Back to my playground…


After a fairly hectic work week, I curled up in front of the television and watched a favorite movie, Heart Like a Wheel; kind of a chick-flick for someone who once enjoyed tearing down a quarter mile at breakneck speeds. 


That would be…me.  

Later, my dreams had me drag racing through the night and into the early morning hours.  Today, I’ve been in some pretty deep thought about what I would redo in my past, if I had just one chance to return to what used to be…my playground.

Trust me, there is plenty and it’s difficult to focus on just one thing but…for fun’s sake, I’d walk, no run, back to the late 60’s and a chance to earn my NHRA Competition License.

I was close back then, very close.  A local speed shop owner offered me the opportunity to drive his AA/Gas Dragster to qualify at a local drag strip.  The requirements were not as strict as they are today even as dragsters started approaching speeds of 200 mph.  If you were a street racer and week-end competitor at a drag strip, having that important piece of paper gave you an edge, if not just bragging rights.   Aside from those rights, there were great memories of the various racing events which gave me the thrill of meeting so many big names in racing, among them, Shirley Muldowney, who advised me to follow my dreams and “show these guys what you’re made of…get that license!”

And I wanted one…badly.

In 1967, the NHRA’s requirements were as follows…”Known, qualified, competent drivers will be the first to receive their license upon the recommendation of their home strip manager. These experts then become the backbone of the entire program. Their judgement and experience, along with that of the strip manager, determines who shall be licensed later. Each strip manager will be a member of the Licensing Committee for his strip. Other members will be at least two licensed drivers at each meet.

The driver’s test will basically consist of a series of runs before the Licensing Committee, working gradually to a full quarter-mile under power and at progressively faster speeds. Should a driver not pass his first or subsequent tests, he can continue to apply at each meet, but is limited to single runs until he passes the test and receives his license from the Division Director.”

I was a ready-teddy, armed with a competitive and mechanical background, necessary signatures and that need-for-speed.  The only drawback was the dragster at hand and questions about the safety of both its design and performance.  As I said, I was close but those questions were to keep me from making what could have been a dangerous attempt to grab that precious license.

It just wasn’t meant to be and I gave up the chance only to learn, a few months later, the rail job exploded during a race and the driver was severely injured. 

That…could have been me.

But, if given that chance to go back to that playground and try it all again?  You bet your gas, I would!



From Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop… Tell us about a favorite side hobby you’ve had at some point in your life.

A favorite post from several years ago which fit this prompt…perfectly.  Drag racing, a hobby?  It was so much more than that, mostly one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done.  Mostly.  I’m sure there have been others but with everything involved in owning and racing a car, I can look back on so much knowledge learned and some sorrow with not having my GTO any longer.  But, I wouldn’t have missed it all, not for the world!



  1. May says:

    I love when you reveal your spunky dare-devil self in your posts. I always read the ones like this one with a huge grin on my face. I am in awe (and envious) because it is so much more bold than I could have been.

    • Patty says:

      Thank you, May! My kids often turn to me and comment that "they didn't know that about me"….and I smile. Good reason for not sharing my wild side with any of them when they were younger. They might have grown up…just like me!

  2. May says:

    I stopped by to tell you that I have named you a recipient of the Liebster Award. It is a recognition of quality for small blogs which show promise. Hope you will stop by my blog to find out more and to see the things I had to say about you. Congratulations and keep those posts coming!

    • Patty says:

      I am so very honored, May! Never thought I had much to say until I started writing and then my alter ego seems to have taken over.

      I'm beyond appreciative…and humbled by the recognition.

  3. jesterqueen1 says:

    What fun! I can absolutely feel your love of speed and hear the revving engines in your post.

    • Patty says:

      Even at this stage of my life, that desire for speed manages to take over now and then. That's why the hubs installed front & rear laser radar detection and laser jammers in our cars. The nerve!!

      Thanks, JQ!

  4. Great post! I have a writer friend who is also a former race car driver. She has written a series of books for young adults with the theme of racing. Two books are published so far. One is called Running Wide Open and the other is Getting Sideways. Her name is Lisa Nowak. It's been really fun to read her stuff and learn about racing I wouldn't have learned otherwise. Opened my eyes to a whole other world! 🙂

    I'm sorry you didn't get your license. You would have had a lot of fun with that. I enjoyed reading your post.

    • Patty says:

      Lisa Nowak is right up my alley…"an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass." Amazing similarities!
      Ordered her books for one of my Grandsons right after I read your comment Supermom…thank you!

      Hopefully, at some point, I will make a few more runs at a local drag strip…in a friend's hot rod. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  5. karen says:

    No daredevil am I. Now I feel like a bit of a boring nerd. I don't even know if I can handle a roller coaster any longer. I'd better freaking find out!!!

    • Patty says:

      I'm a daredevil only when the ground holds me up…..roller coasters? No way! And, I'm the worst white-knuckled airline passenger…everrr!!

      So, I'm boring right with you!

      Thanks for your comment, Karen!

  6. Katie says:

    Your coolness far surpasses my own. Wish you could have gotten that license, my friend, but you're still a badass dragster in my eyes!

  7. Patty says:

    Awwww…thank you, Katie!

    Everything happens for a reason and I've always chalked my not getting that license to some other plan being in place for me.

    Just haven't figured out what it is yet…

  8. Kat says:

    Oh my gosh I haven’t heard that song in years! For a pop artist it sure was a slow number wasn’t it? And I had no idea you were a little speed racer!! That is the coolest story ever. I don’t want you to go back though because danger. Stick to your bike please.

    • Patty says:

      lolol…have to tell you, Kat, riding a bike presents more danger for me! Four wheels at all times, a stick shift and a clutch.

      Sadly, Standard Shift vehicles are quickly becoming a thing of the past and when I talk about the fun of \”power-shifting\” with my Grandkids, I get \”the look\”.

      Stay safe!

  9. Kim says:

    That’s so cool! My Dad raced when he was younger. Not professionally, but at local drag strips in his muscle cars. I was never on that path, but do I wish I had learned to become a mechanic. Especially in my later years, with all the car trouble I’ve had. I may not have been able to do the work myself, but I would have had a better chance at figuring out what was wrong and knowing if I was being ripped off when I paid for repairs.

    I played roller derby for a few years with a girl named Erica Ortiz – you should check out her website, Horsepower and Heels.

    I know what you mean about a standard car. That’s actually what I prefer to drive, and they used to be more economical in both fuel consumption AND cheaper to buy. These days, I think it’s the opposite as not many cars come equipped with a standard trans, and special ordering one is something you can only do in new cars, at a cost. I drive an automatic Honda now, but my 2002 Beetle is a stick! Mini Coopers and maybe Beetles are just about the only cars you can still get with a standard transmission, and maybe some Mazda and Honda models.

    • Patty says:

      Roller Derby? I love it!

      When I read your reply, I remembered when my hubby ordered me a Toyota truck a few years ago. The truck came in but wasn\’t standard shift; the dealer had a similar truck brought in but it was automatic. I refused to take delivery and got a nasty call from the salesman who was outwardly annoyed with me. And, on top of it, the truck brought in had more than 400 miles on it…hardly what one would deem a \”new car\”! Car salesmen can be a slimy bunch when they want.

  10. Abby says:

    Well, here’s an interesting side of you!

    I’ve seen a few such explosions (on video) and am glad your racing days got sidetracked.

    • Patty says:

      I was lucky enough to only be part of minor issues when racing and witnessed a few scary events along the way.

      But, even with that, I still feel the need…for speed!!

      Thanks, Abby…stay safe!

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