Speed is scarcely the noblest virtue of graphic composition, but it has its curious rewards. (James Thurber)
For parts of the last 48 hours, for better or for worse, I’ve been living my life at speeds I never would have imagined. And that’s taught me a thing or two.
Wednesday afternoon, I saw my life flash before my eyes in a minute and 56 seconds, while riding Sea World’s Manta roller coaster. You see, it looked slow from the outside, so I thought I could handle it. I was very wrong. So, as the known acrophobic was experiencing a 54-foot drop and finding out that the safety harness wasn’t entirely keeping me in my seat, I actually thought to myself that this might be where it all ends. I found myself doing a mental accounting of my life to date, and in those few seconds I surprised myself, because I discovered that I was at peace.
I realized that with everything I’ve gotten to do, and the people I’ve gotten to meet, and the good I’ve done in the world, I was okay if indeed something were to happen. And while I wish it hadn’t taken a panic attack for me to have that realization, it’s one that I’m grateful for having. It’s nice to know that after years of working hard, and not having things go my way, and being ridiculed, and not being happy with who I was, that I’ve come to a place in my life where I have done something and I do like what I see when I look in the mirror. Of course, I’ll always keep striving to do more and become better, but it’s because I want to, no longer because I feel I have to. So I suppose something good came out of the crying, hyperventilating and believing I was possibly going to fall to my demise.
Then I spent yesterday at Ford Racing’s pre-X Games Media Day at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. As you might know, my friend Tanner Foust is a member of the Ford Racing team, and competing in two X Games events this weekend – and call me old-fashioned, but when one of my friends is doing something and I can feasibly be there, I believe I should go out and support them. So I drove up to Fontana to see Tanner, and get behind the wheel with him. I’ve become a bit of an auto racing fan since my experience at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in April, so Rallycross with another of my good friends? Done deal.
Well, things didn’t work out at all like I had hoped. Instead of getting to ride with Tanner – which has been one of the things on my bucket list since I met him two years ago – I ended up having to ride with his teammate, Patrik Sandell, who is awesome in his own way. And while some of the other media members got video of their trips round the impromptu Rallycross track, of course I got the car that didn’t have the camera, so there’s no footage of my racing experience, either. Those two things were heartbreaking, I’ll admit.
Yet thanks to Patrik, I still got one heck of a ride, going sideways at I don’t know what speed across the asphalt. (And as previously mentioned, being a very small, lightweight woman, I can slide around quite a bit.) For those few minutes, with the engine roaring in my ears and everything looking like a blur beside me, I felt the rush and understood why people like Tanner and Patrik do what they do. It’s such a visceral feeling that it’s hard to describe. I stepped out of that GRC Ford Fiesta with my ears still ringing and my body still trying to process what it had just been put through. It was amazing.
It started when I first visited the set of Top Gear way back in December of 2011, and it’s continued through my subsequent set visits, phone chats with the hosting trio, and of course my trip up to Long Beach, but today I really feel like I “get it” when it comes to cars. I now grasp the passion that Tanner and my other friends, Rutledge Wood, Adam Ferrara, Michael Trucco, and Brett Davern all have for getting behind the wheel. I still don’t know a damn thing about what’s under the hood, but I know now why they find it interesting, and I appreciate it in my own way. I feel like I can now share that with them, instead of being the outsider looking in.
And that, considering how highly I think of Tanner, Rutledge, Adam, Michael and Brett, is a pretty damn good feeling.
I’m off to X Games Los Angeles on Sunday, where I’ll do my best to cheer on Tanner at what I’ve been told will be a packed stadium in Irwindale. I have no idea how it’s going to go, as I’ve never been to an X Games before, and might not ever again. But I’m proud to be able to support Tanner, and I’m excited to continue to explore this new interest of mine. I’ve always said life is about trying to make myself into the best version of myself that I can be, and broadening my horizons yet again is certainly a step in the right direction. Let’s see what happens next.
Photo credit: Eugene Frederick