Story continues below this advertisement
After watching the best of the best crews and drivers deal with the immense amount of travel during the past NHRA Full Throttle season, I really got to thinking about what it would be like to spend so much of my time on the road. These people do this for a living, and their families have to get used to it. And then I realized how much of my time is spent travelling too. Not to the extent that Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan, or Allen Johnson travels, but for sportsman racing, we do quite a full circuit travelling around the Southwest. Between our own racing, covering other races, and industry trade shows, Richard and I will spend about 100 days out of town this year. That’s over three months away from home.
I know that for me, travelling is a bittersweet experience. I love racing, and I love driving, but sometimes it’s nice just to be home with your own couch, TV, food, family and your own bed. You get home to find bills piled up and laundry that needs to be done. You try to make the best use of your time when you’re home, because you’ll be on the road again in a few days. However, I don’t think I could have had a fraction of the funny and somewhat odd experiences I’ve had on the road just sitting around the house watching TV. It’s amazing to think back to all the awesome people Richard and I have met travelling to Las Vegas or Bakersfield for race weekends.
One of the most unique things about our race car is the fact that it tows its own pit to the races. We literally rent a U-Haul trailer the day of our departure about three hours before we have to leave. We pack all of our stuff up into the little 5x8 foot enclosed space — prime and spare race tires, tools, jacks, pop-up, signage, display tables, spare parts, you name it — and hit the road for our destination. It’s amusing how many incredulous looks we get driving down Interstates with a bright red Magnum covered in sponsor decals pulling a U-Haul trailer. Needless to say, there are not a lot of cars like ours, and because of that, we get some attention. But surprisingly, our travels have been pretty smooth considering the risk we sometimes face. So many people are shocked when we tell them how much mileage the car gets outside of the quarter mile runs it makes. But so far, we’ve made it to Vegas in one piece. Aside from the one time we had to make an emergency wire harness for the trailer lights, our experience has been a pleasant one.
Speaking of shocked, we like to mess with people we meet a little. When people hear that we race, they usually ask what we race. I like to point to the car with the trailer in the parking lot and say, “That red Dodge right there.” This always gets a good reaction. Richard like to play this game too, “I’m the crew chief and she’s the driver,” he says pointing to little old me. What?! You drive the car? I think this is partly because I look very young and I’m also very petite. But it’s also partly because of stereotypes about men and racing, so I kind of enjoy watching people when they realize that their assumption that Richard is the race car driver is incorrect. Yep, the little girl races that big bad supercharged Hemi car.
We’ve made friends with just about every bellhop and valet at every hotel we’ve stayed in. They always ask about what we’re doing and once we tell them, they want to know how the races went when they’re over. After staying at an extended stay hotel in North Las Vegas for so long, we got to know the owners of the local bar and restaurant, The 25 Club, and they eventually came to see us race at the track one night. We’ve developed a pretty solid friendship with them, and they literally get upset when we don’t visit them the first day of our stay. Richard and I have sung karaoke there and we got lessons in billiards from a patron. The owners make their own special drink that is like drinking an apple pie, when you drink it, you taste the apple pie filling and then the aftertaste is like a good pie crust. And it’s way potent too!