Hi everyone! How are you? I’m doing pretty well…I got sick but I’m still in a pretty decent mood. I haven’t gone to school yesterday or today because EVERYTHING HURTS, but it’s giving me the opportunity to relax and look up important things about racing. That’s why I still feel mentally ok – I was very serious when I introduced my goal. It really is my dream to become a professional race car driver and WIN. It’s filling me with more passion and motivation than I’ve felt in a very long time! (Maybe more than ever!) So while I look up techniques and terminology, I’ve also been planning the first major steps of my journey.
The first step to open wheel racing is to compete in karting. I’ll need to become extremely good to get noticed!
Before I get into that, I propose a mental health sidebar. Coping with mental illness and just life in general, is very similar to driving. It might sound strange but I think my driving goals are also metaphor for what needs to be worked on in my personal life. That got me thinking that perhaps the analogy extends further. I think that life, like driving, requires a knowledge of how to shift gears appropriately. It’s also important to recognize when braking is necessary. Finally, we need to learn how to navigate bumps and obstacles. I’d like to take this allusion further, but I’ll do that in another blog.
First Karting Experience
After that research you can imagine what I wanted to do… go karting of course! So the day before yesterday my fiancé and I went to SRA Karting in Mirabel for 3 sessions of 15 minutes. It was absolutely fantastic, even with both of us being sick. Thankfully I was looking forward to it so much that the worst of my virus waited until after to truly hit. And oh boy, did it ever. But I’m grateful and trying not to complain because we had perfect weather and I learned a lot.
- I got to practice following the ideal racing line and using weight transfers to my advantage.
- I practiced some drifting around sharp corners. (It turns out that this was slower than following the ideal line.)
- Being so close to the ground was a totally new experience and I got to feel what that’s like at a decently high speed.
- I also felt the differences in steering, left foot braking and right foot accelerating.
- I got to race alongside 11 other people and on the last session Aaron and I were alone which was excellent pressure-free practice.
- I got to test my balaclava, helmet and racing shoes.
Beyond what I got to experiment with, I learned things about myself. That might’ve been the biggest gain of all.
- I was nervous at first, especially being in a group comprised only of men. Men who had clearly been doing this for a little while. But once I sat in that kart and my visor went down, the anxiety virtually disappeared. I got into the zone like when I drive my Jetta baby. (Yep, my car is one of my babies. Speaking of which – side note – I’m not pregnant! False positive I guess which is a huge relief!)
- Zooming around the track feeling out the kart’s capabilities in combination with my own was simply phenomenal. I did my best to use the whole track and connect with both it and the kart.
- I felt a tremendous thirst to prove myself, not just to the others but to myself. Our lap times were recorded which was great since I got to compare performance. I strived to cut time and be consistent, and for my first time, I think I did pretty well! My record was 3 seconds longer that the quickest lap ever completed on that track. I also came in 6th twice. I was pushing for better but…next time! I have to be realistic.
- Above all, this is what really stuck and means the most: I struggle to feel a part of this world. I often feel so far away, so detached and different as if I don’t belong. This can go all the way to derealization. Now while I was in that kart racing as best I could, I felt like I had finally found my place; I was strangely at home. I was alive, calm, real … I was ME. It didn’t matter that I’m not hugely skilled…what mattered was that I knew, deep inside, that this is something I can really learn. Something I can excel at if I put in the work. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.
The Next Step
I’ve planned out what my next moves need to be. Some steps will occur at the same time but here’s the general idea.
1. I need to take a course in karting. I found out exactly where I can do that despite winter coming, as well as how much it costs.
2. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! I need to fit in as much seat time as my non-existent budget will permit.
3. I need to obtain my karting license (SH-SWS). I need this to compete, which I want more than anything! I want to join the ‘Sodi Word Series’ and the ‘Coupe de Montreal de karting’. Thankfully the license isn’t expensive.
4. Ideally I need to purchase my own kart. This is hugely daunting of course, since I could buy a really good used car for the same price. A competition worthy kart goes between 7k and 17k. I found a really good model for around 12k which is kind of a compromise – ready to race but without hurting the wallet quite as much. I also have to remember that it’ll need to be maintained like a car. Oil, brakes, tyres, etc.
As you can imagine, I’m incredibly excited to get started. I’m also turning 24 in a few months which is really late in the game. I seriously need to hurry up! I do feel like I have the ability to learn though. I’m incredibly determined and I can get myself up to speed. I’ll do whatever is necessary.
That’s why my biggest obstacle is money. The money aspect is shall we say, potentially problematic? Yeah. I’m screwed. I’m in debt from my time on sick leave and still having not received my unemployment insurance. Unbelievable! And of course new bills come in so I’m unable to catch up…
It’s incredibly discouraging to have a goal that finally makes me feel happy and purposeful, just to be roadblocked (no pun intended) by money! Thankfully I AM going back to work; I spoke with my incredible boss and we found a way to slowly reintegrate me. Despite being nervous, I actually can’t wait. Still though, it won’t be enough to finance this venture. I could cry…I can’t express how badly I want and need this to be my life!
I clearly need help with this and my parents and fiancé are already doing all they can. They won’t be able to keep up. That’s why I created a Go Fund Me but I don’t have enough visibility. I’m on Tik Tok (@karinapodell) as well as Instagram now so I can share videos of my progress, learning, events and whatever else will come. Hopefully people will find my journey entertaining and interesting. Most of all though, I hope people will come to believe in me. What’s super difficult is that I have no way to prove my worth yet. To prove my worth I need the course and I need to train so I can compete and win. But training requires money that I would need from sponsors. See the catch-22?
I feel desperate and needy which sucks, but I’m asking you for your support. Huge things can’t be accomplished alone. I want to make you proud and I promise I’ll always give 110%!
The course is my next step and it’s huge for me – it means so much and it’s the foundation of my career. From there I’ll get my license and that alone will make me ridiculously happy. To make that happen I need to raise $600. I know it’s a lot, but divided amongst many people it becomes a lot less daunting.
Please consider contributing to my Go Fund Me or sending an e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org
Any amount would be tremendously appreciated! I have to gear up for the next season so the sooner I can begin, the better.