Oh, no, no! I couldn’t even dream of turning pro. No way! But I was really, really happy with how things worked out up there. I’m still kind-of riding a high. I really got lucky.
I have fun with it, the racing. I think it’s fair to say it’s transformed my life. I never did anything that competitive back in highschool or college. I was always more — well — kind-of bookish. I wasn’t a jock at all.
All I really wanted to do was get through college and get a decent job and a family and get set up for a decent retirement. That’s been working out fine–my job with Shuttleworth. I mean, it’s not the most exciting thing, but it’s good enough work here in accounts receivable.
Before I got into racing I think the wildest thing my wife and I did was Atlantic City–the casinos there. But once Brendan came along — and then Mariah — well, that was the end of that. Atlantic City is really no place for kids, and I don’t want them to remember their dad as a drinker or gambler. Gosh, no. So I started doing the racing.
Last weekend It was just Kristi and me. Her mom had the kids for the weekend. It was a nice, short flight up there to Indianapolis for the race. We left out of Dulles on Friday after work. We took American this time because Kristi had some vouchers. But after their extra fees it was, like, $175 for the two of us — which is still not bad, really–I mean. But you see “free” on the vouchers and you think well, FREE! But we had a nice flight and it was just the two of us. It was just like we were after college.
I think there were some other racers on the flight with us. I saw some carry-ons that looked like gearbags, but I didn’t recognize anyone. I only know three other racers in the DC area, and two of them I knew weren’t going up until Saturday morning.
We got to Indy and got the rental car. I got a Chevy Cruze this time. A little bit of an upgrade. They wanted to give us a Versa, but I said “C’mon, what else you got? Because, you know . . . I’m not rich, but a Versa with roll-up windows? Get real.” And Kristi wasn’t sure we should spend the extra money, but I said “Babe, you’re worth it and so am I.”
We drove out to Fishers — where the race was. We found the Hampton Inn. We checked in then went to the TGI Fridays right in the parking lot. I really like their burgers. The meat really isn’t that special, but there’s something about the way they prepare them. Anyway, I only had half of the bun to keep some of the carbs off. I was going to get a beer to go with it but then old Kristi — oooooh you should have seen her! No beer for me before race day.
We got back to the hotel and slept well enough. We got our wake-up call at 5 and I was up and doing stretches. After I pulled that tendon in a race back in July my physical therapist said I absolutely should be doing stretches right when I wake up before a race. Kristi woke up and showered and so did I and we went down to the free breakfast in the lobby downstairs with my gearbag.
And you know who was sitting there eating a waffle? That bald guy — Jesse Randall from Delaware. Oh, I tell you: That brought back memories: I still can’t stand that guy. He tripped me during that race up in Connecticut and the league wouldn’t do anything about it. But you know — gotta kill them with kindness. So I kept things civil, at least. He walked over to me all smarmy-like, puffing his chest out. I mean, what is this? Trying to psych me out. Geez. Real mature there, buddy.
We got to the race area. It was near the woods in this park area. I had preregistered so I just had to show my phone to the lady in the tent. I got my number right away. This time it was 607, which was good, I thought. I like having the zero in the middle for some reason.
I got into the starting area next to the retaining corral, and I got a pretty good look at the stock. There were some nice ones this time. Some looked like they could run. I was really happy they were starting the Class 3 racers first. I think they found that more spectators stayed around for the whole event when they ran the pro class later in the day — which is good.
I put my gear on and gave the empty bag to Kristi and she gave me a kiss and wished me good luck before I pulled down my facemask. I love that she supports this crazy hobby of mine. I think it’s really drawn us closer together.
The countdown started and we crouched down into starting position. I looked over and there was that baldy Jesse Randall looking at me and winking from a few rows over. That baldy!
The stock got a 15 second lead, which is normal. But it seemed to be longer this time. That’s probably the effect of baldy there. I was, like, hyper-focussed.
So they released the stock and I watched them run off for the 15 seconds. Then the gate opened and we racers were off. Of course the stock immediately ran to the trees for cover, which is what they always do if they can. I ran straight for this young one in a big t-shirt just before he reached the woods. He looked really young. One right stroke to his head as I passed him and he fell down. There wasn’t much blood but I heard that crack that comes when you shatter the medulla. He wasn’t squirming so I figured that was a kill. I felt someone rush around me, trying to take down this larger, older female in a flowery mumu–a darker one. She was really fat, actually–and tall. She was flailing all over the place and screaming. He couldn’t get a square shot at her with the fat that was up around her neck, so I figured “Buddy, if you can’t: I will.” I came in over them with a jump shot with the bat and hit her square in the neck, shattering the spinal just as she was grabbing for my facemask. The guy looked at me like he was relieved he didn’t have to deal with it–at least I think so. I said “Sorry ” and was on to the next. Then a few others who were older and pretty easy, really. Not bragging, but I was putting together some combinations.
Suddenly — you know how you just get a hunch about something? Well, there was a big fallen branch everyone else was just running past, and right there under it, there they were: A couple of young ones trying to hide and wait things out. My heart leapt, let me tell you! I was wailing on them with the bat for like a couple minutes while they screamed. Blood and flesh and hair going everywhere. I noticed one of them was wearing a Garanimals set I bought for Brendan. Eventually, they went silent and limp and the ref was there to tag them with 607.
I was about to run off to find more, but next thing you know, the horn is sounding and the refs are out counting kills. I had no idea I what had happened until the announcer said it over the PA. I won Class 3: First class win for me! Kristi was jumping up and down in the stands. It felt great!
They say fortune is a lady. Well she really was a lady to me this weekend.
I can’t wait for Charlotte in the fall.
©2014 Bill LaBrie