Getting Back in the Driver's Seat

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It was three o’clock in the afternoon. My first race was full of middle-aged men, and the decals on their cars weren’t all stickers like mine. They had been painted professionally. But paint jobs don’t impact speed and, to my advantage, I had the new LO-206 engine. No one else believed it was faster than their Clone motors, but I had tested it with my dad. My times were consistently two seconds faster. I had put on the new body panels. I’d squeezed tennis balls all month to build my hand strength, and the car had a brand new engine. I’d even come to the track with my dad to practice. The car was pink and purple with oil stains on the bumper.

This was my first qualifier at Carolina Motorsports Park, a road course, so it was asphalt-based and had a variety of turns. Fortunately, I really only had to worry about a few turns, like Turn 5, which was almost a 180-degree turn. I tended to slow down too much and go too far out. Turn 13 was the worst. It was the slowest corner and the sharpest turn on the track; I had spun off the track many times in that corner. I put on the ensemble of safety equipment required by the competition: helmet, neck brace, fireproof suit, close-toed shoes, and rib protector. People had died racing these...

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