I’m a 28-year-old female.
Before you start passing judgment upon what I might be like, or who I might be, give me a chance; actually, give everybody out there like me a chance. There is an extremely high possibility that you might be surprised by what you find.
You see, not all of us early-middle-aged people are focused on getting a house on a cul-de-sac, a large luxury sedan, and a promotion every six months. These things are nice—but you have to realize that people my age don’t exactly have that same instinct—that fight-for-the-top mentality that Generation Xers and those who came before them might have had. I sit firmly in Generation Y—otherwise known as WhY Me—and at first, believe it or not, I felt more out of place at the BMW Club meetings than anywhere else in the world. I made the correct decision, however, to make my first Club presence known at an autocross.
There is something to the old saying, “actions speak louder than words”—and I am walking proof. I had no intention of proving myself to the Club; quite honestly, I was pretty certain that my driving skills would put me in the same category as the old guy with the station wagon with the ski rack on top. I had no self-assurance, I had no confidence, primarily because I expected somebody else to pump me up with the cockiness I needed to annihilate the course.
But after getting my wheels out of the box, I was infused with some sort of maniacal mixture of motor madness. I was throwing my 1 Series around cones, and tearing through slaloms like I had been doing it my whole life. Who was that mysterious driver out there in that spectacular Sedona Red coupe? Where did this driving dynamo come from?
I stopped in the box and rolled down my dark-tinted window to receive my time, which I was pretty sure shattered all the records out there. Our chapter is full of driving legends, cult heroes of the Southeast—but I was certain that I had smashed their records, all in one run.
The timer stooped down with an aged face and a glowing smile. “Young lady, you know this car goes faster than that, right?”
I grumbled, and placed myself at the end of the long queue of cars waiting their turn to go kill cones. I’d show that old codger what this thing is capable of, just out of spite.
But spite gets you nowhere in autocross, trust me. On my second run, I killed more cones than Free Ice Cream Day at Dairy Queen. I focused too much on trying to show off, and didn’t focus on the task at hand—which was ultimately becoming a better driver.
After about six runs, the 1 Series was tired, I was mentally exhausted, and the clouds were rolling in. With a little bit of hesitation, I decided to stick around to hear the results. But first I prepared myself to hear—from total strangers—about all the things I had done wrong.
But that’s not what happened. I heard not one negative comment in regard to my runs. Quite the opposite, actually; I was commended by all for being one of the only girls in a group of almost 50 cars to get a sub-whatever time (fill in the blank, I don’t remember the numbers). I was also commended for taking the skid pad better than most sage car hands. Compliments all around, and my brain swelled with ego and this little thing called pride.
I then received absolutely the best compliment I’ve ever heard: “Nikki, you’re not a typical girl in her twenties, are you?”
My dining-room table is a clearing house for various motorcycle helmets, jackets, gloves, and attire. My closet is full of car-racing gear and autocross helmets. My shoe rack has a pair of steel-toed work boots and an awesome pair of red pumps. What more does a girl need?
No, I’m not a typical twenty-something girl, and now I feel more at home around my car-club family than I do with my real kinfolk. I’m worried, however, that many other newbies to the Club might not feel the same way. The Club mentality is one of acceptance, of learning experiences, and an inside joke now and then. The only way you can really get in on things is to get out there and do them. If you’re new, leave all of your preconceived notions behind, and you’ll find that the BMW Club, whatever chapter you may find yourself in, is full of excellent people—people who won’t care if you don’t have a dining room table set up with centerpieces and matching drapes. Your car-club family will offer you advice on life’s tough questions, like, “Should I go Dinan?” And more important, they’ll become your friends—in some cases, for life.
The Club is my family—and my “real” family is jealous.
They should be.—Nikki Weed