How Heel-And-Toe Downshifting Helped Me Find My Inspiration
We all have someone who inspires us in life, or at least, I hope everyone does. Someone who inspires us makes us want to be a better person or makes us hope that we can be like them when we get older.
One of the jobs I have -- in addition to teaching women about taking care of their cars -- is coaching new and experienced drivers in their Porsches at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport) in Bowmanville, Ontario. Located about one hour east of Toronto, his track is a “bucket list” track for many people to experience and it’s one that I spend probably 30 days a year at, which is a lot considering we have winter almost five months of the year. Mosport is steeped in history as it used to hold Formula One races in the 1960’s; it’s fast, has 10 turns, and has many elevation changes. Not for the faint of heart.
Each year for the past 10 years, Downtown Porsche has held a “women’s only” day for Porsche owners. They also hold two other events throughout the summer, which are open to both men and women.
I’ve worked every ladies’ day, and over the years I’ve been paired up with a woman named Joan who is absolutely amazing! Joan is in her mid-70’s and she can wheel her car around the track better than a lot of the people I’ve been with. The first time I rode with her, I had no idea what to expect, but knew within the first two turns we were going to have a good day. She was smooth, precise, and she took instruction well (women almost always take instruction well on a racetrack).
What surprised me the most, was one day we were driving and she told me she was working on her heel-and-toe downshifting. Heel-and-toe downshifting is used in racing to match the revolutions of the engine to the rear end so that the rear wheels don’t try to lock up when you downshift and cause you to spin out on the track. It’s an advanced driving technique that I very rarely discuss with my students since we are not doing a full driving school -- and here she was doing it without almost any difficulty. I just shook my head and thought to myself “good for her!”
After we finished on the track and were taking our lunch, I sat with her and found out she was just a fountain of youth. She told me she went water skiing pretty much every day at their home since they live on the water and that all of her friends thought she was crazy. She told me all sorts of other stuff as well, but all I could think to myself was “I hope I’m like that when I am in my mid 70’s!”
Race car driver, educator, safety advocate, TV personality, Kelly Williams started racing cars at 17 years old and continued to race for 15 years. Now she works in the automotive industry, teaching women about taking care of their vehicles. She also teaches performance driver training with BMW as well as other manufacturers, keeps busy as a spokesperson for Be Car Care Aware, hosts ladies' Car Care clinics across Canada, and has recently launched a new consumer website www.KellysGarage.ca
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