Editor's Notebook, January 2001
The snow is deep on the ground in Thunder Valley this year. The precious ribbon of asphalt that wends its way from the track-out of Canada Corner, up through Thunder Valley, and then disappears under the Billy Mitchell Bridge headed for Turn Fourteen, lies frozen and buried beneath the pristine whiteness.
No vehicles have treaded the snow here. No salt or sand has been put down. The valley remains as nature intended it, two wooded hillsides facing each other across an uphill gully of snow. Small woodland animals and the occasional deer have laid tracks where the roar of engines dominates in the warmer months.
That magical ribbon of asphalt continues past Turn Fourteen, up to the Start/Finish, and then begins its long journey of return to Thunder Valley, passing the hard-braking Turn Five and entering the technical part of the track, the Carousel and the Kink, before coming full circle back to Canada Corner. I drive the track in my mind and always feel a sense of welcome, of homecoming, after I dive into and through Canada and enter Thunder Valley, the sweetest spot on Earth.
|your Thunder Valley...|
At this time of year, my Thunder Valley most resembles your Thunder Valley. It is not so much a physical location in the Kettle Moraine area of Wisconsin, USA. It is, rather, a mythical place of derring do, of pure concentration, of the striving for excellence, of the search for the perfect corner, and of the comradeship among friends. In my mind, Thunder Valley is all that is the best about racing.
Your Thunder Valley may only have left turns leading into it and leading out of it. The track may not be asphalt. It may be dirt. It may be ice. It may be the ruts and boulders of an unfriendly terrain. It may be laid out among cones in a parking lot. Your Thunder Valley is whatever for you is the best about racing, whatever for you is the sweetest spot on Earth.
I know that we are racing now in Australia, South America, and other parts of the world. I know that February brings the first racing excess of the year, the Daytona Speed Weeks, to the North American continent. England and the European continent will soon join the new racing season as well. The women drivers of Thunder Valley Racing are joining other women drivers and their male counterparts in various states of preparation and achievement. All is right in the racing world.
There is a season for all things. We, as humans, for all our global awareness and for all the inter-connectedness that we have created, yearn for the rhythms of nature. We crave our down time, our off-season, our time for planning and dreaming, and our opportunity for renewal. We must take the time to savor the deer tracks in the snow as much as the racing line blackened into the asphalt.
Let us share our racing adventures with each other so that one driver’s weekend exploits can provide fodder for all our imaginations. I love to hear your racing stories, to learn about your trials and your victories. As I haul a fresh salt lick to the corner workers’ stand just this side of the Billy Mitchell Bridge so that the deer will enjoy Thunder Valley as much as I do, I listen to the collective voices of race car drivers joined in celebration of our most glorious sport.