Racing is in My Blood

About 35 years ago, two friends of our family raced cars at Quincy (IL) Raceway. My son, Ben, was 4 years old and one of our Sunday night family activities was to go watch them race.  My daughter, who was 6 at the time, spent most of her time playing Barbies or tag with other little girls she had met at the track. But my son wore his race suit he had gotten at Halloween, and sat on the front row every night. The only time he got up was for food and bathroom breaks. He would get so excited when one of our friends would win, and getting to go into the pits after the races and get a photo and sit in the car was the highlight of his week.

Fast forward a few years to 1996, and my son graduated from high school. I had heard some talk about purchasing a racecar, but I was not in favor of the idea and told his father no way!  A couple of weeks later I noticed something in the garage that was covered with a tarp. I walked over to take a look and sure enough, there was a racecar…in rather rough shape, but a race car none the less.  My son remembers that I did not speak to him or his dad for a couple of weeks, and that very well may be.

Ben got connected with some racecar veterans, particularly Donnie Husband of Colchester, IL. He helped Ben get his car race-ready. I will never forget that first night of racing at the track in Macomb, IL. My youngest daughter, Breanne, was sitting on my lap. As the race started, she started to cry and covered her ears. I wanted to do the SAME!

I don’t remember the details of the race, but I do remember that a veteran racer was going to teach the new kid a lesson, and ran him into the wall. The car was OK, but Ben did not let go of the steering wheel and broke his hand. He wasn’t allowed to race with a cast so one of his buddies used a saw and cut it off so he could race the next Saturday.

It was then that I became a TRUE race fan. As most of you know, the roar of the engines and smell of the fuel; the layer of dirt you go home with and hot dogs for dinner; and a beer after the races are over, become the common activity every race weekend. And when the season is over, you have a lost feeling for the next few months. That is exactly how I felt that first year when racing ended.

 

Fast forward a few years. I moved to Kalamazoo, MI in 1999, remarried in 2004, and attended the races at both Kalamazoo Speedway and Galesburg Speedway, both in MI. They are only 15 minutes either direction of where I live. My son moved to Michigan and in 2010 decided to get back into racing. He raced a Sportsman and also had an enduro car. Every weekend was spent at one track or the other and my passion for racing grew by leaps and bounds. In 2014 he won three different features, one at Kalamazoo, one at Galesburg, and one at Springport (MI). As a business owner, I sponsored several races and events between 2012-2014, for SendOutCards.  Our biggest event was Cardapalooza, where we presented 6 foot high trophies (Big-A_ _ Trophy Night!) to the winners, and had a toilet bowl award for the last car. These events were a lot of work but so much fun. This car had our logo down the side and before long, the SOC car was well known. I got to know so many of the drivers, their crew and families, and many are still very good friends even though we don’t race any longer.

In 2012, my granddaughters were 9 and 7 at the time, and my son-in-law, Bob, took them to a Quarter-Midget Try-N-Ride at Little Kalamazoo Speedway. It is located right next to Kalamazoo Speedway, thus they have the nicknames, “The Big Track” and “The Little Track.” They came home that day with a car and their mom, my daughter Brandy, was very surprised and not all that excited.

But racing was in our family blood, and Makena and Madison began racing at the Little Kalamazoo Speedway several times a week.  As Makena got older she was adamant that she was going to drive a “big car” when she was 14. Brandy and I were not so sure about that!

However Bob saw the determination in her eye that no one else did. He got her a cyberstock car and they had it ready to go when Galesburg Speedway opened their doors, under new ownership by jim Wooden and his family. The first few weeks, she learned the track and drove her car with more confidence. On July 4th, an inexperienced driver who had never been to Galesburg before, got frustrated that she was in front of him and ran her into the wall, hard. She was OK but he got ejected from the Speedway.  On Saturday she had a different car to drive and continued to improve each week. See more about her story in this issue…Makena Snyder.

Racing is in my blood. I don’t make plans on race day for NASCAR. My weekends are spent at Kalamazoo Speedway on Friday and Galesburg on Saturday. I watch the Camping World Truck Series, Xfinity, and any other races that are on TV. We also enjoy visiting other local tracks in our area like South Bend Motor Speedway (IN), Hartford, Berlin, Spartan, New Paris (IN), Springport and a few others.

Racing is a wonderful family activity. Tracks offer special pricing for kids, the food is reasonably priced or being able to pack your snacks and beverages makes it even more affordable. Everyone chooses a favorite driver for each race just for fun, and after going a few times, you begin to know which ones to choose, and which ones NOT to choose! LOL

I support my local tracks because I want them to stay open. They provide entertainment for the whole family, and we try to invite friends who have never experienced a live race, to join us.

My years as a fan, car owner and sponsor, led me to be the founder and CEO of the International Women’s Motorsports Association, IWMA Nation for short. This Association will connect and celebrate ALL women of ANY age, involved in ANY type of motorsport, in ANY capacity (track owner, driver, crew, family member, fan, track worker, etc) in ANY country in the world…thus the word International in our name.

I invite you to LIKE and FOLLOW our fan page, and to become a member of the ONLY association for Women in Motorsports. I look forward to meeting each and every one of you in person, and partnering with you to promote and celebrate the women in our favorite sport.