Monday, March 6, 2017

50 for 50: 7 -- Indoor Go Kart Racing with Cousin Daphne

Any time anyone gives me crap for wasting time on Facebook, I point to the fact that I reconnected with Cousin Daphne there.  

This is how long it's been since I've seen Cousin Daphne:  she friended me right after I joined Facebook, and, for a minute, I thought, "Who is this person?"  (In my defense, I had known her by a slightly different first name (her Hebrew name) and a totally different last name.  Which, again, pretty much illustrates precisely how long it's been.) 

But she was flying to Phoenix to introduce her wife to her parents, and I thought I could fly into Phoenix and do a 50 for 50 with them.  Daphne was game, and after looking at the Venn Diagram of "Things on My List," "Things in Arizona," and "Things Daphne and Heather Were Up For," we settled on Indoor Go Kart Racing.

So, I flew in last night (got in a bonus visit with my folks), and, this afternoon, we went out to the Phoenix K1, and waited to meet Daphne and Heather there.

My folks and I watched a race.  The karts go up to 45 mph, which doesn't seem particularly fast when you're cruising down the freeway, but is a whole different story in an open kart when your ass is a few inches from the ground.  We watched the people race (all of them male, I noted), and I thought, "I believe I'm going to suck at this," so I immediately texted my brother-in-law (who actually races real race cars) for tips.

Cousin Daphne and Cousin Heather showed up, my folks said their goodbyes (and hellos, not necessarily in that order) and the three of us got ready to race.  They have a package deal for 3 races, which seemed like a good idea.  (A race is less than 10 minutes long, and it seemed like an awful long way to go for just one 10-minute race.)  So we each bought a three-race package, got our little headsocks and membership cards, and got ready to race.  

It starts with a "safety briefing" which is delivered by some dude in a monotone (AFTER you've put on your helmet, so you can't really hear what he's saying anyway), but it seemed to be pretty straightforward.  (Green flag = go; red flag = stop; black flag = someone's getting kicked out for being naughty....)  So, feeling vaguely unprepared, we pile into our assigned cars and get ready to go.

Well, not SUPER ready.  I can't entirely reach the pedals.  Eventually, they come by and give me (yes) a booster seat.  I'm actually grateful, because I'm thinking reaching the pedals might improve my driving.

We get going and, long story less long:  I suck.  Apparently, years of watching "Top Gear" did not do much for my driving ability, although I can throw around words like "oversteer" as though I have some vague idea what I'm talking about.  Me, Heather, and Daphne came in the last three positions in our race (although not necessarily in that order), and I was lapped by the leader so damn much I only got about 9 laps in -- in a 14 lap race.

Clearly, there was room for improvement.  Heather and I were willing to give it another go, but Daphne decided to take a pass.  (It is extremely toasty when you're in the helmet and headsock, and she was getting a little overheated in there.)  Me and Heather did two more races in which we both steadily improved (although, yes, we both came in the last two positions again, not necessarily in that order).  

OK, the point of this 50 for 50 wasn't actually going Go Kart racing, the point was to do something fun with my cousin and her wife.  But, an aside on racing:  My first race was clearly too conservative.  My second race was hugely faster because I just decided to up the Crazy in how I was attacking the track.  (I mean, you're supposed to go slow into the turns, but the real challenge is, y'know, figuring out just how fast you can go into the turns without actually losing control of the vehicle.  And they are wide, near to the ground, and super-responsive, so it turns out that a Go Kart can take a SUBSTANTIAL amount of crazy.  Indeed, at one point in the third race, I was being a good girl and letting the kart behind me pass, so I sort of had to tap the brake extra hard going into this curve, and I kind of got confused, so instead of slamming on the brake, I accidentally slammed on the accelerator, and the kart just TOOK IT and I shot ahead.  I'm sure it seemed like a total dick move to the people who thought I was letting them pass -- and it WAS accidental on my part -- but it was a good lesson in how much harder I could push those things.)  ANYWAY, by the end of the third race, I was actually understanding the track and driving fast enough -- the next step toward actually being competitive would be trying to pass people (other than those I'm related to).  'Cause there were definitely a couple drivers I followed thinking, "I could take you," but I kept wussing out when I thought I saw an opportunity.  So my actual RACING needs work, but I could probably star-in-a-reasonably-priced-car a track without getting a turn named after me.  Digression over.

I'm sorry Daphne didn't take to the racing, but she was a good sport about it.  Afterward, we decided to go to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch.  We were there for two hours, and it was a genuine opportunity to get to know each other.

They make a good team.  Cousin Daphne is the more outgoing of the two (at least, conversationally), and Cousin Heather initially comes off as more reserved -- but she laughs easily and is really quite friendly.  They have a cute meeting story and have opened their home to a bunch of pets.  There's a lot of love in their life together, which is super sweet.  

It was just good to see Cousin Daphne so happy.  The last time I'd seen her, she was an accountant, and, IIRC, married to a dude.  Now, she's working at a domestic violence shelter, studying for her MSW, and happily married to Heather.  She's doing what she wants and living who she is -- and that's a really nice person to get to know.