Re - Release of Dangerous Curves January on Amazon!

            Welcome to Dangerous Curves, Live Large, Be Dangerous!   facebook-logo.png twitter-logo.png  

xx_terrio_web_bannor_-_driven_-_1_AAAA.jpg

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS ISSUE

Terri O' Supports All LGBT-I / Diversity - Minorities / Women's Civil Rights Issues!

    
xx_terrio_website_-_excerpts.png


 xx_terrio_website_about_-_memoir_-_Copy.jpg

 


Terri O's inspiring memoir Dangerous Curves, is filled with compelling and dramatic real life stories surrounding her incredible journey on this big green ball hurtling through the cosmos called planet Earth. Below are a few of the compelling excerpts surrounding her against the odds life from this critically acclaimed piece of literary history!


A Haunting Dream

I’m 16 years old, my life has crashed down around me and my parents now realize something has to be done … my racing is gaining national attention, I just finished 4th in the nation at the National Championships, a hell of a feat by a kid from Mississippi competing against the hot shots from California and New York … I have the ability to go all the way to the Indy 500, but my gender, my crazy biology has caught up to me and I had a major melt down … now I’m seeing a Dr. In Memphis to see what in the hell to do with me, but I’m not quite ready to fess up completely … everyone is at their wits end. As a small town family from Mississippi, this is touchy stuff, life changing!

 

Over the next month and a half, I saw Dr Martin six times. Instead of having me visit him twice a month, he had decided we needed to dive into this situation hard and heavy for at least the first month or so.

During this six-week period Dad and I made a few trips over to a testing facility run by the University of Tennesseein downtown Memphis, on Front Street, just a block off of the Mississippi River. Those tests drained the life out me. They were long and repetitive, and reminded me of the achievement tests we took in school, which were just a waste of time. During one of the appointments at the testing facility, they dilated my eyes without telling me why they did that. It was almost 24 hours before I could see a damn thing again.

“I’ve had enough of this,” I told Dad.

By then, Dad had had enough too. He was seeing first hand how hard I was trying to get my life back on track. Plus, these doctor’s visits conjured up old and painful memories for him, from my days of seeing allergy and asthma doctors throughout the South when I screamed for relief from the needles and the pain. Doctors and nurses had pulled and poked me with needles and stethoscopes to the point where I screamed at the top of my lungs to please stop hurting me, while my parents looked on in horror. After that came the pneumonia, when I damn near died. As a family we had suffered through enough doctors and hospitals and medical tests for three lifetimes.

However, as bad as I hated taking those tests, I didn’t hate seeing Dr. Martin so much as I thought I would.

In fact, by the end of September, I had begun to open up somewhat and was revealing a few things to him – not the “I want to be a girl, or my biology is screwed up” part, but bullying and teasing. That bullying was still eating at me. Plus I had developed some pretty strong compulsive behaviors. For example, my hair which was now cut in a shag like David Cassidy’s on “The Partridge Family” had to be just right -- not one hair could be out of place. My clothes had to be perfect, my shirt had to be tucked in just right.  At times I couldn’t leave the mirror in fear that my hair and clothes would somehow get ruffled up before I could get out the bathroom door at school. That compulsive behavior caused me to always be late to class. So, Dr Martin and I were steadily pulling a little of that pent-up fear and frustration out into the open.

However, the most dramatic thing I was dealing with was a reoccurring dream that I’ve been having for over two years -- ever since I had gone to my first Junior High dance out at Hillingdale Country Club.

In the dream, I would sit right up in the middle of my bed and feel as if I was sitting in the middle of the country club floor. Kids, all of my friends and more importantly, the older boys who were bullying me danced around me, gawking and teasing me. Some of the kids in the dream just ignored me, some laughed at me and teased me about my girly legs. Some just stared at me as if to wonder why I was wearing a girl’s nightgown. That dream was so real that I felt I could reach out and touch these people. Every time it popped up, I could not escape having it. In the morning, it was all I could do get up out my bed after a night of fighting through that dream.

The people in my dream were the same people I had to see and deal with every day, once I left the safety of my house and went to school, church or to work. That dream was killing me little by little. I cannot count the times after a night of having that dream that I would just drive straight by my high school and head out to the back roads ofCorinthand just drive around until I mustered up the courage to finally make it to my classes. At times I did think about driving out in the country somewhere and killing myself.

Ironically -- by my senior year I was not being teased any more. I had become one of the popular kids in school and was excelling in my racing, which gave me some machismo in the right circles. Yet, that damn dream kept up its steady pace, as real and as hurtful now as it had ever been. Its impact and the stress it caused was actually stronger than ever.

When Dr Martin heard about the dream, he was sure he was onto something.

“It we could get to the source of this fear, the dream will stop haunting you,” he said.  “And we could possibly resolve your feminine desires.”

I sat there in my chair listening to him but in the back of my head, I actually thought he was full of crap. To me, that dream was not the key that unlocked my feminine soul. That dream was a defense mechanism which my heart and soul had kicked into gear. For sure, I wanted it to stop haunting me. I was almost at the point of not wanting to sleep just to avoid it.

Later, looking back on that time, I realized what a big influence the dream had on a habit I started that winter -- staying up all night in the race shop at home and at the Haines Brothers Kart shop and working until the sun rose the next morning. Not only could I get a lot of work done, but I wouldn’t run into that dream.

So far, the doctor visits were not making the dream disappear. However, I was hopeful, and so was my mom and dad who were taking time to go to the doctor and to the testing with me. They were pinning their hopes and dreams on me getting better, getting on with my life like most boys do. I was feeling the pressure to not disappoint them.

 It scared me half to death to have any of them know the truth -- that somehow something had gone drastically wrong at birth, in my mom’s womb. Hell, I had been born two months premature and my mom had almost lost me at least six times during her pregnancy. She had over twenty blood transfusions while carrying me, I had been sick since the day I was born. There was cause in all those circumstances, other than just me conjuring up these perverted thoughts in my head.  There was more to this than the devil trying to take over my life both mentally and physically.

I was living in the midst of the male kingdom where men ruled the den and women submitted to their Southern Baptist husbands. The words “gay” or “lesbian,” and “transgender” or “intersex,” which seemed to be my situation seldom came up. If it did, it was in the form of a joke or spewed out as a venomous mist, ensuring that those words and those people were exorcised into oblivion. In other words, people from my neck of the woods hated gays and lesbians and they thought transgender and intersex people were foolish freaks and clowns who were all headed straight to hell. These perverted souls were clearly riding shotgun with the devil himself on a sightseeing tour of Hell. It meant nothing to these fools that biology played apart in this, I knew I was screwed no matter what.

So I had to fix this gender issue and get on with my life as a race driver and the heir to the Jim Hayes legacy. My mom and dad, as well as my dad’s best buds, were depending on me taking all of them to the Indy 500. For sure, I had the talent and the charisma to get there, I just needed a pile of money and an end to the girl stuff. If I did that, I could be racing at Indy or Daytona with in five years.

     

By the middle of October, I had completed all those stupid psychological tests and was declared sane and not a threat to society. I never knew exactly what those tests revealed. Dr. Martin just told me that he was very pleased with how I had hung in there with him.

However, too afraid, actually frightened out of my mind … I never really told him about my different biology, I just want to get this crap over with. More ironically, he never preformed any genetic or biological examinations and I wasn’t pushing for them either. That was a compelling and tragic missed opportunity … for all of us. My parents and I were avoiding the obvious, avoiding a resolution to this insanity we were living in. There was no resolution and even more tragic, there was no absolution from those who had let this issue get this far without fixing it! In my case, silence was golden, silence was self preservation for me, and my parents … and the doctors who had looked after me since I was born!

In the mean time, we had made progress and hashed out some of the pressure I was feeling from my parents to fit in with the community, and we had put that aggression issue to rest. But, the issues that lay deeply imbedded in my soul over that dream still haunted both of us. That scene in the dream with kids staring and gawking at me had made me gun-shy about trusting people. For someone who desperately needed trust and acceptance, the bullying had damaged my ability to let my guard down for fear of being judged and ridiculed.

So, with all my might, I was holding back my truest feelings from shining through the hurtful fog of my life. I totally shut down the flow of information going to Dr Martin that could have resolved my dilemma. If I did let my guard down, I would lose every single bit of respect and dignity I had fought for over the past few years. Worse yet -- if any of those boys in my neighborhood or at the YMCA or at school found out what was going on in my life, they would beat the crap out me instead of just picking on me.

Some where between that summer day when my parents intervened, and the middle of October, I missed the first real and prophetic opportunity to fix my life. I would come to regret my missed opportunity for years to come. 

 

The last week of June, 1983 … One month later

   

I’m the biggest scandal in my town history … and my life is falling apart at the seems …

Life is such a fickle blink of the eye, it will turn on you right in the midst of a Sunday drive and slam you to the ground with an unrelenting force of hurt and humility and hold you there begging for mercy with every beat of your heart. No matter what you do or how you persevere, it seems like there is only malice standing in front of you laughing at your foolish idealism, your trying to beat back the demons hell bent on destroying your life. Life challenges your faith, your belief in goodness and the American dream, which is supposed to be that you finally make it, you beat the odds, you even make a difference in other people’s lives while we all live on this little round ball in the middle of a cosmic explosion.

 

One second, one moment in time, one conversation with one person or one event will change your life forever.  It will leave you and your loved ones either joyous because of something wonderful or sad and broken because of a personal tragedy. Ultimately the one-second test of life belongs to you and you alone … for sure everyone gets their one second … what you do with it is up to you!

 

My dad was still pissed off at me, and I hadn’t been back down to the tool and die shop since my confrontation with Tommy. He was drunker than ever, and according to the macho bull crap floating around this gossipy red neck community and it was my fault that he was so miserable, an alcoholic … a mean ass alcoholic. 

My dad was the town’s Clint Eastwood, the coolest and most macho man in Corinth, and even though we had been dealing with my gender issue since I was three years old, he had made up his mind that he was having no part of it, no matter the cause or reason. The peer pressure from the good ole boys in town was tearing him apart at the seams. He was trying to run a business in this environment and you know that could not have been easy. At the factories there in town where he did business, I was the talk of the break rooms and by now the gossip had gone to a new level of craziness.

 

There were rumors that I had been working as a drag queen down in New Orleans, that I had been caught at a local rest stop having sex with tourist. I had no way of combating the venom as it continued to spew with every Sunday morning sunrise.

In addition, there was enough Monday-morning quarter backing and back seat driving about my life going on by all of Dad’s friends to fill up every seat at the Indy 500, especially from his best running bud Dewayne. Dewayne and the bunch of redneck hard legs up at the local speed shop were my dad’s drinking buddies, they all thought he was the greatest man of all time. He was their hero, and they were very protective of him.                                                                                             

So, my dad was making a point to me. Do the girl stuff and don’t show up to work, then you don’t get to race. Don’t do the girl stuff and do show up to work, then I’ll buy the parts for your car and we will go racing. The only thing wrong with that approach was that it wasn’t working.  I was sinking deeper and deeper into depression. The little escapade with Tommy down at my dad’s shop had ripped my heart out and I was determined to not go back down there. It was all I could do to get up in the morning, I couldn’t eat, and most of my friends were afraid to be seen with me. The only thing that gave me purpose and a safe place to hide – racing -- was being kept from me.

Now, it was only one week until the Midget National Championships up in Charlotte, North Carolina and I couldn’t believe we were not going. Back in 1980 I had been the big Kat Daddy at those races and of course, I missed going last year because I had sold the race car and was in the middle of this nervous-breakdown situation. Now here I was again. If I could only race, then I could fight my way through this mess, even regain my reputation and my dad’s respect, and show those Southern redneck sons of bitches I “STEEL” had it in me to kick their sorry asses. But there didn’t seem to be any way out now. Who was I kidding ... I was not even in shape emotionally or physically to drive a 100-lap midget race against the best drivers in the nation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Monday morning , 9:30 AM … four days until the Nationals … I managed to get myself out of bed and out to the race shop only thirty feet behind our house. But I just sat there drinking a coke and starring at 

my car.

This was going to be a day of reckoning, I could feel it in my bones. My dad and I had a shouting match the night before over my inability to get to the machine shop and work. My mom was just as pissed off at me if not more as my dad was. This just might be the day to leave it all behind and let everyone else deal with earth school. It was obvious that I didn’t seem to belong down here. Every step of my life had come at an emotional and physical cost, and now, my reputation had been crushed in a quagmire of right wing fundamentalism. All of my racing accomplishments, even my hard-won National Championship, were now looked on as unimportant. No one was worried about me, about the reasons why I felt and looked so feminine or why I was so depressed … everyone was worried about my mom and dad and how hurt they were. The amazing part was that I was worried about them too; it was breaking my heart that they were being humiliated.

 After sitting there brooding and staring at my exotic racer for a while, I decide that I needed to wash that little H-bomb. The idea just popped into my head … I mean, how could I kill myself and have everyone think that I could possibly leave behind a dirty race car?  My reputation for clean fast race cars was legend throughout the racing community, so leaving behind a dirty car would be completely out of character for Terry Hayes.

So I tried to summon the energy for this task -- turned on the air compressor, aired up the tires and rolled the blue, white and yellow racer out of the shop.  Then I rounded up a wash bucket, unrolled the water hose and began cleaning off the caked mud left from the race over a month ago where I had broken my engine. I even went over to the radio in the back of the shop and cranked up the volume to FM100, the hottest rock within two hundred miles, trying to create some positive energy. But the more I tried, the harder it became to control my depression. Little by little I began to weep as I tried to wash my racer. It seemed as if crying was all I had done for the past year, and here I was again, weeping uncontrollably on the last day of June 1982 at10:30in the morning, with no hope of surviving this earth mess.

As my knees began to buckle, I realized I was about to pass out from the anxiety. The mid morning heat was already up to 90 degrees and our sultry Southern humidity was so thick that you could cut it with a knife. The Mississippi sun was beating down on my back and all I could think about was getting back to my room, back to my bed and my sanctuary. It was only thirty feet to the back door but it might as well have been a one hundred mile trek. Yet I somehow stumbled through the house, falling on the kitchen floor, then knocking over a coffee table and one of my mom’s lamps as I careened through the den.

In my room I fell into my bed, shaking and soaked form the heat and humidity. There were so many uncontrollable emotions rushing through my body that I thought I was on the verge of having an asthma attack. This was about the tenth time in the last year that I had come this close to passing out like this, from the anxiety. Losing it like that always scared the hell out of me every time it happened. But this time I was so far gone all I wanted to do was go to sleep forever. It was twenty years past time to do something about the insanity of my life. Time to let everyone off the hook and let them get back to normal. I had been a burden to everyone ever since I was born; they would be glad to get rid of me.                                                                                                               

There was a loaded shotgun in my bedroom closet that belonged to my dad. I knew exactly where it was. In fact, I had opened that closet door more than once over the past year just to make sure it was there.

Now several daunting minutes passed as I lay there analyzing about how to kill my self.  I could blow my head off … that would be instant and without pain. Or I could go and get one of my mom’s butcher Knives, or one of my dad’s special handmade knives he kept hidden in a desk in the den next to my room. Then with a sense of calmness, it came to me. It would definitely be the butcher knife and a couple swipes of the wrist, or straight into my heart. This would be better for the family, not nearly as messy, God knows that would be important. Being tidy would definitely be easier for my mom.

Now, just as suddenly as the anxiety attack had rushed over me, a new rush of energy careened through my soul. My mind was clear and focused on the task at hand. Getting out of bed, I looked at myself in the mirror over my chest of drawers, picked up a tube of ruby-red lipstick, and starred back into the mirror as if to have one final look at what could have been if things. Softly I applied the lipstick to my lips, then turned and walked to the kitchen, retrieved one of my mom’s ten-inch-long butcher knives and calmly walked back to my room.

Without a second thought, I clicked the light off, pulled down the window shade, turned back the covers and laid down in my bed -- the bed I had slept in since I was twelve years old. The bed where I had hidden my girl underwear between the mattresses like a junkie hiding their drugs so that my mom couldn’t find them. The bed where I had passed out while gasping for air from too many asthma attacks to count … where I and my goofy Beagle, Slick, had recuperated in after my nearly fatal racing crash down in Texas. This was where my sweet dreams of becoming a woman had played in my head night after night, year after year, where I had cried myself to sleep too many times to count. This was where I had dreamed about being normal and living life to the fullest. Now this was where I would die.   

                                  

                                                       Bam!

                                                                            

Out of nowhere I heard a loud slam of the door, and feet rumbling across the floor. Someone had rushed into the house like they were on the way to a fire. In a flash there was a quick knock at my bedroom door and just as suddenly the door swung open. The light from the den rushed in as if the light of Jesus himself was entering the room. I was completely startled, shocked … almost frightened -- only seconds before I had been prepared to end my life and now there was this brilliant light consuming the room. Just as quickly, as if I was dodging an out-of-control racer on the track, I jerked the butcher knife out of view under the covers and pulled the bedspread over my face trying to hide my painted lips.

“Terry, hey … are you in there?”  It was my dad’s voice. “If you want to, go up to the speed shop and get the parts you need to fix your car, I called up there and said I would pay for them … and, if you want to, we will get your car ready and go to the Nationals up in Charlotte and then go on down to Daytona Beach to the NASCAR races for vacation … you need to hurry if your going to have time to get ready to go.” 

Right out of nowhere, my dad had come home to check on me … to offer an olive branch of peace, to bring an astonishing piece of divine intervention. The odds against this occurring were a trillion to one. He never came home during the middle of the day. This cosmic intervention saved my life and obviously, there was more left for me to do on this earth.

Just as quickly as my dad had rushed into my room, he turned, walked away through the den, out the back door and headed back to work.

With the sun shining angelically through the den windows and beaming into my room, I lay there stunned by what had just happened to me.

 One second, one moment, one conversation, one act of kindness, one tiny insignificant conversation in an insignificant part of the world had once again changed the course of a life … my destiny. Just when you think no one is thinking about you, no one is concerned about your well being, your Clarence, your guardian angel taps them on the shoulder, whispers in their ear and tells them that you’re in serious trouble and that they should help you. My dad had felt the tap on his shoulder … thank God he paid attention! Blood is always thicker than water, even if it is diluted by alcohol. Dad had finally realized that Dewayne and Tommy and all those other chauvinistic bubbas in town were a bunch of fools. They were all driving a wedge between us for the sake of their own self-serving egos. He had had enough of the Terry bashing. I was his child, his flesh and blood, his one and only child! Once again Dad was attempting to fix the situation in the only way he knew how -- to keep me racing.                                     

 Now the ball was in my court. I had to get my skinny ass out of bed, take off the lipstick and nail polish and go up to the speed shop. I had to endure the humiliation and trash talk I was sure to get and buy those race car parts … and go to the Nationals, and win! Now the ball was in my court.                                                                                                               

 

And it was a whole new ball game now. For sure, when I went to the speed shop, Dewayne and his buddies ragged me unmercifully. But I kept my mouth shut, let it roll off me, bought the parts, and high tailed it out of there as fast as I could.

Back at my race shop, I got busy. With the radio blasting, I worked all night, drinking enough coffee to float a battleship and munching on my                                                                                                               

Mom’s famous pimento-cheese sandwiches. Focused and angry, I tried not to think about what I had endured and escaped over the past year, and only thought about winning. At3:00 AMI finished the repairs, rounded up my tools and spare parts and loaded everything onto the trailer. At four in the morning, I jumped into the van, plugged in my Marty Robbins tape.

As “El Paso” played on the stereo, my mom and dad, my grandmother and my granddad and me all headed out on our 12-hour trip up to Charlotte, North Carolina. Just like nothing had ever happened. Just like we had done for twenty years.                                                                                 

 

      O J reading my dairy … October 1987

 

I’ve been on the west coast winning races … but no one will speak to me?

The weekend before my birthday, which was Monday, July 29th , I went on another road trip up to Yuba City. O. J. and my other buddies there in San Jose had made plans to celebrate my birthday, so on Sunday night I made a special drive back down to San Jose for the party.

When I pulled into O. J’s. driveway at around seven thirty a.m., I was surprised to see him sitting out on the front porch smoking a cigarette. It was even more surprising to see all my bags and belongings laying around on the lawn. 

When I got out of the van, I said, “Hey O. J., what’s going on?”

He looked me dead in the eye and said, “You’re going to have to leave. This is not going to work out here with you. You just need to put your things in your van and get on down the line.”

The look in his eyes stunned me, almost frightened me.  At one point in our conversation, he looked like he was going to hit me. So I just threw my things into the van, told him I appreciated his hospitality, and left.

There was no reason for his behavior that I could see. I had been the perfect house guest, and we had planned to celebrate my birthday. His wife had just come home from her trip – did she not like me for some reason?  Had the rumors finally gotten through to the California boys?   Racing is a small world so it was just a matter of time before the Memphis Taliban got the word out to the west coast. O. J. was not the kind of guy to handle this issue well. 

By the time I got back to the expressway, I was having a panic attack, just driving aimlessly for about ten miles.  I didn’t want to drive back up to Yuba City but I also didn’t want to stay in San Jose. My stomach was queasy and I was tired as hell from no sleep the night before.  So, when I spotted a Motel 6 at the next exit, I got a room and tried to sleep off the nightmare.                                                                                                              

When I awoke that afternoon around 1:00, I felt like I had been run over by a truck. Laying there in that motel bed it dawned on me that if O. J. had gotten a call from someone back in the Mid South who was spreading rumors, my racing career was in serious trouble. Finally I managed to get out of bed, took a quick shower and drove to a mall just a few miles away.  There I walked around most of the afternoon trying to figure out what to do. 

That night I got some Mexican take-out and crashed inside my motel room. Calling home to check in with my parents, I wished my mom happy birthday – hers was only one day before mine. I didn’t want them to worry, so I didn’t mention the drama I was in. At least I had a damn good team to drive for, and I was making some money. If push came to shove, I could always go back to my buddies Larry and Rodney and shack up in their apartment again. Right then, I just wanted to sleep.

That Monday, on my birthday, I slept late, then drove to San Francisco and toured the city for the first time in my life.  There was a really good sea-food joint down at the Wharf, where all the locals ate.   I treated myself to two dozen raw oysters along with several glasses of Merlot and a few Irish coffees … all by myself!

 

Two months later …

 

Consani and his bunch were as hard-nosed as you get, but they were also the funniest bunch of nuts I had ever been around. When I got there, he introduced me to Billy Vukovitch III, who was his kick-ass super modified hot shoe and destined to win the Indy 500 like his granddad had done on two occasions back in the early ‘50s. I was starving and so was Consani, so he loaded us up in his Lexus and took us to his favorite restaurant for breakfast which ended up being cheeseburgers. We all got to know one another with an array of insults and unadulterated humor, and then headed to the track.

There I got fitted in the car, warmed up and then hit the track for practice.  When I stood on the gas, I realized that this car was an absolute rocket ship. I immediately ran the entire first lap without lifting off the gas. I knew I had me a real race car to drive on that night. When it was time to qualify, I took fast time over World of Outlaws bad ass Jac Haudenchild and never lifted for the whole two-lap run,

When I pulled back into the pit area, Consani came up and looked me straight in the eye. “You’re fucking crazy, you know that?  You just drove around this killer dirt track at 150 miles per hour.  You’re fucking nuts.”

Then, with a big grin on his face, he walked off. I had just impressed a guy that could not be impressed.

In the main event, I was winning when the damn car broke the rear-end gears and we fell out of the race. Mr. Consani paid me two grand for my services and the thrill of seeing me flatfoot his car. It was a hell of a night!

 

Back to San Jose and the silent treatment.  Hell, this was California where everyone is supposedly welcome. Something had to be up and it must be serious.

At Chico, as we prepared the car, the crew never said more than two words to me.  But I had one of the biggest races in America to run so I couldn’t let it get to me.

That evening, in practice laps, the car ran perfect.  As we waited for the main event, I was sitting on the right front tire, when I spotted a crew member from Virgil Owens’ team who had not given me the cold shoulder, yet. He was on their four-wheeler driving through the pits.  Quickly I ran out and jumped out in front of him. He slammed on the brakes and slid right up to me where I grabbed the handlebars and looked him in the eye.

 

“What in the hell is going on with everyone giving me the cold shoulder?” I demanded.  “You know what is going on.”

He sheepishly hung his head, avoiding eye contact.

“O. J. read your diary,” he said.  “He told everyone that you’re a fag, that you wear women’s panties … that you want to be a girl.  I’m sorry ... you’re a great racer and you don’t deserve to be treated like this.”

At that moment, my entire life flashed before me.  Suddenly I remembered that, just before my birthday, I had fallen asleep in O. J.’s TV room while writing in my diary. The next morning I rushed off and forgot the diary there, with all my deepest, darkest secrets in it … and O. J. had found it. 

I couldn’t say a word -- just walked back to my car and began putting on my driving gear.  On the surface I was calm as a fighter pilot but the stresses of my whole life were gathering together, building, running through my body like a wildfire. Deep down, I felt like I had just been raped by everyone there at the track.  I was exposed.  My whole life was fodder.  In a world of sports intimidation where you get the advantage on your competitor by being more dangerous and braver, more macho than they were, I had just lost my advantage. This was a dramatic and defining moment in my life, and a game changer.  From this point onward, my life would be different in the racing community, and I knew it.  Never again would people see me as the JT Hayes who had gone last to first to win the Summer Nationals at Chico. 

Yet right now I had to get in that car and race ... and try to be a bad ass. Not in a thousand years could I let anyone there inChicoknow I was about to burst into tears, that my life was crumbling into a million pieces. It would be hardest thing I had done yet in my temperamental life.

Just as they pushed me onto the track, my boiling emotions surged through my body, and in a moment of pure and raw physical emotion, I threw up in my helmet spewing my guts through out the racers cockpit and all over my uniform. It felt like I was going to die of anxiety right there in the race car. I could barely catch my breath, I just wanted to die from the embarrassment and knowing full well that my machismo, my racing cache was damaged beyond repair. My edge of staring the rattle snake down some how now seemed damaged it not gone for ever. I as crushed down to the core of my soul and for a moment I actually thought about just driving back around to the pits and parking the car.

However, once the race started, like a true racer, like a machine years of discipline took over, and I managed to get hold of my emotions. By lap 5,

 

I had moved up to tenth and it looked as if I might get a top five. But on the sixth lap, Leland Mcspaden crashed with another car right in front of me. There was no place to go, so I t-boned them and ripped the right front wheel off the car. 

And that was it.

Sitting there in the wrecked car, breathing the smell of my own vomit, I realized that I couldn’t face or fight the rumor-mongers any more.

“Screw it,” I thought.  “I’m going home, I’m real damn tired of this crap.” 

Mississippi, at my home, race shop and office would be the best place to regroup for the winter. I needed to have a few sit-downs with my good doctor to get my life back in check. Now, my racing future, just as thought I had my professional career on track seemed over, how in hell could I ever over come what O. J. had done to me. My future looked very, very bleak ... my heart and soul were hemorrhaging at their very core, survival would once again look directly into my eyes testing my will to live.

 

1989 … Two years since the OJ experience

 

… I had been to hell and back five times over and had moved back to California back in the spring to live and work full time as a female and get on with my corrective surgery. But had gotten hard up for money so I started racing again, as JT … but living as Terri during the week … but the pressure was getting to me. The racing community were being assholes, my dad had rejected me and my heart was breaking into a million pieces, something had to give … I’m in Chico, California getting to make my qualifying lap for a big Sprint Car Race … this was what transpired over the next twenty four hours!

 

My first lap was two tenths faster than Brent’s and my second lap was a tenth better than my first. On my cool-down lap I glanced up at the scoreboard and I knew I had made it fastest.  Those rednecks in the grand stands were going even crazier than when Brent had qualified.

I was really feeling my oats so when I pulled off the track, I noticed that Brent’s truck and race car was parked right in front of where I was headed through the pit area. His guys seemed demoralized and I thought that I should rub it in their faces just a wee bit. So I gassed it, spun the rear tires and drove straight through their pits slinging a cloud of dust all through the $100,000 trailer and onto their race car. There isn’t nothing like a little feminine revenge on a bunch of macho boys.

Needless to say, the fists almost started a-flying.  But fortunately cooler heads did prevail. There isn’t nothing like a little rivalry to get the blood flowing on a hot Saturday night.

That night in the main race, I led most of the event but with about ten laps to go, the drive line broke, sending me to the pits and out of the race ... damn. We were very disappointed but we had a good weekend anyway.  So after meeting all the fans and signing a few autographs, we loaded up the trailer and headed back to San Leandro.

But there was tension in the air between Burt and me. Right before the start of the event, he and I had butted heads when he wanted to replace one of the high-tech racing shocks with one he had modified. There was no way I was going to put that piece of crap on the race car. We had a few words and I walked off with him calling me an arrogant little prick. I should have been more diplomatic but I was tired of his arrogance.

The whole way back to the race shop that night, Grumpy and I talked about how fast we had been and what we needed to do to be super-fast up in Skagit. He was smart and committed to the team and I truly liked him. More importantly I knew he was going to look after me no matter what! 

But, as we talked about racing, I was feeling the crunch of Father’s Day weekend creeping up on me, and missing Terri so much I was about to explode from the pressure. Racing full time was putting a roof over my head and some financial rewards.  But I was beginning to realize all over again -- just like before in Charlotte-- that I needed more than racing in my life. My gender was being starved to death because I refused to be totally committed. Plus, this double-life situation was crazy.

Lake Speed was right. I couldn’t live on the fence. 

 

 

A Million Pieces

 

I had always wondered why my Maker was forcing me to choose between the two ... or was He?  I was working my mind and heart over time thinking about it. Maybe I just needed to be more honest with the people who loved me, instead of leading them to think I was doing all right, only to go off the deep end and re-spring my feminine intentions on them when they were unprepared to handle it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

We drove all through the night, and reached the race shop at 7:00 AM. worn out and glad to be back. Grumpy grabbed his bags and hightailed it to his home, and I stumbled off to my little room and collapsed into my tiny bed exhausted both emotionally and physically. Before my head hit the pillow, I was sound asleep!

At about 11:00 AM, I suddenly awoke staring straight up at the ceiling.

It was Father’s Day and I dreaded getting out of bed. But I had only eaten a fish sandwich the day before, so my stomach was growling. I figured I would take a quick shower and walk over to the Western Sizzling only a few blocks away for a quick lunch, and then take the BART train up to the city to hang out with my friend Chris for the day. Whatever I did, I had to get out of that room.

By the time I got to the restaurant, it was 1:00 pm.

There was a short line of people waiting to eat, but what the heck, it was a Sunday and it was Father’s Fay ... people go out to eat. So I endured the crowd and after about twenty minutes I got a table and ordered my food

 

 

-- a small rib eye cooked medium rare with French fries and a Coke. I barely weighed 117 pounds with my clothes on, so the steak and fries would be good for me.

The place was packed and after a few minutes, the crowd began to close in on me. This was a family place and I was the only one in the entire restaurant sitting by myself. By the time the waiter brought my food, my hands were shaking, there were tears welling up in my eyes and I felt like everyone was staring at me. After I took a few bites of my steak, I thought I was going to throw it back up. One of my anxiety attacks was coming on, and I needed to get the heck out of there before I passed out on the floor.

Rushing over to the cashier, I paid my bill and virtually ran outside and sat down on a bench by the door, all the while trying to fight back the tears. The sun was glaring and brutal and I didn’t have my sunglasses so I could barely see through the glare, but thank God, the air was clear and crisp and allowed me to catch my breath and to collect my thoughts.

Damn, I thought, what in the name of Holy Jesus is going on here ... what am I going to do with myself?

If I couldn’t talk to my dad within the next few minutes I was going to break into a million pieces. I needed to tell him I loved him and missed him so much that I could barely stand it … to tell him how good I was driving the race car, which would make him happy. Just maybe, just maybe he would forgive me.

Rushing back in the restaurant, asked the cashier to give me change for five one-dollar bills so I could use the pay phone outside. As I collected the change, I couldn’t keep my hands from shaking, even dropping a few quarters on the ground. But I was slowly beginning to get my composure back, so I made my way out to the booth and began to put quarters in the phone. Confidently I dialed my parents’ number. The anticipation was killing me.

It rang four or five times, when suddenly, my dad picked up the receiver. In the baritone voice I knew so well, he simply said, “Hello.”

I quickly said, “Dad, it’s JT ... what’s going on back there?”

The phone went dead. 

“Hello, hello,” I said, “is anyone there ... Dad?”

At first I thought we had been cut off. So I quickly put in more quarters and redialed ... ring after ring after ring with no answer. 

Then just like before, my dad picked up and said, “Hello.”

“Happy Father’s Day,” I said. 

Just like before, the phone went dead. An eerie silence.

This time I realized that he had hung up on me.

I was beginning to feel the disabling anxiety flow over my body once more, and my hands were shaking like crazy. I had to give it one more try. He had never been that pissed at me before -- at some point he would surely come to his senses and talk to me. He must be drinking…that would explain his actions. Hell, he was my dad, he loved me.

In desperation, I redialed one last time. This time, it only rang once before my mom picked up the receiver.

“Terri, is that you?” she said.  “I’ll call you tomorrow. I can’t talk to you today. Your dad is drinking and he doesn’t want to talk to you or anyone. He doesn’t want you calling here either. I have to live with him, so I will call you tomorrow.”

Rejected and crushed, I began to feel light-headed and my knees buckled under me. I tried to hold onto the phone booth but lost my grip and fell onto the concrete sidewalk with a thud. By this time, I was crying uncontrollably and the crowd in the restaurant was noticing the drama just outside their windows. I was laying there flat on my back looking directly into the beating sun, bawling my eyes out. All the while the receiver dangled right above me with my mom screaming my name on the other end of the line.

This was a scene right out of a Hitchcock movie, except it was real and it was happening to me. I had gone over the edge. My body, my mind, and my heart could not take any more. All hopes that I could ever have my dad’s respect and love again seemed to be gone, crushed. The rejection, the saber of life had pierced my soul like never before.

For what seemed like an eternity, I lay there staring straight up. A crowd of curious and horrified people gathered around me, wondering what in the hell was going on. I could barely see them through all the tears and the glaring sun. One lady was asking someone to call an ambulance. That shocked me into trying to get up. Some big guy grabbed me by the arm and helped me balance myself.  If I didn’t get back to my room fast, I would damn sure wake up in the psychiatric ward.

So I just took off, half running and half walking, leaving all of those freaked-out people standing there. I could have been on drugs for all they knew!

It took about fifteen minutes of bloody hell to make it back to my room and I was screaming out loud the whole way. “I can’t take this anymore! God please help me get through this, please help me! Oh God I just can’t take this any more!” 

By the time I got to the front gate of the shop, all I could think about was killing myself.  Everyone hated me. I would never be able to restore my reputation in the racing community.  I was a firkin’ joke no matter what I did. I was the best damn racer to ever grace the entire state of Mississippi, but no one would embrace that fact ever again like they had before my reputation was smeared. If I killed myself, everyone would be happier, including me. Just get it over with.

 For twelve solid hours, I sat there in that dark room running all of that craziness through my head, reliving my life with excruciating recall. I ached to my very core with fear of ever walking out the door of my tiny room again. One minute I wanted to kill myself, and in the next breath, I became defiant and yelled at the top of my voice, “Screw all of them!” Through it all, I clutched a knife I had retrieved from a tool box in the race shop. Every tick of the clock could have been my last. 

I don’t know how, except for God’s grace and my guardian angels looking over me, I survived the worst day of my life, and when you’re dealing with this gender identity issue under the circumstances I had been in, that’s saying a lot! Just like the cleansing of a heavy spring rain and the clean crisp smell of a new dawn, the morning light brought a new vision, a new direction ... hope that I needed to give this life one more try.

I made the decision to go home to Corinth knowing all too well that it would be difficult to regroup once more.  But I had to try and fix things with my dad and, to give that damn NASCAR dream one more try.

It would be extremely risky to say the least but I just felt that my angels were guiding me toward that decision. That was why I had survived that horrible night -- to fix things with my parents, to see my granny once again, to get back to my trusty race shop and office I had abandoned trying to find my way in the world -- to re focus and rekindle my dreams. That was my hope; that would be my goal, my connection to the now-broken bond between me and my father. I wanted my hero back in my life, I craved it and I was willing to make the sacrifices to make that happen. How and when that would happen, I didn’t have a clue but, by God, I was going to do it even if I died trying.

I called my mom and told her the news.

“Mom, I’m coming home. I’m giving NASCAR another try ...”

 

 

1992 … I’ve actually made it to NASCAR Sprint Cup only one year before

 

… but now, I’ve made the decision to go forward with my corrective surgery and had been living as a female full time for over a year. Racing as a female had been difficult and my home town friends we making my life bloody hell … it all came to ahead in July of 1992, bullying from Dewayne continued to manifest ... I’m tired of this crap, so is my grandmother!

 

The Midget Nationals

 

It was July 1992. My nerves were getting a little frayed, but at least my race cars were keeping me busy and sane. I spent most of my time in the race shop and my cool office behind our house. I was safe there … or so I thought.

The national championship midget races were coming up in Illinois, and Dad and I thought I had a good run at them. My heart wasn’t quite in it like before, but I was still fired up about going. Dewayne and my dad’s other racing buddies were going with us. I wanted to compete on a national level against the best in the country no matter if I was a male or a female.

However, a week before the races, Dewayne started hinting around, saying things like, “Do you really want to go?”  “What are you going to do about your hair at the races?”

He was fishing to see if I was going as Terri or as JT. I didn’t think much about it, because I had been going to the races for the past few months as Terri.  I never pushed the envelope as a girl thing -- always wore a loose fitting shirt and blue jeans and tied my hair in a ponytail with a baseball cap stuck on top. However, I did not look like a boy, not even without makeup.

 

Three days before the Nationals, around noon, I was out in the race shop.  It was hot as hell, and I was just about to go in the house for a soda when Dewayne came charging into the driveway, as he sometimes did on his lunch break to see how I was doing on the race car. Today, however, he had a different reason for his visit.

“Terri,” he said, “Dexter and I have decided that you can’t go to the Nationals as a girl.  We’ve talked it over and there ain’t no way you’re going with all of us ... It’s too embarrassing. So I just wanted to let you know that you ain’t going! You’re not doing that to your dad … and for damn sure you’re not doing that to me.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. The anger I felt was not the kind where you lose your cool and start a fight. Instead I began to tremble and knew that if I didn’t get away from him I was going to do something I would regret forever.

So I casually laid down the shop towel that I was cleaning my hands with, and turned my back on him without a word. Leaving the shop, I walked up to the house and locked the door behind me. Inside, as I sat down on the couch, tears were rolling down my face like crazy.

The hurt went especially deep because Dexter was part of the scheme. Hell, Dexter’s blood was flowing through my veins. He was my godfather, my favorite uncle every day of my life. But he had never dealt with my gender issue, he was old school for sure, the biology thing really bothered him, so it wasn’t surprising that he had teamed up with Dewayne. To them, I was a sick puppy. Dewayne’s compassion that he had been dishing out over the past several months had turned out to be nothing but a set-up, to try and do an intervention. For an hour or so, I just sat there flipping the television channels, crying and pissed off at the same time.  One thing was for sure … this was a test of my will to stick to my plan.

Then, as my guardian Angels always do, they showed up. Over the sound of the television I heard Granny beating on the back door. When she got inside she could tell that I had been crying. She also knew that Dewayne had been here.

          “What did he do to you?” Granny roared. “I’m tired of him running over you and stirring up trouble.”

I told her what Dewayne and Dexter had said.

“I’ll be all right,” I told her. “He is just being Dewayne.  So forget about it.” After all, Dexter and Dewayne didn’t have any say in whether I went to the Nationals. My dad and I owned the race car, not Dexter and Dewayne!

Well, me telling granny to forget about it was like telling a python snake not to bite someone between the eyes. She went straight to the phone and called Dewayne up at the Honda dealership and reamed his ass out to kingdom Kong and back. She rubbed Dewayne’s nose in the fact that my dad had financed the entire racing operation not him, plus the race car he was driving belonged to my dad too.

Then she called my dad and gave him hell over the whole damn affair.

“If you don’t straighten out that Dewayne,” she said, “I’m going to put a curse on your head.”

My dad took this real seriously. He had lived with her for almost 40 years and an unhappy mother-in-law who lived right next door was not a pleasant prospect. Needless to say, he took care of it.

We all went to the Nationals and I went as Terri. If Dexter and Dewayne wanted to have a race car to drive, they didn’t have any choice. In the end though, I was just miserable being there with them. At the race, my engine blew up and I finished almost dead last. The entire damn thing was just a bust. Go figure.

                                       

Over the next few months, I lost some focus on racing. It was important to find more ways of making a living, so I wasn’t dependent on my folks and could save towards the surgery.

Ever since I worked for Reid Brothers in high school, I had loved the apparel business and dreamed of having my own clothing store at some point. My friend Dan McLemore, Dewayne’s brother, had a little wholesale apparel business going with his wife Becky. So Dad and I hooked up with Dan and Becky and we were now in the business of matching boxers and T- shirts, which was quite the craze on collage campuses. Over the next few months, Becky and I traveled all around the Mid South selling our matching sets at wholesale apparel markets. But by Christmas, I wasn’t getting along with Becky, she was domineering and demanding, so we started our own apparel concept. With the NASCAR deal getting bigger each day, we could sell sets with driver logos all over them. I was brain-storming to come up with the right concept.

 

That winter of 1992, as we raced the midgets in the Memphis arena, I got my mojo back.  Some trick engine pieces and a cool shock package had my little car hooked up. Into the summer of 1993, I never ran worse than third. I finished third at the National Divisional, won everywhere else and without a gear breaking at the Nationals, would have finished second.

On the home front, things in Corinth had settled down a bit but I still had to watch my step. In Memphis where I socialized quite often, no one had any clue of my past as a male. When my girlfriend Kathy and I hit Beale Street, everyone from waiters to guys I danced with saw me as a 5’ 6” 117-pound girl.

Even at the races in Illinois or up in Kentucky, for all the pressure Dewayne and Dexter had put on my dad about my appearance, no one ever thought I was anything but a girl racer. In fact, at the divisional championships up in Kentucky, as we were going through registration before the race, one of the officials looked at me as Dewayne stood there sweating bullets that someone was going to think I was funny-looking. Naturally I had registered as Terri Hayes.

“Hey girl,” the official said, “you’re not the only girl racer tonight.  Who’s better, you or the other girl racer?”

 “Why me, of course,” I shot back, thinking his statement was just a wee bit sexist.

The official laughed and said, “Well, I hope you kick everybody’s butt tonight.” In the meantime, ole Dewayne was about to blow a gasket and fled back to our trailer as fast as he could.

That night, I finished third. When I came off the track to go to tech inspection, here came Dewayne who had failed to qualify for the event out of hiding.  He slapped a Lake Hill Motors sticker on the side of my car so it would look like he was helping out. That pissed me off and I ripped the decal right off.

“I don’t need your help,” I barked at him. “I can handle the tech inspection by myself.”

The next day Mom, Dad and I along with John Marsh and his family headed out to Nashville to spend the day at Opry Land. Dewayne and his wife and kids declined our invitation to join us for the day. But John Marsh, who was one of the most macho men I knew, supported me in every way. His two small boys traveled with us and thought I was hot buttered popcorn because of my driving skill. In fact, that same weekend I had won a divisional championship in Nashville and the two boys got into a huge argument over which of them was going to get one of the trophies I had won. John had to step in and separate those two little whipper snappers before they killed one another. It had almost turned into the WWF right there in the back of the SUV. It was pretty darn funny.

You just never knew what you were going to get from people. Religion, politics and social prejudice lit a white-hot fire under gender questions, biologically driven or not.

 

 

Fred, grow some hair on your chest

 

That summer of 1993, Dad and I took a local racer under our wings.

Fred was a mechanical engineer from Baldwin,Mississippi who was employed at the NASA plant up the road. He was a true blue Southern redneck who had done a little dirt track stock-car racing, but wasn’t successful, so now he was trying midgets. He was at our race shop constantly, trying to learn more, and to tell you the truth I liked him. He had a good sense of humor and seemed to take a liking to me, with an interest in knowing more about my gender issue. So I took a chance and told he and his lovely wife a little of my life story, and he seemed very respectful.

By the first of August we had Fred running pretty good.

I had also been doing some engine modifications for another guy. Anthony was a construction-company owner from Ripley,Mississippi and I had a special place in my heart for him and his family, because they were good people and always went out of their way to help me any way they could. I never charged Anthony a penny for the engine work I did for him and out of respect, he was always eager to buy dinner or put gas in our race hauler.

  But Fred was getting so he felt like we owed him something.

“Feels like ole Fred is getting the better of us,” my dad said.

Then one hot Tuesday afternoon, around the first of August, Anthony, showed up at my race shop.  After beating around the bush, he said:

“Terri, uh … I don’t how to say this because I don’t want you to think I’m making trouble. But Fred is bad mouthing you behind your back. You and your dad have been good to him when no one else would give him the time of day. Now, he’s talking trash about you every chance he gets. I just felt you should know.”

When Anthony got done talking, I felt like taking a blowtorch to ole Fred’s race parts laying in the corner of my shop. Instead, I kept my cool and thanked Anthony.

That afternoon, when my dad got home from work, I told him. Dad wanted to drive down to Baldwin right then and kick Fred’s tail. However, we decided that we would handle it differently.

Two weeks later we were at a big race at the Baldwin Speedway about 30 miles from Corinth. This was a big fast stock-car track with a hard packed dirt surface – if you crashed here, it could be curtains. I ended up being fastest in qualifying and to my surprise ole Fred was second on the speed charts, so he and I -- little sissy Terri as he had called me to his redneck buddies -- would be starting side by side for the start of the feature event.

Fred was not completely stupid -- he knew that I was probably going to beat his ass. So, like hypocritical politicians do when they need to cover their ass, he swallowed his pride and came to find me at our race hauler. 

“Hey, I got these sponsors on the hook,” he said.  “If I can win tonight they said they would sponsor my car for the next season.  You win all the time and it wouldn’t be a big deal to you if someone else won tonight. Can you help me out?”

I just stood there with my hair in a ponytail and a bit of lipstick on my lips and smiled back at ole Fred and said, “No problem, man, I would be glad to help you out. Just take off at the drop of the green flag and I will jump in behind you and we will make a cool race out of it for the fans.”

“Thanks, Terri,” Fred said, and left grinning like a bear. 

 Ten seconds later, my dad came walking up to see what ole Fred had wanted.  I told him.

My dad looked disgusted. “Well, what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to give Fred a driving lesson,” I said.

My dad just smiled slyly and took a seat in his lawn chair right outside the ramp to watch the race.

During the feature event, with 26 other high-strung racers, I lapped the field including ole Fred in twenty laps and won the event going away. The fans went wild. Afterwards, in a fit of humiliation and disgust, Fred loaded his racer onto his trailer with his redneck tail between his legs and silently left the track.

Anthony came by my hauler, shook my hand, and grinned, “Old Fred got a lesson in life tonight. You’ve just been taking it easy on all of us haven’t you.”

I just grinned back. Yeah, Fred ole buddy, who’s wearing the pants now?  You just got your ass beat by a sissy. 

As it turned out, though, Fred wasn’t the only one in Corinth and around the racing community who was double-dipping me.


Stay tuned for more compelling excerpts from Dangerous Curves ...


                                                 dangerous_curves_back.jpg

 

                                                            12-4-2010_40849_PM-1.jpg

 

Powered by liveSite