Region News

2017 - NNJR's Heidi Ellison is one 'quick chick"

 

Featured in August 2017 SportsCar our very own

Heidi EllisonHEIDI ELLISON

NORTHERN NEW JERSEY REGION
MEMBER SINCE 2013

"I turn my head left to load the dimensions of the next two turns and right to scan the pavement ahead. I can see the ghost of where I want my car, which became part of me when I stepped into it in grid. I’m going into autopilot, right, left, right, left. I register the course worker in his red hat and orange vest running away as I throttle out hard, scaring but trusting myself. The rev limiter strokes me. I hit my marks then play with the throttle on the showcase arc, a dance only I can feel – there’s no place in the world like the edge. It’s like I’m in a vacuum; there’s nothing but me and my car, and time stands still.

Throughout my life, I’ve always craved challenges – baseball, tennis, row team, timed Sudoku, Scrabble tournaments – and SCCA provides a unique intersection of sport, puzzle, and competition. While I’ve always had a love of driving, it remained un-channeled until coworkers invited me to an autocross. After run one, the instructor insisted that I must have done this before. “What, drive my car?” I replied, I didn’t understand.

Heidi EllisonI remember learning to drive in my mom’s little stick shift, stalling, bucking, and pleading for her patience. Soon, my dad would take my brother and me out in snowstorms to slide around, exploring car control. When I first joined the SCCA, I drove my E36 325is and M3 exclusively until a local friend forced me to drive his Miata and, soon after, the S2000. It was the same unyielding encouragement that got me into other cars and eventually to the Tire Rack Solo National Championships in 2014. I am all-in now, fueling my methodical quest for improvement in STR.

Back on course, wiggling through the offsets, I focus my attention between the lights and try to eke out every thousandth. I hold my breath with the final slide and the timer flashes red. Euphoric, I ease into grid, seeing the faces of my fellow competitors, thinking about the support from my talented mentors, the bright-eyed newcomers, and the profound friendships I have made. There is no other place where I am more myself, and I know this is where I belong.”

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