimes peer pressure can be a good and rewarding thing. Driving at Canaan was a pure escape from the worries and fears of the world, and I look forward to the next local SCCA event.

Photo Credit: DaggerSlade Media (Douglas Boulduc) www.facebook.com/daggerslademedia

Additional Photo Credit: 22Photos.net (Bob Stengel) www.22photos.net/

Driven: November 5th, 2017

Published: November 7th, 2017

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