Years ago I took weekly flying lessons, accumulating enough seat time to solo. I called my late father-in-law Mike [Rothschild, a factory Triumph driver at Le Mans] and asked him about flying and going forward with the training. (He was then on his second twin Beechcraft, his first having crashed on take-off from a Carribean island due to engine failure.) He remarked that professional folk like myself ought not to fly, “your training asks you to make chance decisions.” I followed his advice and discontinued—he was right. So, about the same time I became involved with vintage racing, and he approved of my car selection. Seems, however, that every time you’re on the track you necessarily have to make chance decisions as well. I became an unintended “pilot”—as you described in your column—a few years ago. I was in a pack of cars at top rpm in fourth gear at Buttonwillow Raceway when my right rear wheel broke off the axle. Somehow it sent me airborne. The most interesting comment was from fellow racer Steve Smith who was driving just to the inside and about two cars lengths behind me: “I didn’t know what to do,” he said, “go around or under!” Funny thing about flying and driving…while flying a car the horizon changes and there’s nothing you can do about it!
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