Amy Greenway, Sunday Group Management
Last weekend, the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli racing returned after a four-month slumber. Staged at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, it was the first professional racing event to be held with spectators since the COVID-19 shutdown.
Before I could enter the event, I had to complete a series of quests. I was required to read 30 pages of coronavirus protection provisions made by the state, track and series, then sign an affidavit waiving my rights to sue in case I caught the virus while in attendance. Then prior to entering the gate daily, my fairy godmother gate volunteer waved a magic wand around my forehead to take my temperature before saying, “You too shall pass!” Magically the lanes parted like the Red Sea, allowing me, with my nose and face shielded, to embark on an adventure.
It’s been nearly four months since I’ve attended a race in real life.
Like most, I’ve substituted my longing for competition with esports racing. While online racing was great and the weekly drama was just as juicy as IRL racing, I quickly realized my first day on the ground that the thing that esports racing lacks is sensory stimulation.
There’s nothing quite like the smell of race weekend- the fuel vapors, the burning oil, the hot rubber from the tires, the lingering aroma of grilled meats from tailgating fans- I felt like a masked cartoon character in a trance floating, carried weightlessly by an invisible stream of smells through the air.
Race day is also like a symphony, pebbles bumping to the ground-pounding horsepower, the pops of beer cans mixed to cheers and ‘awwwws’ from fans echoing around the circuit create a beat for the cars to dance to.
My feet were finally on the ground feeling the warm asphalt through the soles of my shoes, I was greeted by my extended family with elbow bumps and smiling eyes, race cars were turning laps, and finally I could say hello, hello from the other side of corona.