Story Time

Speed Secrets Stories provide you with a glimpse of my past experiences that have led to much of what I know and share with you today. They’re meant to entertain, educate and inspire. Okay, those are pretty lofty goals – actually, I’ve just enjoyed writing them, and now I want to share them with you.

Getting There – Part 3 (Racing Road Trips)

Scenery is just one factor in how much boredom a driver experiences during cross-country travel. Other factors are the number and type of passengers you have with you, what else you have on your mind, the time of day (or night), and how long it’s been since you last ate a chocolate chip cookie or drank a Pepsi.

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Getting There – Part 2 (Racing Road Trips)

When I talk about cross-country road trips, I’m talking about trips where the objective is to get from here to there in the shortest time, not the kind where you meander around the country looking for something to do. I know very little about this second type of trip, other than the people who do them piss me off with their speed (or lack thereof), and their seemingly carefree and clueless changes of direction.

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Up In Flames – Part 6 (My Indy 500 Experience)

Shaking with fear—of being pitched into a wall and being killed, of not having time to qualify for the Indy 500, of not living up to the promises made to my sponsors—and frustration, I step into the cockpit once more. Doug straps me in and I head onto the track to begin half a dozen laps of practice prior to making a qualifying attempt…

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Up In Flames – Part 3 (My Indy 500 Experience)

Writhing on the track surface of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I am in more agony than any I’ve ever felt in my injury-laced life. My face is screaming with pain. It actually crosses my mind, “Why is this hurting so bad so soon? Shouldn’t it take some time before it hurts like this?” Little do I know that this is just the beginning of what the pain would eventually be. Finally, the safety crews and track ambulance arrive, and the medical staff begin checking me over.

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Up In Flames – Part 2 (My Indy 500 Experience)

I quickly glance at the small digital screen behind the Frisbee-sized steering wheel as my car drifts a couple of feet from the concrete wall outside Turn 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I mentally note that 221 is at least four miles per hour slower than what’s needed for a qualifying run on the track. This is my second lap during the last afternoon of practice before qualifying starts the following day, and I’ll need to get up to speed faster than that when I qualify this weekend.

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Up In Flames – Part 1 (My Indy 500 Experience)

Indy is unlike any other race in the world. It is the single biggest sporting event in the world and arguably the most famous and prestigious auto race internationally. There is a reason why racing teams talk about those weeks at Indy as “the year of May.” They are long, grueling, and filled with incredible pressure and stress. Legends are made during the month of May. Drivers have died during the month of May. And others are just disappointed beyond words.

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Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Part 5 (Life as a Pro Driver)

At sixty miles per hour, with our little tent-trailer home hanging on for dear life behind us, the truck began to skid sideways. Gord, who had been sleeping, awoke with a start as the truck bounced and slid wildly across our lanes. With its nose pointing toward the cornfield on the right side of the highway, I counter-steered, got it slowed down, and somewhat safely pulled us off to the interstate shoulder.

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Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Part 4 (Life as a Pro Driver)

Following the Mid-Ohio race, which improved to “slightly better than sucked,” we began the long drive back to Vancouver. I had driven the best I could in the race, given my challenged physical and mental state, but it was obvious that our hastily-home-built race car was not up to the task. The plan was to go home to Vancouver and make changes as part of the car’s development.

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Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Part 1 (Life as a Pro Driver)

I made the only decision that made sense to an eager twenty-six-year-old race driver: I was in. To this day, I’m not sure if I was just plain stupid, overly optimistic, maniacally stubborn, or a combination of all of them, but I was determined to race the full series, nothing less. When a young driver is at a point in his career when something’s got to happen quickly or it’s lights out, and the opportunity to make it big is slipping away, his decision-making abilities may become a little questionable.

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Mobile Home – Part 3 (Why We Race)

Ask a race driver why he or she does it, and you’ll get as many answers as you have drivers. Some race for the thrill of driving fast, some for the intrinsic or extrinsic rewards, some for the technical challenge, some for the spectacle and beauty of the sport, and some to win. Me? I race to outwit my competitors. It’s a mental game. A chess game at a hundred-plus miles per hour. I don’t care about being the fastest; I care about being in the lead at the end of the race.

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Mobile Home – Part 2 (Getting In The Zone)

On the final afternoon of my three days of training with the Jim Russell Race Drivers School in 1977, I experienced something that I was familiar with from playing other sports, mostly tennis. I got into The Zone. I became one with the car. It was the most comfortable place I’d ever been, and even the seat was no longer painful. But unlike being in the zone on a tennis court, driving in the zone on the track was something so powerful that…well, I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to get back there over and over again. There’s nothing else like it.

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Mobile Home – Part 1 (My Racing Addiction Begins)

In February of 1977, I drove my orange Fiat 124 Spider 1,224 miles from Surrey, British Columbia, to Willow Springs, California. Top down the whole way. I was going from where I lived to what would feel like home. From the time I began to dream of being a professional race driver as a five-year-old boy, I hoped that I’d have the ability to become one. I intensely hoped that I wouldn’t suck at it. And I hoped even more that I’d feel at home in a race car.

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