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.
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.
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.
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.