There are few things that have excited me more in life than the moment I drove a car, by myself, for the very first time.
I can remember the rain as it pattered on my windshield before my driver’s test, and how I worried that the conditions would make my test more difficult. And I can remember how I parallel parked perfectly, stopped smoothly at red lights, took turns cautiously—and was handed my driver’s license. Most of all, I can remember my smile as I dropped off my dad, before heading off to school—on my own—for the very first time.
Prior to piloting a plane, driving a car was the most free I had ever felt. As a teenager, I drove my Saturn SL around Bethlehem, Pennsylvania blasting my music—and singing as loudly as possible. It was my own 90’s karaoke party every-time I turned the key, pulled out of my driveway, and headed to my destination.
But there was something I never felt absolutely comfortable doing–and that was speeding—even if part of me always wished I could. I’m not sure if it was because one of my childhood best friend’s fathers sat me in front of a Nascar race every time I came over, or because I constantly felt a need to be moving at lightning speed—but a part of me had always wished I could drive a race car—just one time around a track. When I scheduled an indoor go kart race with a group of friends at the Grand Prix race track, I realized that this was a stepping stone toward that goal.
As we loaded up our zip car to the race track, I could feel the excitement building–but not just mine–but our entire group’s. Everyone was ready to race, some maybe even more so than myself.
As I pulled on my helmet, threw on the required neck brace, stepped into the small indie go kart, and buckled my seatbelt, I could feel my adrenaline preparing to join the race.
That little car may have only had a speedometer of 40 mph, but as soon as I had the courage to really press the pedal, I felt as though I could move at light speed. And even as my friends passed me, and even though I came in last place–I felt a freedom that I had never felt behind the wheel of my Saturn—or later my Honda CRV. With each turn, I felt more in control and with each acceleration, I could feel my heart beating right along with the echo of the engine. As I completed one lap after another, I breathed into the adrenaline. Again, I was in dead last, but it still felt like a win.
When the race was done, I could tell that our group of friends had enjoyed the race as much as I had. And I’ll never forget what one of them said as we drove home:
“I gotta say—that first lap was really special—feeling how fast that little car could go—and seeing how it could drift around the turns.”-R. Buckley
I looked out the window and smiled. Robert may not know it—but he just expressed the same feeling that I’ve felt every time I’ve turned the ignition and jump started every hobby or activity that I’ve tried this year—he’s just expressed the feeling that I am hoping to inspire others to feel when they take a dance class for the first time—or jump out of a plane for the first time—or pilot a plane for the first time—or race a go kart for the first time: that something special has just happened—because more than likely, it has.
Thanks for a great day—David, Rick, Mercedes, David and Robert.
333 North Bedford Road
Mount Kisco, New York 10549