By Tara Richter…
A faint dust lingered in the crisp-cool air but almost seemed absent as I took in my surroundings at the Medicine Hat Speedway. The curious on-lookers filled the stands, snuggled warmly in their blankets ready for an evening to cheer on the racers. All at once the roar of the revving engines overpowered the voices in the crowd and I instinctively covered my ears despite the conversation I was having with the other bloggers sitting next to me. “Whaaaat!?” I yelled laughing as we looked at one another, unable to hear anything except the roar of the race cars as they passed by. The noise grew to an all-time high, the crowd erupting in cheers as speeding tires screeched along the pavement. The fierce smell of burning rubber peaked my senses and a distinctive vibration rattled through my bones each time the cluster of cars passed just meters away from where I was sitting. A shot of adrenaline rushed through my body, and the whole crowd seemed to gasp as the first spin-out & crash of the evening occurred. “How exciting!” I thought as I watched, fully captivated. Returning to my hotel room later that evening, ears ringing, I felt as though I’d just spent hours at a rock-concert. I was eagerly looking forward to the chance to be in one of those race cars the next day and curious to know if the excitement of being in the car exceeded that of simply watching the race. One thing was certain – a night at the races was a true feast for the senses.
I didn’t even know that the Medicine Hat Speedway existed despite the fact that my brother and sister-in-law have lived in Medicine Hat for over 10 years. I was surprised to learn that it is located just minutes outside the city and is the only oval track in all of Canada. Sitting at the races with fellow bloggers Ricky Forbes, driver for The Tornado Hunter and Medicine Hat local Alison Van Dyke, I realized that I didn’t know the first thing about racing cars. As it turns out, you really don’t need to know anything at all about racing to enjoy the Medicine Hat Speedway.
My true appreciation for the allure of racing was being able to experience, first hand, the thrill of riding in a car at high speeds as a passenger alongside a professional. Alison, Ricky, and I were each paired with a different driver and competed in a 5-lap race around the track for title of champion. Knowing that Ricky was already used to top speeds chasing tornados, the feisty & competitive spirit in me kicked and I knew there was one thing I had to accomplish that day. Beat Ricky Forbes. So I naturally volunteered to drive with Rick Jondreau, who had just the night before won the IMCA Canadian Championship for 2013. I hoped he hadn’t caught wind of the unintentional insult I made while suiting up, asking if my red-track suit was that of a kid’s since it fit so snug, and I myself was rather short. When someone laughing, piped up and said “I won’t tell Rick you said that”, I realized that my track suit belonged to my soon to be driver. Oops – foot in mouth! Perhaps karma had its way with me when I asked if the gloves I was handed to wear were in case we crashed and caught fire. “Yes actually” Rick replied with a laugh. Gulp.
A ride-along in a race car is something I think everyone needs to experience. There is absolutely nothing like the high-speed thrill of watching the walls of the track inch closer and closer and panic and terror turn to adrenaline and excitement at the very last second while g-forces pull on the body as the car manoeuvers from the outside edge, down to the inside corner of the track.
Each lap seemed more exciting than the last, and before I knew it the flag signalling the final lap of the race was waved. Rick steered himself into the tiny space between the other two racers. Neck and neck we sped along until at last Rick put the pedal to the metal and we pulled out in front – full speed ahead – the black & white checkered flag a blur as we crossed the finish line. I won – I beat Ricky Forbes! Yes I am aware I personally had absolutely nothing to do with it, but a win is a win. Champagne, trophy, title and all. Pulling my helmet off, I was smiling ear to ear. I faintly heard through my ear-plugs “How was that?”, and I could hardly contain myself as I burst out with excitement “Oh my God that was SO AWESOME!”
Just two days after returning home from my exciting experience at the Medicine Hat Speedway, I was invited by a co-worker to fly in a tiny, 2-seater Cessna airplane above my city of Regina. Had I not been in that race car just days before, I would have for sure shut-down this rare opportunity to see the breath-taking beauty of my city from a height most would never get appreciate. You see – I have a debilitating fear of flying; or at least, I used to.
I can genuinely say, without a doubt that riding in that race car has forever changed the way I view fear and the way I embrace opportunities. It wasn’t the thrill of the ride itself since I’d hardly consider myself an adrenaline junkie. In fact I’ve suffered from anxiety for most of my adult life. Instead it was the satisfaction of embracing a genuine fear and overcoming it all in a matter of minutes. It has instilled in me the confidence to know that with the right attitude, and of course a touch of feistiness, that I can overcome just about any obstacle in my way.
Thank you to Stay In Medicine Hat and the Medicine Hat Speedway for inviting Feisty Frugal & Fabulous to cover this event!