The Family We Choose

The following is a personal commentary on the quality of people we are blessed to call our family and friends at the race track…If you’re one of them, please know that we appreciate you every moment of every day!

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Resting my feet in the paddock at Carolina Motorsports Park

Hi! This is Becca: Steve’s wife, Mom to MK, and co-owner of Panic Motorsports, LLC. I’m a mom, wife, artist, and sports car driver.  I attended my first race, the 1981 Chimney Rock Hill Climb, at only 4 weeks old.  In 1985, I named my kitten “Emerson,” and I got in trouble with my teacher a few years later in second grade because I could spell “Fittipaldi,” but I couldn’t ace my spelling tests. 😉  Since then, I attended a performance handling school at Road Atlanta in 1997, took up autocrossing in 1999, then Spec Miata racing in 2004, and I’ve been every type of race official, crew, and spectator to Formula 1, the 2000 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, multiple TransAm, ALMS, Indy, and IMSA races, and more SCCA events than I can remember.   Racing became a business for our family in 2006 with the opening of Panic Motorsports in September of that year, and it’s been 24/7 since. It’s a good thing, then, that I’m a total Gearhead!  I have a love of all things Mazda, little red Mercedes sports cars, and flat out speed!  Our daughter had no choice but to be a track brat, but like me, she fits right in and has recently developed a taste for kart racing.  She also has a huge fan-girl crush on Lewis Hamilton, but you didn’t hear that from me.  🙂

In addition to cars and all things automotive, I also love art!  I dabble in oils, acrylics, pastels, ink, and the written word.  Here are a few of my recent artworks:

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Artwork by me, Becca / Ahab Studios

So now that you know a little about me, there’s one other thing that, if you’ve seen me around, you might have noticed: I don’t walk so well. In fact, walking and standing is highly overrated, in my opinion.  I’ve battled a Neuromuscular disorder called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) since I was 12 years old. It affects my feet and lower legs causing bone deformities and pain as the muscles atrophy.  It sucks. Period. I have a secondary type of CMT that causes the nerves to be overly active, which means I feel everything, rather than the traditional form of CMT and most Neuromuscular disorders which reduces nerve activity.  While I realize that many of my friends and other folks have much greater physical challenges, CMT is a daily battle for me and can be very tiring.

So how does this relate to the “family we choose”?  Well, as I said above, this post is about the quality of the people with whom we have become friends because of sports car racing, and there are few places I go where I feel like my disability isn’t noticeable or, rather, where it is wholly accepted.  After years of physical therapy, incorrect diagnoses, and frustration, my feet were reconstructed in 2001.  Since then, my mobility challenges have been a visible, regular presence, but never once has anyone at the race track, regardless of if we’re at Daytona, Mid Ohio, or Virginia International Raceway…never once has someone put me down or made me feel that I was lacking because of my inability to keep up.

You see, sports car folks are so bound by their love of the sport that if you show up, regardless of your race, creed, looks, or abilities, you’re automatically cool. 🙂 In all the various groups and activities I’ve been involved with over the years, only the sports car folks have been wholly accepting of each other. We may drive each other nuts from time to time, but acceptance of each other as a comrade in arms is the first and foremost blessing of this group, and I can tell you that if any one of us needed help tomorrow, we’d be overwhelmed with offers and options, even from those people that we may have only met in passing.

Our friends at the track know that when I have to sit down in the middle of something, or I say, “I’m done,” it’s not because I’m lazy or apathetic.  On the other hand, in my “regular” life, I am often judged for not being able to work an 8 hour day or not being able to keep up and complete everything that is expected of me; or rather, what is expected of a “normal” person.  I have plenty to contribute, I just do it slower than most, and sports car people understand that. I know other mobility challenged SCCA members who are wheelchair bound or who have prosthetic limbs, and I would suspect that they would say the same. Our value is judged by our willingness to be involved; nothing more, nothing less.

The only other place I’ve ever felt so accepted is Grand Cayman, and since I can’t spend every weekend there, I’ll gladly take a race track. 😉  However, blue water, snorkeling, and a pina colada (or two) sound really good right about now….  Maybe it’s because the pace of life is slower in the islands and folks don’t mind taking their time to match my own.

But I digress with dreams of sea turtles and sandy shores:  My whole point is, based on personal experience of a different nature than most, the quality of the family we have chosen and found among the SCCA and other sports car organizations is second to none!

People who want to get involved in racing are often intimidated by our loud, raucous group and the “exotic” world of sports cars, but they need not be. If you want to get involved in racing, simply ask your nearest SCCA member. I can assure you that he/she will be more than willing to help get you staretd…as long as you’re willing to listen to hours of bench racing stories and the nuances of cornering speeds, apex points, and left foot braking. We’re a bunch of talkers! 😉

We are so incredibly blessed by the family we have found and chosen among the racing community.   They allow us to #liveunlimited –

For more information:  Panic Motorsports, Sports Car Club of America Club Racing, Muscular Dystrophy Association

 

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