Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Waterford Hills Racetrack

Some of you may wonder where I disappeared to this weekend. Others know exactly where I was, because they were there right beside me.  The place where I spent the weekend, at is the same place I used to go with my dad. When I was still in elementary school, sometimes my dad would take me, my sister & brother to a racetrack, maybe an hour away from where we lived.

I spent many hours watching racing at Waterford Hills Racetrack.  There were, what I thought of as Indy cars, racing, and regular cars. I always cheered on the VW bug, cause I loved those cars (yep, cause of Herbie).  Still do.

Fast forward a few years, to 2008, the year my youngest child graduated, and I decided to volunteer in the paddock.  I asked my friend, Erik (a flagger) about the various jobs available.  Being a typical engineer type, I got a 3 page email, describing the different jobs (with emphasis on how cool flagging was).  I choose working Grid.  What's that?  What does a Grid girl (or guy) do?  We check drivers' safety equipment, grid them (line them up in their slots based on qualifying), and get them out onto the track, as well as emergency duties.  What is Grid?  It's the 30 space 'parking lot', where cars line up before heading out onto track.

What is it like?  Imagine this.  Standing at the center of Grid, with my eyes closed, between races.  I get the very essence of Waterford Hills racetrack--Excitement.  The sun beats mercilessly down on my head, causing sweat to bead on my forehead, despite being shaded by my pink Corvette baseball hat.  My red t-shirt, a size too big, emblazoned with 3 inch high letters spelling out G R I D on my back-my shirt feels like I'm wearing saran wrap.  Yet, I'm happy.

I can hear the open wheel cars as they thunder by pit lane, heading towards turn 1.  I hear the cry of joy as crew members witness their driver passing the car in front, and pull out into the lead.  I hear the jangle of a harness as a dog is walked across grid.  The sound of laughter tickles as children play in the shade of their camper, parked nearby in Paddock.  I can smell the exhaust of so many vehicles, and the waft of grilling bratwurst coming from the snack shack. 

I hear the sound of happiness, and running feet, as the crew and family of the winning driver race towards pit lane, to witness the feat.  I watch as the bright orange car drives around the track, holding aloft the treasured checkered flag.  The fans cheer as he takes his victory lap.

I went to the two race weekends this past month, wondering if I was going to continue doing this.  After this past weekend, there is no doubt.  I am staying; I enjoy it too much.  I feel so much a part of Waterford, have made good friends, and great memories.  I can hardly wait for the next race weekend to arrive!

Be seeing you all soon!  I'll be the one in the red shirt, pink hat, and yellow whistle. 

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