WORDS & PHOTOS BY CHRIS TIESSEN
As the speed of our pace car – a sweet Porsche Cayman in Pfaff livery – keeps increasing ahead of me, and the line of cars in my rear-view mirror inches impatiently closer, the writing on the wall becomes ever more clear: I need to get off this rollercoaster. My nerves are rattled. My knuckles, gripped tightly to the wheel, are white. And I’m beginning to realize that my dreams of becoming an F1 racer (driven, in no small part, by my recent fave Netflix doc, ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’) will never be realized.
‘Okay, drivers,’ crackles a voice from the two-way radio sitting on the otherwise empty passenger seat beside me, ‘this is our last lap.’ It’s our pace car driver. And I have no doubt that he’s deliberately saving me from a grim demise on this track. Here, in quaint Bowmanville ON, on the infamous Grand Prix Circuit at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park where the Pfaff Auto group of dealerships is hosting a handful of customers to a day-long track session.
Thank heavens above, it isn’t long before I spot the ‘exit to pit’ lane.
Downshifting the brand new shiny black Subaru WRX STi (graciously on loan to me from Pfaff Subaru in Guelph) from sixth to fifth, I manage (with neither subtlety nor grace) to make it off the track, navigate my way through pit row, and park – next to a couple dozen other privateer rides – at the lot just off the race course. As I open the door and emerge from the Subie, my nostrils are filled with the distinctive smells of tire rubber and high-revving turbocharged engine: the distinctive aroma of my spent dreams.
Next to me, an older gentleman tinkers in the engine bay of his brand new Porsche 911 GT3. A few cars away, a younger driver – leaning on the hood of his lime green Mercedes AMG GT Coupe – regales some friends about his most recent hot lap. A couple rows over, a
Spotting me from across the lot, a member of the Pfaff Subaru team jogs over to check in on me. ‘So,’ she asks with anticipation, ‘how’d you like it?’ Still a bit stunned by the whole ordeal, and struggling to camouflage my overriding sense of inadequacy, I take a moment to think it over. ‘I didn’t realize we’d be going that fast,’ I manage to sputter out – fear constricting my throat. ‘I mean,’ I add, ‘I loved the first few laps. But things got pretty hairy pretty quickly out there.’
She grins, looks at me quizzically, and then ventures: ‘So I guess this means you don’t want to take out the BRZ?’
I chuckle, feign disinterest, and scurry to the safety of photographers’ row. After all, this gear is more my speed.