Originally pulished in the Summer 2014 quattro quarterly
AUTO RACING AFICIONADOS CAN typically be broken down into two camps: road racing and oval racing. Series like Le Mans, Formula 1, and the many races by organizations like SCCA, PCA, and BMW CCA come to mind when thinking of road courses. Ovals are primarily associated with NASCAR, Indy Racing League, and many variants of dirt tracks. Although there is a slight cross over between the two, with a few NASCAR races run on road courses, American Le Mans using part of the Daytona oval, and some drivers migrating from one side to the other, this subdivision is applicable not only to the professionals but to spectators, amateur racers, and High Performance Driving Events addicts as well.
As long time Audi Club NA members, veterans of many HPDE, and big fans of Le Mans, our family falls right into the road racing camp. So how did Alex, Linda, and I find ourselves at Richmond International Raceway in the trailer of Harry Scott, owner of Scott Turner Racing, discussing ways for Alex to work her way as a driver on a NASCAR team?
Backtracking to earlier this year, Alex and her friend Charlie, the Mini Cooper S, had caught a severe case of garage fever from the extremely harsh New England winter. Sliding around on the snow in empty parking lots only goes so far to subdue the illness, and sitting behind the wheel of Charlie in the garage dreaming of Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, and other favorite destinations only makes the symptoms worse. So, while her college friends were planning trips to the Caribbean Islands, Alex began mapping out a trip to Atlanta, timing it as to hit as many events on the way as possible. With Charlie loaded on the trailer, spare pads, rotors, tires, and anything else that can wear or break packed in, her southern journey looking for track time began on a cold New England March day.
First stop—a BMW CCA HPDE at Summit Point, West Virginia, cut short on the second day thanks to the polar cap turning a fine rain drizzle into snow flurries. A brief stop in Charlotte, NC to fly back to Boston and attend class, CCA HPDE at Summit Point, West Virginia, cut short on the second day thanks to the polar cap turning a fine rain drizzle into snow flurries. A brief stop in Charlotte, NC to fly back to Boston and attend class, in the process learning how to remove the key from a Cayenne when the battery goes dead, quick return to Charlotte then off on the 200-mile journey to Road Atlanta for another three days of track time. And the way home included instructing at a Porsche Club driving event at Virginia International Raceway to continue looking for the cure, joined by her (also afflicted) friend Denise Noble.
VIR is a great track with many different type corners and elevation changes, highly rewarding to both lightweight cars and high horsepower beasts. It is also a great meeting place for Yankees and Southerners especially when the northern racetracks are blanketed by two feet of snow. Alex’s student, Barry Anderson, attorney and tobacco farmer from North Carolina fit the latter to perfection, epitomizing the amiable Southern gentleman. At the wheel of a Porsche 944 Turbo, he enjoyed Alex reminding him that: “fifth gear will be a lot faster in the straight than fourth…” and her calm d e m e a n o r . When Alex indicated that her dream was to become a racecar driver, Barry simply replied: “Let me talk to a friend…”
An invite An invite from Barry’s friend Harry Scott for Alex, Linda, and I to attend the NASCAR K&N Series race in Richmond as his guests followed. Greeted by Barry and Harry’s attorney friend Ken Perkins we were given VIP pit passes and a treatment showcasing the best southern hospitality. Never having attended a NASCAR race, we were fascinated by the car trailers with workshops better than most professional garages and by the owners’ buses rivaling many luxury homes with marble countertops, fine carpeting, and exotic wood furniture. But most of all, what impressed us was the down to earth warmth and friendliness of everyone we met. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and a major thunderstorm relegated us to Harry’s bus, with the race postponed to the following day when we were scheduled to fly back home. Barry recounting Harry’s tribulations as a young man working at his farm towing a 30,000 pounds water tank with a little Ford truck, the verification that a BMW 750 could truly reach 165 mph, and other stories made the time very enjoyable. When asked what prompted the creation of Scott Turner Racing, the term “Addiction to Motorsports” was part of the answer.
And why did Barry think Alex had potential? As he put it: “She came into the pits and ended her day when she missed a shift, realizing she was tired, not on top of her game, and a potential danger to herself and others. Making good calls like this is what keeps racecar drivers alive!”
Alex received priceless advice on the path into NASCAR and other racing series, on the sacrifices required of a racing professional, and the offer to sponsor her at a NASCAR school to find young talent, once she gets more races under her belt. But most of all, we gained a true appreciation for Southern hospitality and the friendship created through a common passion, regardless if the bonding Addiction to Motorsports is for road courses or ovals!