In Racing Weekends I encouraged you to find your community, to reach out, and to make the effort to BE part of something bigger than yourself.
What happens if you don’t have a community to call your own? I want to tell you a little about my friend Lisa.
Lisa has a dinner at her house on Friday nights. Someone brings the meal and a group of hungry families get to enjoy time around her dining room table. Those who gather share stories of their week, they talk about their feelings and their frustrations, they laugh at their kid’s antics, and enjoy watching each other’s kids grow as the weeks turn into months which turn into years.
It’s a dining room table I’ve sat at many times, sharing life, smiling at small children as they try to stuff whole watermelon slices in their mouths, and it’s where I’ve felt like my true self.
Wouldn’t you like to drop into dinner once a week?
To a place where you’re welcome to enjoy a meal without the facade we have to put on for the rest of the world?
A place where everybody knows your name and likes you just the same?
However, this particular community isn’t one where I attend weekly, mainly because of the 150 miles each way! This community, Grace’s Table, has captured my heart and because of that Dave and I partner with Grace’s Table in a variety of ways. We have prepared meals, photographed families, and even wrangled kiddos as their mom’s get a chance to enjoy some adult time with well…other adults. It doesn’t end there. We partner with Grace’s Table financially each month, and have most recently enjoyed helping them with a special project (more on that later) *smiles*
Grace’s Table is the community that Lisa built. It is a safe place for teen moms to come for a great meal for herself and her children. The moms get time to eat with their kids before joining the group for about an hour to chat about real-life and practical topics, like self-care, relationships, sex, boundaries, and life skills.
Can I sign up? Seriously… isn’t this simply amazing to be able to DO life with others in a place where you can be honest, real, and vulnerable? I’m a little jealous.
Lisa, a one-time teen mom, found that she didn’t have a community when she was raising her now 22-year old son. She dreamed (and worked her butt off) of “some day” when she would have a home and a big table to host teen moms who could use a meal served with a side of great conversation.
Grace’s Table’s small beginnings four years ago has turned into a community of over 25 moms and their children AND there is a supportive community of volunteers who help make meals, wrangle kids, build vegetable gardens, and right now there are MANY volunteers who are giving their time and talents to complete a basement remodel so there is more space so Lisa can reach out to schools in the new school year so the word gets out for more teen moms to join!
Grace’s Table is now much more than Friday night dinners, they give mom’s a night out for Mother’s Day and a family night at Christmas time where the families are treated to a grand dinner with presents! Grace’s Table helps moms with counseling as well as support them during high school graduations, moving into apartments, and other life journeys both hard and wonderful.
So I have a question for you today…
Will you donate to Grace’s Table so they can continue to create a place where a teen mom can find encouragement no matter where the journey leads her?
Please help young women embrace her story with a sense of adventure!
Tax-Deductible Charitable Checks can be made payable to Grace’s Table 835 Richmond ST NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504. Or you can take action here (be sure to add 4% for those pesky credit card fees!)
BE THE REASON young women find a sense of BELONGING.
After you’re done sending Grace’s Table a donation, check your calendar and ask someone to share a meal with you! Great conversation isn’t reserved to teen moms gathered around Grace’s Table… start your own community… one meal is all it takes!
Thank you for your generosity!
First post from our resident Super Nerd, Dave! Enjoy. – Laura
Racing weekends for me is about turning wrenches, replacing, repairing, and modifying parts to make the car run better. The rewarding part of this is that you will quickly find out which way the fix is going…better or worse. It is results oriented, immediately, which is different from my day job that takes weeks or months to see results.
There is camaraderie within the race team, listening to the driver’s experience on the track, figuring out which issue is the car and which is the driver and as a team we work to make both work together. Fixes could be anything from tire pressure, suspension setup, engine timing, carburetor setup, telling the driver to brake less, or try a different approach.
Adjusting the tire pressure and the suspension can help the car drive faster through the turns.
Adjusting the Engine timing and carburetor can help the engine run smoothly with more power and keep the engine temperature normal.
When the team is able to find the correct adjustments for the car and the driver, it is an amazing sight to see the car blazing around the track. No one person can do it all and all can’t do it at the same time either, so communication and trust is crucial.
Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong, but either way, you try again and try to do it better.
While all this is happening you learn about yourself, others around you and the cars/components.
I have learned from this experience and it has sparked an interest to purchase, maintain and drive an old Sports Car. Not a vintage Race Car, maybe one day, there is interest. But there is also a confidence that I can learn, I can do it and if I can’t, there are people around that know or know someone that knows how.
I enjoy driving my Triumph Spitfire because it is a unique car that you rarely see on the roads today. While it doesn’t have the horsepower to compete with the new Camaros and Mustangs, I can push my driving skills with my car without breaking the speed limit.
High power cars are fun until you realize that you just shifted into second gear and have already exceeded the speed limit…those 4 seconds were fun, now what?
With my Spitfire, I will not beat anyone off the line and I have to be near the top of third gear before cresting 50mph, but I can zoom through those twisty turns without touching the brake pedal and that is is a rush.
While I am one of the youngest around, I am noticing that I understand more and more and I’m clueless about less and less, even to the point where I can challenge others ideas. While I’m not alway correct, my opinion or information is respected enough to consider.
This pushes me to continue to learn more and ask questions because sooner or later, I will be passing my knowledge onto someone new.
I encourage you to take what you love and know and share it with someone else.
A few days ago Facebook showed me the first time I went to a vintage racing weekend, it was 6 years ago and Dave didn’t come with me. To Dave’s defense, I was only going to hang out with my Traverse City family who was coming to the race track 25 minutes from my house in metro-Detroit. The plan was to hang out with family and then do dinner afterward… little did I know that vintage racing would turn into a series of summer adventures, a new found appreciation for a generous and loving community, and a little British car of our own!
Six years later I’m still heading to the track for family AND because Dave loves to work on the race car crew, but I also go because I enjoy the community that supports vintage racing.
Let me tell you a little about my family…
I started going to the race track to cheer on my uncle, Don Kelly, who drives the #9 Bugeye, a blue 1959 Austin Healey Sprite with US Marine colors that outline his #9 and Semper Fi logo.
While sitting under Don’s checker flag tent I’ve met Don’s childhood friends, his extended family, and his racing community.
Don seems to know everyone at the track, probably because Don’s dad raced the same car in the 70’s for a number of years, while Don’s mom helped with behind the scenes activities that keep racing weekends safe, sane, and mostly on time.
Family at the race track doesn’t just extend to who you know… the race track seems to take people and turn them into the most generous community I’ve ever seen.
Let me tell you a little about the racers…
Upon first glance race weekends, looks like a place retired guys drive vintage cars. While the racers aren’t all retired, there aren’t as many racers under the age of 60 and an even smaller number of women drivers or youngins under 40.
A Husband and Wife Racing at Blackhawk 2017.
On second glance the guys who race bristle a little bit as they talk about their vintage car woes, they act tough as they detail their latest track speeds, including the racing conditions, the proximity of the nearest racers, and possibly the exact reason their engine was giving them some trouble.
Many of the drivers bring friends and family to the track so the non-racers round out the family aspect of the weekend with multiple generations represented and all of us dressed in shorts and t-shirts in an attempt to keep cool in the summer heat.
On to my story…
At Grattan Raceway, outside Grand Rapids, MI, on a HOT mid-August day I lazily watched a few races and took a few practice photos while I chatted with family and friends while the race crew was readying the #9 race car (and it’s driver #safetycheck) for the next series.
After taking pictures of the #9 lining up for the race, I ran around the infield (literally) to take pictures of my uncle’s race. The race track is around 2 miles and I noticed that my uncle didn’t come around part way through the 12 lap race. When the race ended I returned to the paddocks.
paddocks: A place where shooting the shit occurs, wrenched on happens, and fine tuning the race car could require a screw driver or a tire iron. It usually looks like a grassy area in the middle of the track where drivers set up tents to cover their race car so they can protect it during the weekend sun (or rain) and have a place to work on the car between races. It’s where the driver and crew park their modern cars, setup chairs, visit one another, and keep their coolers for water breaks and lunchtime cook outs. It’s a place where enthusiasts and those prone to wandering can enjoy the vintage race cars on display.
In the paddocks, the #9 car was being towed and then pushed into its tent. The first thing I noticed were the people from other tents helping push the #9 car into its place along with our driver, Don, and guys from our crew. As I put away my camera gear I heard that the issue had to do with a hole in the valve cover that is on top of the engine and it seemed to be a major issue… like this is the end of racing for the weekend type of an issue. Not a fun thought on Saturday afternoon with 4-5 races left in the weekend.
As the drivers nearby started climbing out of their hot fire protective suits, in 85*F temperatures, they grabbed a cold water and headed over to the tent to talk to Don to make sure he was physically OK and then asked about his car’s ailments.
At this point, I went up to the concessions stand because in truth I also drank a bunch of cold water that weekend and I had to pee. As I’ve learned from these HOT weekends (85*F+) guys sweat out all the water they drink and I do not… so off to the air conditioned bathrooms for me!
When I got back to the #9 race car tent I was taken aback because there were THREE different colored valve covers by the tent post and a bunch of guys huddled around the engine bay.
I later found out that word got around the paddocks that the #9 car blew a hole in its cover so Don’s fellow racers pulled out their extra parts for Don to use if he needed it. Those who experienced similar issues offered their advice, they offered parts, they offered to help, and a few jumped in and got their hands dirty working on the car.
Don’s competitors were helping make the car run and run well?!
Their reasoning said in my own words… They wanted Don to be able to race with them… the equivalent of “can Don come out to play?”
It surprised me and confused me as to why competitors would want to see their competition succeed and over the last several years I’ve heard the SAME ANSWER from DOZENS of these rough and tumble guys.
The overwhelming response from them has been this one… it’s more fun to race WITH someone.
I learned that day that to this group of people, racing isn’t about winning or losing… it’s about being part of a community.
This vintage racing community (VSCDA – Vintage Sports Car Drivers Association) is one who wants everyone to have a great time, to get home safely, and to be able to drive again at the next race. The racers LOVE to out race each other, they LOVE to be acknowledged for their racing, but at the end of the day, I think they would rather be part of THIS community experience than to race in leagues that mainly play for the win.
So what happened to the #9 that day? It was back up and running in the next race and Don raced VERY well, so well that he earned the durability award for the racing season, with many of the points accumulated in the racing following his car’s engine issue.
My encouragement for the day…
Look around and think about people who YOU want to play with. Find people to do life WITH!
Start today by messaging a friend with encouragement (hey I’m thinking of you and I hope you’re doing well today!) or putting out the word of an impromptu gathering in your backyard (bring your own chair, snacks, and beverages!).
Life is best lived and appreciated when we do it together.
Don’t wait until adventure finds you… start your journey to finding your crew and your community right now!
P.S. All the above stories are my own observations and opinions… I hope the people I’ve described understand my support and appreciation for the community they have created.