Sharing is Caring

By J.G. Pasterjak
Feb 23, 2017 | KBS | Posted in Columns | Never miss an article

Though I’ve spent most of the 2016 season behind the wheel of our Mustang GT project car, I still have a really cool Formula 500 in my shop. With the bulk of the season now in the rearview mirror, our fall and winter autocross events in the Southeast are perfect for getting a little open-wheel seat time while the Mustang prepares for 2017.

Such was the case a few weeks ago when I loaded up the F500 for a trip to Dixie Region SCCA’s annual Turkey Shoot autocross. Or maybe it’s Turkey Trot. At any rate, it’s something turkey-themed, and there’s a fun format, a great site and great people. Really great people, in fact.

This point was driven home shortly after my second run on Saturday when I spun the F500. That’s not usually a big deal, but whatever combination of factors were involved in the dynamics of my rotation conspired against me to ruin my day. Okay, I also may have kept my right foot planted in hopes of doing a complete 360 and continuing in my intended direction of travel, “Sharky’s Machine” style.

But a drive chain had popped off and hit the ground with enough force to gall a few links. Replacing a chain is easy enough, but my spare was 250 miles away at home. So much for being prepared.

But almost before my tow back to the paddock was complete, fine people were already making sure my weekend wasn’t over. “If you want to take the rest of your runs in my car, the keys are in it” was a refrain I heard from more than a few people.

It’s one of the truly great things about the autocross community, actually. The participants are so willing to help fellow competitors succeed that complete cars are offered up with no more gravity than if they were a glass of water or a kind smile.

Autocross, in general, is a low-risk sport. Not many cars are written off on autocross courses, so offering someone an opportunity to drive your car is typically not a particularly risky proposition. But I don’t think that’s really on the minds of most folks who offer rides like this. I really think the motivation is more altruistic: They love the sport, they love their cars, and it hurts them to know that someone else is having a crappy time. That they can also share a machine that’s a source of great pride and accomplishment for them is a bonus.

I jumped into three different cars that Saturday afternoon. Christian Shipp offered up his Subaru WRX STI, a car so utterly competent that it felt like I was never pushing it hard enough. And if I did, there wasn’t much of a penalty for it.

Angela Carlascio put me behind the wheel of her 1990 Honda CRX with an Integra-spec engine and a thoroughly reworked suspension. It was a brilliant reminder of how much fun a good, lightweight suspension design can be. There was hardly a moment when I was in that car that there wasn’t a smile on my face.

And Rob and Tracy Lewis gave me a crack at their insane 600-plus-horsepower 1965 Mustang CP car. Obscene power, 15-inch-wide slicks, and a race-car chassis made for an intimidating package, but the reality was much more benign than the first impressions. It was a lot like our Project Mustang–if our project car did a fat rail of coke off the blade of a hunting knife before each run. It was familiar physics, multiplied by several powers.

But as fun as all these cars were, perhaps the best part of the whole experience was coming back to the grid after my runs and being met by the owners with an enthusiastic “Wha’d ya think?” I mean, sure I’m a guy who’s driven a lot of stuff, and maybe I have a little bit of perspective when it comes to making various assessments, but that wasn’t the kind of response they were looking for.

The real question wasn’t so much “Wha’d ya think?” as “Ain’t this grand?”

Isn’t it great that we can build these machines that give us such joy? And that we can share that joy and accomplishment with others?

As the fortunate recipient of this generosity, here’s my answer: While the actual wheel time was exceptional, just as exceptional was the ability to better connect with the enthusiasm of some of my friends.

If something puts a smile on your face or makes you a better person, share it. I guarantee it’ll be the most satisfying thing you’ll ever do with it.

This article is from an old issue of Grassroots Motorsports. Get all the latest how-tos and stories for just $20 a year. Subscribe now.

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