My experience at Dirtfish went a little mad, but if you don’t know where you’re going it doesn’t matter the road you take does it? – Cheshire Cat

There I was in my basement apartment in Vail, CO with the bright idea to get out of nursing and into racing. After a few suggestions from friends I enrolled in Dirtfish Rallly School. Between the time I signed up and the time I attended, I entertained the idea of opening a similar operation in Colorado. I didn’t know if it was something I would want to commit to and Dirtfish was as good a place as any to try and that find out.

I went to Dirtfish, as a customer. I had no ill will towards Dirtfish or ulterior motive. I was inquisitive and I asked questions about the operation, none of which were inappropriate or compromising for a staff member to answer. I reserved financial questions for the founder himself who I sought out on LinkedIn following my three day course. The subsequent messages I received from Dirtfish founder Steve Rimmer regarding the operational questions I asked of Dirtfish staff left me with an intuitively uneasy feeling. I felt intimidated. He wanted to know specifics like, who did I talk to, and what did they say? I refused to answer.

I had done nothing wrong. No one at Dirtfish had done anything wrong, so where was the aggressive inquisiton coming from? I got curious. What if Dirtfish employees were feeling the same intimidation I felt? I wanted to rule out the possibility that I misinterpreted my interaction with Rimmer so I sought out former Dirtfish employees for answers, but no one would say a word. In fact, they all said they were uncomfortable speaking with me. They all cited the reason being that they didn’t want to ruin their relationship with Dirtfish. None of them said they had signed a non-disclosure agreement with a non-compete clause which was what I was expecting. Based on those interactions I concluded that former employees either signed something, or the leadership environment at DirtFish is so harmonious that there was no need to explain, but I if were a gambler I would put my bet on the former.

I began to create a story in my mind that Dirtfish staff were trapped, like Alice in Wonderland and needed help getting out. I couldn’t ask them if they wanted to be freed. Not without them risking their job. A job so unique that chances are they wouldn’t be able to find another one like it. AAE478EF-B082-4225-BD68-9E5A0C99FC70

If I wanted to understand the environment at Dirtfish then I had to be clever. I leveraged Instagram by using a meme and a few gifs as satire to illustrate my experience with Dirtfish. It was so strange and outlandish that laughing at it seemed like a healthy reframe of context.

It was also a set-up to see how divisive Dirtfish culture was. I wanted to see who would tattle and how fast it would get back to Rimmer. I was able to track every Dirtfish employee that viewed my satiracle meme, and the approximate time they viewed it. Within an hour of posting I had a message from Rimmer on LinkedIn confirming he had seen it. I then watched the behavior of Dirtfish staff to see who quit following me, who stopped engaging, and who has been continuing to monitor my profile since.

Have any of them been secretly crossing their fingers I might pull off opening my own rally amusement park giving them a safe haven? Or are they genuinely happy with how DirtFish is currently being managed? That I still don’t know and I’m not going to ask.

What I do know is that Dirtfish is partnered with Americas RallyCross and ARX is one of the very few racing platforms for professional rallycross drivers on this continent. Their pockets and reach run deep.

I asked a professional driver unaffiliated with Dirtfish what their thoughts were. They said they too found it odd that Dirtfish was so guarded, and suggested that attending a school wasn’t necessary to break into the sport. In fact, the courses at DirtFish relied too heavily on the tire sidewall instead of the contact patch.

Armed with this information, was building my own school even applicable, profitable, or necessary? Especially if I’d find myself battling politically in the crosshairs of Dirtfish? As of right now, probably not. Jumping down the rabbit hole only to find the Madhatter sure was interesting though and I was happy to oblige with my inner Cheshire Cat. 755C3B6F-8854-4AD4-B2FF-FAAC6E24D8D5.jpeg

 

Can Londoners make proper rallycross the ‘tea’ in America, or will it be second to the coffee drinkin, wrench swinging heats of ARX3? The revolution is coming…

You can’t exactly tell from my instagram, but I have been doing my best to network with one of the governing bodies of rallycross in the United States. It’s called Americas Rallycross or (ARX). ARX is a division of FIA World Rallycoss (FIAWRX) which is a very successful division of IMG. What is IMG? A GIGANTIC sports and entertainment management company.

Emphasizing the magnitude of IMG is important to create context when it comes to ARX. ARX is so far down the line of a ridiculously huge conglomerate (IMG) that I am privy to compare it to the bulk section at Whole Foods. Everyone comes through it. From the Supermodel division to the managing department for the UFC, reaching their nubbies in bins of deliciousness and sampling all the treats. I know you have been to Whole Foods and seen the three year olds licking their fingers before dipping them into the granola as mom does her best to scold them while you stand there patiently with your empty bag and cart full of yogurt. It’s too late for you. Sorry.

What’s left of the bin of granola at the end of the day is Americas Rallycross. I feel like a bit of a jerk saying that, but there’s some truth to it. It’s brand new and probably probationary. Everyone who I have attempted to network with at Americas Rallycross is based out of London. Europe knows Rallycross unequivocally, but is it a transferable skill to American culture?

It’s a stretch validated by the empty stands at the ARX event in Trois Rivieres, Quebec which was the same weekend as the Crossfit Games. I happened to be watching both streams online. The empty raceway in Quebec was a far cry from the  packed stadium in Madison, WI. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather watch a sport that is basically NASCAR meets Demolition Derby over heats of people doing a dumbbell press on a f*cking soccer field. Mmmmmkaaay?….

 

After numerous unanswered emails and inquiries to ARX personnel I initially wanted to attribute the rejection to my lack of experience in motorsports, but in reality ARX could be struggling with some real pressure to get this sport to launch stateside and they are probably really stressed out. It’s not entirely their fault however.

IMG’s decision to recruit Europeans to promote Rallycross in the United States is comparable to The Spearmint Rhino cherry picking me to open a topless cabaret in LONDON!

Sure, I know what I’m doing when it comes to men and boobs. I’m a ten year veteran, but I don’t have my hand on the pulse of the political and cultural climate  across the pond and it would take me a TON of time and effort to be in alignment with it.

ARX right now is a real big crapshoot. Hence my empty inbox.

The silver lining is the dark horse division of ARX called ARX3. It’s a promising group of blue collar hometown enthusiast who may turn out to be really f*ckin clutch in the success of the entire organization. ARX3 has gotten very little exposure and marketing from ARX. As of right now the promo video only has 723 views, but that hasn’t stopped them from having good ole’ fashioned fun. You know the fun I’m talking about. That’s right… Merica’ type fun! You get in a turn key Minimalist race car, pay your entry fee, and just f*ckin drive it like you stole it.

Just as CrossFit gave undiscovered athletes a platform to showcase their super human strength, ARX3 is giving drivers and teams that same opportunity. Hell, you will probably even see me out there at some point. I’ll be taking my junior video editing skills to Austin, TX to share the ARX3 action with you. That my friends, is the tea.

 

 

From Surgery to RallyCross

 

So, how did I get started on this rally/rallyx path? Probably the same way most people who have no previous experience or knowledge get into it….

By hitching a ride on the Ken Block bandwagon.9A2ADBC0-0BEB-4630-BF26-1B9EEA4423D6

I can just hear the collective groans of old timers as I write that. The same groan I probably gave Kendall Jenner when she wore a Slayer t-shirt. Seems silly if you put it into context. Who am I to judge Kendall’s level of fandom? I didn’t develop empathy for Kendall until I wore a Johnny Cash t-shirt out on a Tinder date and received that same smirk and petty judgement from across the table. This guy assumed I didn’t even listen to Johnny Cash. It was such an unattractive quality I vowed not to do that to other people and immediately issued a mental apology to Kendall Jenner.

Anyways, back to me. So, there I was in my dark basement apartment outside of Vail, Colorado. I was sitting in my recliner trying to distract myself from my current lot of inept stimulation when I stumbled across The Gymkhana Files on Prime.

Sure, I had a job that anyone who works in Sports Orthopedic Surgery would kill for. Literally. It’s ranked no. 1 in the world.

World famous surgeons means world famous patients. For more context, The Steadman Clinic is to Sports Orthopedics what Ken Block is to extreme motorsports entrepreneurship and I hesitate to call that accurate, but that analogy will do for the purposes of this article.

So, what is my role in Sports Orthopedics? I’m a surgical nurse, which means I work on a team with a surgical tech. The surgeon tells us what procedure they’re doing and we make it happen.E58C7FEE-3C29-4EF0-951B-0C9DB0DEEA8B

Me and my partner set up your entire surgery, assist during surgery, and tear it all down when you’re in recovery. You rarely even see us or know we’re there. Like motorsports, it’s all timed. The set up, the length of surgery, the tear down, and the clean up. All those times are tracked for informatics. Informatics is a branch of healthcare that attempts to quantify care into data points that administrators and managers use to assess efficiency and cost effectiveness. To make it to the top you have to be good, precise, and fast. I didn’t start here. It took me five years of hard work. The old adage, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast applies to just about everything it seems.

My point is, I may be new to the sport of rallycross, but I’m experienced in the context.

How do I even start this journey?! I thought to myself, so I booked a ticket to rally school to learn how to drive in someone else’s car. Seemed like a reasonable and intelligent decision. I flew to Dirtfish in Snoqualmie, Washington. The internet ranked it pretty highly and they are affiliated with just about everything including the governing body for rallycross competition in the US called Americas Rallycoss (ARX).

I learned very quickly however, that rally schools are mostly just businesses. It’s not like nursing school where a developmental program will open doors and opportunities that will eventually land you in the “driver’s seat” of your own career.

Rally schools are basically amusement parks for people who want to get sideways without destroying their own car. I’m not saying the latter won’t work out. They will happily train you and even build you a car, but on a nurse’s budget I don’t see that as an option for me.

Then, I started putting content on my Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook relevant to the mission and to document my experience thus far. I’m still adding, deleting, and experimenting here. I came out of the gate very loud, flashy, and cantankerous. To make a skiing analogy, my image was a bit like a young Bode Miller on a drunken binge. Just check out my header image. HOLY SMOKES! I’m not messing around trying to be the new bad girl of a sport I genuinely know very little about. Instead of going full throttle, or binary on the pedals as my rally instructor friend Jack would say in his adorable British accent. I have since simmered down to the level of an older Bode Miller, but not quite a married with kids Bode Miller. 97587166-EA05-40A7-BB1D-7DF994104559

That’s it in a nutshell. I must admit, I still feel a bit like Kendall Jenner in a Slayer t-shirt pursuing this whole deal, but I am confident I’m going to have some great experiences and connect with some people who are going to give me a high-five and compliment me on my new passion for car handling and performance annnnnnd my proverbial t-shirt.

What’s next for me on the list of learning? Attending a live ARX event! I booked a plane ticket to Austin, Texas for ARX COTA in late September. I can’t wait to see the contrast between beginners at a rally school and experienced professionals.

 

I tried to go Vegan. I lasted 18 hours.

I decided to be a vegan just to try something new. I thought I could go 30 days no problem. My niece actually gave me four days. That was so generous of her. I appreciate how much she believes in me. Also, I recently had my blood work done and wanted to compare any changes a vegan diet may have on those results.

Within 18 hours I was face down in a vanilla Costco sheet cake. Fuck! Those are so good! I could have lied to Instagram and Snapchat. Nobody really cares what I’m doing and the entire cake probably only had one egg in it. The frosting is basically sugar and “plant” based shortening.

Vegan options save animals… but it’s likely they could kill me, which is cool if I’m into self-efacing martyrdom and internet trolling of carnivores. However, processed vegetable oils aren’t good for anyone, but they sure are easier to consume when you don’t feel satiated.

Does every vegan survive on vegetable oil based junk food? Absolutely not. I just want the record to show that’s what “I” immediately started craving. I tried to undo my mishap by immediately eating a salad. In-between my edamame and broccoli I also had two bags of potato chips. I read the label and made sure they were vegan. I couldn’t resist. They were dressed up so cute in their decorative mylar wrapper. A wrapper I promptly threw in the trash. “Don’t worry little lonely wrapper,” I mumbled to myself. “You’ll be floating with your friends in the gigantic pacific garbage patch in no time!”

Here’s a self-assessment of my failure:

1.) I was not prepared. Eating whole, plant based foods takes an incredible amount of pre-planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. I knew this, but I rationalized I could just wing it like I do on my animal based protein diet.

2.) The gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan items I purchased from the grocery store absolutely destroyed my gut. I probably farted 500 times and my abdomen distended like I had Kwashiorkor’s.

3.) I realized I was wearing leather shoes the entire time. In reality I never really started being a vegan. I just tried to eat more fruits and vegetables.

4.) I impulsively jumped in without doing a values assessment. I didn’t have a strong enough “why.” I thought liking cows would be enough to sustain me on this diet for a month. I drove by a field of cows last week and they looked like such kind docile creatures. I tried to turn an emotion I was experiencing in the moment to an entire month of lifestyle change. That was impulsive and dumb.

Would climate change be a big enough “why,” I asked myself? I care about the environment and yes, I have heard about the methane from cow farts increasing global warming. Then I realized it’s probably because cows have a vegan diet and fart like I did. It all makes sense now.

Vegans also have to rely a great deal on synthetic fabrics and materials which also affect climate change so that arguement cancels each other out. To their credit, vegans are aware and some companies are recycling plastics and making them into clothing and other reusable products, but carnivores do that too.

All these debates accumulated in my mind as I was eating a cashew based yogurt full of more fucking sugar. I began to think about the studies regarding high carbohydrate diets and their link to inflammatory issues and exacerbation of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Multiple-Sclerosis, and dementia. All that stress was just making me more hungry.

My advice, which I know you’re not soliciting, is to start with a values assessment. Then, do some research on how to be a vehicle for positive change based on those values. I’m a bit of a narcissist to be honest, so I’m unsure if I have the personality qualities to follow a vegan lifestyle. I’m going to try though. I want the data of my lab results. To get accurate data I should really track everything I eat so the quality of food and macro ratios can be referenced if I ever want to publish my personal findings.

As far as my personal values I will have to leverage the value of connection. If I’m going to connect with others then I need to have empathy. I need to understand and not be judgmental. Will it be enough to sustain a vegan lifestyle for 30 days? We’ll see.