Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Could I, Would I, Should I

by Simon

Like Tammy, I’ve been watching Patrick Dempsey: Racing La Mans on Velocity.  I have to say I’m enjoying it immensely but I am having one problem with the show.  It’s dredging up a lot of my own pit lane memories—good and bad—especially the bad.  I’m reliving all the stresses and strains of running my own car, struggling with budgets and having the unpredictable thrown in my face on near daily occurrence.  It’s nice to see Dempsey Racing facing the same problems as I did despite having far more cash at his disposal than I ever did.
Naturally, a few questions have popped up since watching the show. 
Given the chance—would I do it all over again?  And the simple answer is yes.  I would, without a moment’s hesitation.  Racing is a heart breaking endeavor but I would have my heart broken all over again.  I’d just like to think that I’d be a little smarter and made a few different decisions which would have kept me in the game a little longer.
Given the chance—would I race now?  That’s a tougher proposition.  I’ve always equated racing with addiction and I’ve been a recovering racecar driver for fifteen years.  I try to steer clear of the idea of climbing back into a racecar again because if I did I’m not sure I would get out again and see my reference to heartbreak above.  Also I would have to develop that racing mindset again—which I could do—but it would take time.  But if someone would offer me a free drive from time to time, sure, I’d race again.
But racing now kicks an interesting question for me—could I race again under my own steam?  And the answer to that question is probably not.  I have a bit more cash behind me than I did over twenty years ago.  I ran a car for a season for around $10,000 in 1990-92, albeit with a lot of freebies such a free van and gas card.  It was affordable because race entries were around the $100 mark.  Parts were relatively cheap, as were the car and engine.  I remember someone extolling the values of an F3 series using older cars.  The cars were cheap but the parts were crippling.  My electronic ignition system was around two hundred bucks to replace.  In the F3, that was $2.5K.  Fiberglass was easy to repair, but carbon fiber added zeroes to every equation.  It just wasn’t feasible.  And that’s how I feel about going into racing now—it’s just not financially feasible.  Every time I research an Aidy Westlake story, I’m forever saying, “How much!”  To race in the championships I raced in twenty years ago are big money now.  Race entries are $400 now and the added sophistication of the cars means added expense.  I just don’t have the disposable income to underwrite a racing program now.  Which is kind of sad.  That’s why I think I’ll stick to my bicycles.

I won’t say I’ll never race again.  I just don’t know when.  In the meantime, I’m happy to race vicariously through Aidy…for the moment.  ;-)


  1. I wonder though in the divisions you use to run- is there more sponsorship money these days? Granted I am not that familiar with the series you raced in and write about for Aidy's books...I am curious if sponsor money is more prevalent now and would help even out the increased cost?

  2. I think it's the rumble and the rush from the roaring,skittering pavement that lightenings up into your hands and puts your heart in your mouth where you try and hold it inside your gritted teeth for 3 hours that you miss.

    How much does that cost?!

    Laurie H.