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Weekend Recap: Helmets off to Heroes 2017

posted Nov 15, 2017, 6:46 PM by Gran Touring Motorsports Club

Article by: Harry B; 11/15/2017

It was a cold sunless morning as I rose hours before the sun had even given it a thought. Quickly gathering my things, I threw them into my backpack ...we had little time to waste, the forest is dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. We arrived at Summit Point Motorsports Park just as the beams had crossed the tree line and began to thaw the gelid Jefferson Circuit from its nightly slumber.

Eric M sashayed into the main classroom to check in and I hesitantly followed. This event was unlike others. As several papers were handed to me I could feel the importance of the act I was about to engage in. It is rare to be able to thank those who have given you so much whether they knew it our not. This is a thought that recurred throughout the day.

The event was a cacophony of chaos... People screaming, vehicles idling, the sound of even the stickiest of race rubber squealing in the frigid temperatures. As is tradition, the event was delayed for no reason but someone's failure to do their job, and yet even with the delay we found time for a group prayer, to whom each person was praying, I don’t know and it wasn’t my place to ask.

Eric and I meet up with some of our other members: Kerwin W, Ron S and Shane “The Stain” Seace. It’s times like these, when you are faced with an unfamiliar task, you find comfort in those you know and those you trust.

The lot of us were broken down into 3 groups: A slalom group, braking group and the people not smart enough to avoid the skidpad, the fools. Each of the Veterans would cycle through our stations and we would try to impart on them as much driving knowledge as we could in 20 minutes, in our given task. I for one spent most of my time getting to know as many people as I could and asked them to share their life with me, however, I found most people just wanted to talk about their cars.

The cars at this event were unlike other events, these were not the tools of motorsport that you see at other track events but instead were expressions of their owners. Each car has a personality that their owner had personally crafted - every one an extension of their owner. One of the highlights was a 1962 Porsche 356 B driven by the 82 year old - orginal owner. This was my car for the day and it was a blast, with its 65 hp and 4 wheel drum brakes.

The sun never really came out that day, the frost never truly melted, but there was warmth. The warmth that happens when people get together and share something that they love. It might have been cold outside but I never felt it. Days like this you don’t have that chance to feel the cold there is too much for us to do, too much to be repaid, to be stopped by a slight chill.

I felt really good about Helmets Off to Heroes. There was an odd moment when one of the veterans had thanked me for volunteering, I didn’t know how to respond ... how does giving up a Saturday to sit in a car at a race track eating free pizza equate to the risks and sacrifices that our veterans endured for us?