When I met Matt and fell in love with him, I quickly realized that he had another love of his life―race cars. Marrying Matt was my entrée into the world of BMWs, Porsches, and a whole slew of Midwestern racetracks. Race cars, and BMWs more specifically, have been a running theme throughout our story.
Early in any relationship, women overanalyze most details of their new beau and the car he drives is no exception. I’m not sure if men realize this or not but the car you drive tells women a lot about you, and the bigger the price tag or the flashier the accoutrements are not necessarily bonuses. Matt’s car at the time was the perfect mixture of cool without trying too hard. He was driving a stick shift 1999 BMW 323is with a familiar musty smell that will always make me think of those early days. Anything fancier or brand new would have made me question his genuineness, but this car was 100% authentic Matt. He would trade it in just a year later for a 2014 BMW 320i xDrive that was more baby friendly and reliable for the one on the way, but we both look back on the 323is with fondness.
About six weeks into our relationship, Matt had me meet him at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan where he and his dad were instructing at a High Performance Driver Experience. This was the first time I was meeting his dad, and it was quite apropos for this meeting to take place at a track.
I had never been to a racetrack before, never worn a racing helmet, and never gone 100mph+. I was excited to hop in the beautiful white Porsche GT3 and go for a track ride. I brushed off any wariness at the sight of Matt’s racing helmet with his blood type on it and the ambulance nonchalantly waiting in the periphery, threw on a loaner helmet and fastened my seat belt. Matt put on his racing gloves and told me to give a thumbs up/thumbs down to let him know if I was OK…I learned that the GT3 is very loud at speed thanks to an aftermarket exhaust system and he may not be able to hear me. As we hit 135mph while rapidly approaching a sharp right turn, I was exhilarated. It was such a cool experience and I immediately understood the passion. I didn’t ever want to drive such a powerful beast myself (and have never quite mastered stick shift much to Matt’s chagrin), but I was certainly happy to be his passenger in that car and, well, forever after.
Fast forward a bit, and as soon as we found out we were having a son, our brains both went immediately to “race car driver.” Our firstborn son, Ryan, was gifted a “Future Race Car Driver” onesie, an M3 onesie, and a tiny Ferrari F1 racing suit. And that was just the clothes―he also has a plethora of BMW and Porsche toy cars ranging in size from Matchbox, to ride on cars, to a battery-powered BMW M4 that can go in reverse and play music. His newborn photos included dad’s racing helmet and gloves. He has BMW racing shoes, and probably isn’t long off from a racing helmet. Among his first words were “car” and while he can’t write his own name (he’s now 4) he can distinguish between a BMW M4 versus an i8, a Porsche GT3 versus a Boxster, and so on.
We now have two race car drivers―er, I mean sons, and both are little car fanatics in the making. When we were selecting names for our second son I tried to convince Matt to name him Ayrton after the Brazilian race car driver, Ayrton Senna. He didn’t go for the name, but he still wound up with another car guy. JW is now 2 years old and one of his first words was “car-car” and one of his favorite quarantine past times has become sitting at the end of the driveway with me watching cars go by and exclaiming “whoa car-car!”. He goes so fast on his ride-on BMW that we have to make him wear a helmet. Grandpa bought the boys a stack of pylons and we build autocross courses in our driveway with slaloms, curves, and straightaways.
My love affair with a car-loving man has blossomed into a car-loving family of four. Ryan loves a day of autocross and being out at the track as much as Matt. I’m sure JW will follow suit once he graduates from Pampers and naps. He heard the sounds of autocross from the womb as I watched Matt’s first attempt at autocrossing his beloved tuner car, Mila, with him in my belly. He’s already watched a few autocrosses from his stroller. I’ve seen the incredible bond race cars and racing has formed between Matt and his dad. We often joke after a family party that the men went to one room and talked cars, while the women went to the other room and talked babies. I can only hope that racing runs through my boys’ veins and bonds them to their dad and grandpa in the same way. And I will, of course, be on the sidelines cheering them on and maybe even going for a ride as a passenger on the track with Ryan or JW behind the wheel some day!