The Best Seat In The House

WRX Interior, March, 2008, originally uploaded by Maggie Osterberg.

Thanks to today’s installment of The Online Photographer, I’ve got cars on the brain. I love ’em. I love driving them fast, in straight lines and in corners. I love the way they look. I love the way new ones smell. (Who doesn’t?) I even love the smell of a tire shop. I think my blood must be at least 20% hydrocarbons.

I’ve been a driver for forty years now. Yeah, that’s right. I’m forty-six and have been a driver for all but six of those years. When I was six, my Grandpa Osterberg bought me a Go-Kart. It had a Briggs & Stratton engine on the back, a floatation cushion from Dad’s boat on the seat and tire-tread-wrapped wooden blocks on the accelerator and brake pedals, to make up for my lack of stature. Our next-door neighbor, Mrs. Bushman, had a long driveway and an enormous yard (it was practically an estate), and she graciously let us use it as a racetrack.

The driveway was a long paved stretch, with a big concrete pad in front of the garage at the top of the hill that was just big enough for the go-kart to make a sweeping, but tight turnaround and head back down the straight. We’d go to just shy of the street and then hang a sharp right into the lawn and go racing down the quarter-mile or so of grass and dirt, making a lazy and wide U-turn around a big old Cottonwood stump at the far end of Mrs. Bushman’s property and heading back towards the driveway, where a sharp left would put us back on the paved straight and headed towards the Bushman’s garage again.

I could drive that circuit for hours, or until we ran out of gas. Pavement, dirt, grass, dirt, pavement…repeat! Is it any wonder I drive a rally car, forty years later?


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