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                Terri O's Dangerous Curves Blog

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Welcome to the Terri O' Dangerous Curves Blog ... where Terri O' & special guest bloggers will tackle the latest issues in Motorsports, fashion, pop culture & every thing else in between! This is not a place for being politically correct, but rather a place where strong opinions & facts count! So buckle up, because there will be taking all the Dangerous Curves in our society today!


 

"The only true athletes are Bull Fighters, Mountain Climbers and Race Drivers!"

--Ernest Hemingway


 2/7/17

Perspective!

 

 

Perspective!

 

I've known Terri for many years, I've seen her win races against the very best, I've seen her work day and night for days building her cars from scratch and preparing for battle and then take those cars 2000 miles from her small town home and win competing against the nations very best. I've seen her expand her abilities and horizons over the years and become a good writer, damn fine artist and I've witnessed the risk she's taken not only on the track, but in her personal life just so she could have a life, by the way, one she fervently deserved.

 

So when I see and hear people put her down or troll her on social media, it really makes me mad - angry, it’s ridiculous. These people don't know her, or respect her contribution to this world, or the damn astonishing accomplishments she amassed in the middle of the worst possible circumstances. What she has and continues to accomplish is extraordinary for anyone under normal circumstances, but what she accomplished, how she did it, all under the extreme duress in her life is damn amazing and deserves respect, not jealous petty envious people constantly putting her down, and that goes from every redneck good ole boy to the LGBTI folks ragging on her.

 

A person with less grit, courage, and common sense would have buckled under the pressure thirty years ago, but she stands tall and goes on pushing the limits in spite of the horrible people constantly giving her hell!

 

People need to stop this insanity and obsession … they need to mind their own business and get a damn life!

 

So what that she only ran a short amount of laps in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, now Monster Cup Goodwrench 500 ... she was good enough to get her GOLD NASCAR license which NASCAR only lets the very best attain.  She was good enough to run second fastest lap of the day in practice, against the who’s who in NASCAR, which by the way was the very first time she had ever sat in a NASCAR Cup car, or had ever seen the Rockingham Speedway. The list of the world’s best race drivers that only ran one Cup race, or tried to run one cup race and failed is littered with the who’s who of motorsports, in fact Jeff Gordon failed on his first attempt as did Bobby Labonte and their cars were top tier, un like Terri’s ... so get some perspective folks, give her credit for being a bad ass racer, her record proves it over and over and over.

 

 How many of you have actually seen her drive 410 cubic inch 900 horse powered Sprint Car, set track records, win by starting dead last and drive through the field to win, well I have! How many of you know how damn hard that is, how much work goes into that, how crazy dangerous it is. Sprint Cars especially 410 Sprint Cars are the ultimate test for skill, bravery and commitment, just ask Tony Stewart who said it’s the hardest thing he has ever had to learn to do, and Terri O’ excelled and then some in that sport!

90 days before her NASCAR test in Rockingham she was having a nervous breakdown, lying flat on her back 2000 miles from home, virtually homeless and friendless, yet she survived that day, got up, got back home and with true grit, buzzed around Rockingham Speedway like a pro, that’s damn crazy, that’s reaching deep. 

 

Plus, every little hound dog race driver she ever raced against was constantly trying to get at her, bad mouthing her, gossiping and trying to black ball her ... how she maintained her poise in the midst of that is beyond me!

When a motorsports promoter, puts his reputation on the line, on national Television to say that Terri was, is one of the top 5 best he has ever seen race, and he had seen all the best, especially when he was not pleased with her at the time, says something about her ability. It’s pretty darn clear how people in the sport hold her abilities.

 

Or that a journalist and promoter from the west coast wrote that she was always one of the ones, always one of the ones to beat no matter where or what she raced … well that has merit, merit that some really nasty uninformed jealous – vindictive people who keep trying to diminish her life and record need to acknowledge, now, especially in and around her home town!

 

Is she perfect, no, but she’s pretty damn close to it, she’s a bad ass racer, a talented engineer and builder, her record proves it. It’s right there in black and white and in the record books, magazines and newspapers from New York to California.

 

In addition, She’s an amazing story teller and writer and an insanely talented artist who has been fact checked fifty ways upside down and side way’s by the likes of the New York Times, People and 20/20 just to mention a small few … and for that I respect and support her, and everyone else should too, period! It took big time guts to write her memoir, to stand up to the bullies, some of which were and are big time political and sports executives. It’s a great book, and one she wrote herself with great edits by Patricia Warren and Dave Arbogast.

 

It also took big time guts to restart her racing career, that took unearthly courage … times 1000. I happen to know what she went through getting back in the seat, I don’t know of anyone who would have put themselves through that, no one, that was an epic effort!

 

In her home town, since 1981, it’s been a relentless assault on her character, and if it had been me, I would have  sued people's fanny's off ten times over and sent some bad people to find these gossiping a-holes!

 

When naysayers, sitting behind their computers who are all talk, with no substance are criticizing her, she’s out there making history, winning races, building race car, writing books, screenplays, really cool marketing proposals and creating beautiful cutting edge art! She’s not on social media acting like a fool! She has class, she’s a historic figure on the world stage, she holds iconic status to thousands of people around the world.

 

And by the way, when did it become so wrong to stand up and defend yourself from the bullies … so it’s ok for someone to bully her, but not for her to stand up to them, to call them out, and then they get all agitated at her for calling them out, really? It’s been said she needs to make amends to her home town for what she wrote in her memoir, actually there are people there who owe her an apology; she has nothing to amend for … nothing. And what she wrote, was about some very specific people, not the entire community, It’s written for plain sight in the book. Her personal friends, who are many, know this.

 

Very early on, she drove past that city limit sign in small town Mississippi and made her mark on the world under the most difficult circumstances, circumstances by the way that 99.9% of everyone else running around on this earth would find just too damn difficult to endure and they would give up.

 

She could be living a life of luxury, married to a rich U.S. Congressman who has chased her around for years, but that would mean giving up on her racing, changing her name again, going underground and packing her talents and accomplishments in a box pushed up under a bed to never be seen or acknowledged again.

 

Not Terri, not her, not ever, she’s too committed to her gifts, her talents and her goals, she doesn’t quit, or submit to bullies or naysayers.

It’s time for some respect and appreciation for who she is, what she has accomplished, all her talents and what she survived to still be here on this planet and going for it!

No false equivalency!

 

Gil Toff, Documentarian, Mental Health Lecturer, Former Member of the US Soccer Team

 

3/10/16

October in Mississippi, Fight'n and Camo Hats with Ear Flaps ... and Robby the Racer!

NOT THE COUNTRY CLUB ... OR MERLO’ IN THE VIP SUITES!

 

It was late October, (LATE 80'S) and I had been on the West Coast racing Sprint Cars for the season and by late October, I had made the trip back to Mississippi for the winter to regroup, and get ready for the next season of racing. My good friend and by now, business partner Don O'Brian, (He and his wife Nancy had let me use their apartment in San Francisco to live in while out in California racing) had flown in to hang with me and my parents for a week or so, just to take a vacation and see the Southern culture (other than me) ...

My dad was still running 600cc Midgets, and he and a few of the gang from home were heading down to Louisville, Mississippi to race on a cold and brisk Saturday night, so Don and I jumped in the van and took off with Hayes clan down to the badlands of Mississippi, to take on some sure fire bonafide good ole boys. It's like, if you don't have a gun and tire tool when you pull in the gate, they will give you one, because you’re probably gonna need them before a night of hard core Southern fried racing is over ... LOL, but true!

So, anyways ... once at the track, we all unloaded  and warmed up the race cars, plugged my dad down in that badass little race car and sent him out on the track for his practice session, and as usual, he was fast ... real fast!

About an hour later … when it came time for dad to run his qualifying heat race, he started in the third row, and by lap three he was up to second place and having a hell of a battle with the leader, a certified Southern Boy, a local boy who was wearing his Southern colors and pride on his car and racing uniform ... then on lap six, dad took a big chance, and passed him, bumping him just a smidge ... and that, pissed Robby the Racer off and on the next lap, he went back after my dad (first off he didn't like getting passed by a seasoned gentleman, especially someone from the North, albeit from North Mississippi … it’s still a hundred miles North of his Mississippi roots) ... and passed him back by bumping him out of the way, and then ... well, dad got red in his eyes and went right back after Robby the Racer. And on the last lap of the heat race, dad dived bombed him and ... well, all hell broke loose; he not only spun the guy out, he sort of ... well - tipped him over ... “oh shit”. Not hard or bad mind you, but enough to get the guy up on his side. Remember that issuing of guns and tire tools … well, it looked like it was time to break’em out!

Of course, all hell broke loose ... his crew guys got all pissy and moan'y ... words were spoken, the officials had to step in and officiate, they called us a bunch of arrogant Yankees, we called them a bunch of inbreed morons … you get the picture … all of our guys had to intervene, including brother Don from San Francisco, who by now had his certified Wal-Mart Camo Hunt'n hat with ear flaps on keeping his bald head warm!

Soon ... everyone calmed down and cooler heads prevailed ( yeah right, the officials and the sheriff deportee’ told everyone they were going to jail if they didn’t knock it off … otherwise) ... so, we cooled our jets and began getting dads car ready for the main event, he would start second row outside out of thirty good ole boys, a damn good starting spot. He could win that damn thing if all went well land we all knew it ... but we also knew dad was gonna have to keep a keen eye on ole Robby the Racer ... it could get ugly if they tangled again, and knowing dad – the chances of that happening was better than even, if your wanted to bet that is! So we told dad, take it easy ... don't provoke this guy, we are in his house, and his house is in the middle of the woods, and that damn deportee’ already had his eye on us ... so be sure, don’t do nut’n stupid!

Then, dad started working on me, like he always did ... trying to talk me in to driving his midget for the main event! Dad was saying, "Hey, why don't you drive it, you will do better than me ... I'm already tired - you will win, I'll probably wreck it … I'm still mad at that A-Hole" ... on and on and on. He was really politicking me and by now, so was Don, and Jerry, and John, and Ricky, and Dewayne, and Roger and Jimmy ... you get it, they all ganged up on me ... so little ole pitiful me, playing chard to get, finally relented and said yes ... well duh!

So I put on dads driving uniform, which was two sizes too big, and his helmet and strapped in that puppy ... got out there in the lineup and when they waved the green flag, hell … I gassed her and took off, and by lap three, I was leading the damn race and driving away. However wouldn't you know it, by lap twenty, fate stepped in, I came up to lap ole Robby the Racer and I was thinking, shit, now what, he is probably gonna try to wreck my skinny white ass when I try to pass him. I knew I had to be careful and smart, and get on by him in a hurry ... and luckily, I quickly got by him before he really noticed I was passing him and I thought … OK, that’s cool, I snookered him and now I’m just gonna drive off into the sunset and win this baby!

But, that's when it got interesting ... and messy, shit never works out the way you planned!

About the time I lapped him ... not five seconds later, the caution flag came out because another car had spun out. So we all slowed down, and of course the field is frozen, and the officials began getting the cars that had spun out back on track. So I was just cruising around at about thirty miles per hour with all the other cars in tow, minding my own business, letting the officials fix the situation and all of a sudden, Robby the Racer who was right behind me a lap down had decided in his most infinite wisdom to inflict revenge upon the little orange car right in front of him and the asshole from the North driving it, who he clearly thought was my dad, not me ... he began to ram the rear of my race car "BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM ... and he would back up and get a running go and just crash into me!

What thaaaaa….

And I was getting more pissed off by the second, because I realized what brother Robby  was doing, and why ... plus, it seemed as if the officials were either “NOT” paying attention to what Robby the Racer was doing or ... they didn't care, (remember we are in his house)  and every time I came by the pit gate, my guys were all leaning out on the track shaking their fist, giving the one finger salute and yelling some nasty stuff at ole’ Robby ... so the “situation” was beginning to escalate ... and fast!

That's when ... I had, enough of his shit (now I don't ever really loose my cool, in life or in racing, I just maintain a level temperament, especially at the race track) ...  and I was just done with Robby the Racer and I was thinking the situation through on what the hell I was going to do about it ... then it came to me, as clear as the light of day, hell be damned those Southern stars and stripes, the Irish was among us, Robby the racer had to pay … so the next time I came down the front straight, with him still beating the hell out of my rear bumper, I slowly veered off and up next to the pit gate ... then, I slammed on the breaks and stopped us both, and the entire field of cars in tow, and we all came to a dead stop right in front of the pit gate ... “right in front of my guys”!

Then, I calmly unbuckled my seat belts, calmly got out of the race car, and calmly walked back to Robby the Racer (who was still sitting in his car buckled up and I’m sure, pondering his next move and by now realizing, there was this small skinny person in the car, instead of my dad) ... AND THEN, ALL 120 POUNDS OF FIGHTING MUSCLE AND IRISH TEMPER ... WITH THE ELIMENT OF SURPRISE, I LEANED IN HIS CAR AND BEGAN BEATING THE HOLY SHIT OUT OF HIM ... I WAS WHALING ON HIS ASS AS HARD AS I COULD ...POUNDING HIS HELMET WITH MY FIST, AND HE COULD NOT DO ANY THING ABOUT IT ... I caught him off guard, thankfully, because the guy was twice as big as I was ... there is something to be said about being brave, fast, a little crazy and first ... with being first as the most important attribute!

Then ... all of a sudden, someone grabbed me by the back of my driving uniform and jerked me out of the way, and I fell right over my dad, whereas, he and I both went tumbling to the ground … and as I scrambled to looked up and see what the hell was going on, there was all our guys around ole Robby the Racers car and they were pounding the hell out of him ... and then I realized, what the hell ... oh my God, there was San Francisco Don, with his Wal-Mart Camo hunting hat with ear flaps right in the middle of the action ... helping all of our guys pound Robby the Racer into oblivion ... and it was a beautiful sight to behold!

Well, anyways, I've told that story over the years to just about anyone who would listen ... at the time it happened and after I had cooled down a bit, I was a little embarrassed over it all but then, I realized ... well, crap ... Robby the freak’n Racer deserved everything he got and more! In the end, you have to defend yourself some times ... my, our street credit, our honor was at stake, so it was time to take action … to make social order out of the situation.

And if you’re wondering ... yes - the officials did get involved as did the local deportee’... we barely got out of there with our lives ... but we never, ever had any more trouble out ole Robby the Racer and as for San Francisco Don ... he carried that kick ass story back to California like a badge of honor and, as he boarded the plane to head back to California ... he was wearing his Wal-Mart Camo hunting cap with ear flaps, and I was laughing my ass off!

Nothing like a little fried chicken, homemade mamma biscuits, cold Budweiser, guns and tire tools, and a little fight down South in Mississippi to spice up one's vacation ... yes Ole' Don got the true Southern experience, but probably more than he was looking for though. And that my friend is the Robbie the Racer, Louisville, Mississippi, Wal-Mart Camo hat with ear flaps, fight story!

Terri O’Connell

Irish & Bonafide 


1/17/16 - By Ron Lingron

Ron Lingron / Journalist / Announcer

7 hrs · 

 

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Day 6/10 - a snapshot out of a Petaluma Speedway video showing all at once, history, change and fashion. This is July 26, 1987, and would be my 17th birthday and again I was in the stands for this show.  

 This photo comes post Trophy Dash and the winner here was one of the invaders from out of state that didn't necessarily follow a point chase anywhere and were pretty much the lone remaining true outlaws of the sport who flew into California and spiced things up for a few months before heading back home. First, I must point out the fashion statement being made by one Bobby Gerould, now a friend of mine, but back then was just another guy doing what I longed to do, talk about sprint cars on a microphone. The unzipped white jacket, pegged pants most likely using safety pins, white high tops and a flashy mullet made quite the splash on the infield, contrasting nicely with the black adobe. The sprint car eating berm has teeth showing, daring anyone to come close to it. The track early on is typical greasy which would tighten up as the night wore on. The Al Leist #88 this night was piloted by former national go kart champion before outlaw karts were all the rage, and a guy who would turn racing on its ear and lead to more question marks behind the scenes whispers than most anyone in sprint car history. Also later on after this picture, this driver would race at Rockingham with the Winston Cup Series, his only cup of coffee with NASCAR's highest level. Twenty Three year old JT Hayes came out here out of Memphis, TN and immediately laid down a new track record qualifying attempt in the Lovell Bros. ‪#‎71n‬ at Silver Dollar and going on to win both for Lovel and for Challenger on other occasions, and put people on notice there was a new shoe in town. He ended up driving for owners Lovell, Lathrop, Bellotti, Consani, Chinen, Snow and Liest and won for all of them as far as I can remember. Plus, looking back on his qualifying records, he had multiple quick times at virtually every track in Central California including Santa Maria. Here, Hayes has won the Trophy Dash and would run second later to someone named Sills, a member of the Sprint Car Hall of Fame. Even Jeff Gordon was flown in to run this race, so History was in the making through out the field. Hayes wasn't finished making headlines, however and, stood the racing world on its ear decades before Bruce Jenner half assed it, by undergoing gender re-assignment/Disorders of Sexual Development - intersex - corrective surgery (TERRI IS  NOT TRANSGENDER - Jenner is) and becoming Terri O'Connell, disappearing from the sprint car landscape and going down in California history as one of the ones, one of the true bad asses, while she was out here and one with a much bigger story to tell post-California. Terri continues to live on the East Coast and races back there from time to time. I'm sure I saw HER at Knoxville in a 305 and 410 at the 2012 Nationals. Her story is told in her book, Dangerous Curves. It's been nearly 30 years since JT Hayes splashed across the California landscape, but damn, what a splash it was.


Terri O DCS Blog  11/7/15

 

The Coolest and Craziest Thing I Ever Did in Motorsports ... Yes, Yes It is!

 

I wanted to post this little piece ... because, ironically I was chatting a month back with my friend Russ Thompson, an old and faithful Karting friend from back in the day who is now the Stats guy for NBCsn Indycar Series / NASCAR as well as lending his historical talents to ESPN, and we were talking about the good ole days and I told him about a reporter asking me what was the craziest thing I had ever done in motorsports and i told him about this badass Kart race down in Mississippi back in the day and I had driven the damn thing one handed ... and Russ remembered this race because as he said, that was real damn crazy ... "I dont know of anyone else who would have done that", and he scrounged around and found an old fuzzy pic he had taken of me doing this crazy thing I did ... I'm going to put this in the re release of my memoir set for release in January around the Sundance Film Festival ... because it is pretty damn cool!

 

I was chatting with a motorsports reporter a while back and the subject came up over what was the craziest thing I had ever done in racing ... what was I most proud of out of everything I had ever done or accomplished in racing?

 


That could have been a hard question to answer, I had been fortunate to accomplish amazing things in my racing career, some really amazing things actually! And I had done most of it with basically, with one hand tied behind my back considering, everything I had had to overcome through the years. It had not been easy by any stretch of the imagination, none of it! Hard work and sacrifices had been made ... lots of them!


But I didn't hesitate to answer his question, the moment that rushed to the top, that indelible moment burned into my mind, my heart ... my soul, was not National Championships, big pay Days ... winning races against the best in the nation, winning against Hall of Famers, winning from the rear of the starting field with dramatic and dangerous passes through the field of cars only to pass for the win on the last lap ... in midgets and especially Sprint Cars! It wasn’t even making the starting field in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Goodwrench 500 and starting right alongside the King of Stock Car racing Richard Petty.


No it was none of those compelling and intense and against all odds efforts that stood out at the top of the list ... so what was it?


Well, It was a 100 mile professional Kart race in Columbus, Mississippi in 1981 that stood out over everything else ... by a damn mile. 


By then, I was full into my Midget racing career, and had not been racing Karts at all for a while ... but that darn 100 mile Kart race in Columbus every Labor Day was always the one race we, as Karters like to run ... it was fun as hell. You were hauling ass on the one mile road course set up on the Air Force Base down there ... and Karters from California to NY came into run that damn thing every year, and the on track format was, they ran three classes of Karts all in one race. 100 CC, 125cc and 250 cc dual engine (all two stroke engines)... and every one competed in the same event for the overall win, but also compete with in your particular class structure for class wins. And on this course, the longest straight was around a quarter of a mile long, so the top speed for my Kart was around 100 miles per hour, so you were hauling ass less than an inch off the ground, you did not want to crash and skid down the track on your ass, it would hurt. 


The race was modeled after the iconic 24 Hrs of Daytona or the 24 Hrs of Le Mans for Sports Cars or the 12 Hours of Sebring! On that day I was running my 125 cc Kart, one I had left over from my Karting days still sitting in the back of my shop since I had stopped running them a year or so back. Well I dusted her off, worked on getting her ready to race and high tailed it down to Columbus and as usual, I was fast ... not as fast as the duel engine Karts, but pretty damn close. So when the race started, I hauled ass. I had to get a jump on every one, get out of the huge pack of Karters just looking for a big crash, all while not burning my engine up. It had to last for a 100 miles, not three 10 lap heat races that we normally ran, so I just could not burn the damn thing up early in the race, I had to be smart. To finish first, first you must finish … but I needed to get a jump on the rest of the field of Karters. 


As I got going, all seemed to be going just fine … by lap two, I was running second behind one of the duel engine Karts and both of us had a good half a straight lead over the rest of the other sixty crazy ass Karters ... yes sixty Karts on the track at the same time, it’s crazy ass stuff!
Then, as I headed off down the long quarter mile straight on the fourth lap, about half way down ... my engine suddenly (125cc two cycle engine) lost power and just started to idle ... I immediately looked over at the engine which was mounted right next to my right thigh ... looking to see what was wrong with the engine and, it was still running but had no power ... and as I tried to work the gas pedal, nothing happened ... it just idled? I’m thinking … what the hell?


Then, I realized the throttle linkage down next to the gas pedal had broken, it had come loose so the gas peddle no longer worked ... "Damn ... what the hell"! All while those sixty other crazy ass Karters hell bent on winning the race on that lap … were whizzing by me on the right and the left going sixty miles per hour faster than I was. It was very clear, If I either didn’t get off the track and out of harm’s way, or get going on down the track at a race speed, someone was going to run flat over me. It would not be a pretty site!


Now, on those race Karts, the engine is mounted right down low next to the seat either on the right or the left, and the engines carburetor is right where you can touch it ... in fact one the arts of Karting is being able to adjust the carburetor in order to make it more rich or more lean to improve the engines performance. You can reach right down and tune the carb with out even looking, its something you learn to do very early on as a Kart racer ... and the throttle linkage that connects to the carb is right there close as well. So you can reach down and work the carb throttle with your hand if you need to, but racing it like that ... is impossible. Race Karts are hard to steer, they steer very quickly and heavy, and driving them one handed at speed, in competition through right and left hand turns is just not possible and still be competitive ... oh you can just cruse around doing it but racing like that just ant gonna happen! You always adjusted the carb while on the straight, not in the corners.


So I had to make a decision, quickly ... stop in my pits, fix it (which would take at least ten minutes - five or ten laps and I would surely loose) or try and operate the gas with my right thumb, drive with my left hand and just hope to get some sort of finish … or just go back to the pits and call it a day and go home!


So in a moment of defiance, and insanity … I made the decision to try and race the darn Kart giving the throttle with my right thumb. So I laid my arm across the top of the engine, put my hand and thumb on the carb, wedged my left elbow in to my lap, took a kamikaze grip with my left hand on the steering and took off with a wing and prayer, hell bent on getting that baby to the finish. At first it threw off my rhythm, however after a few laps, I had it figured out, I got my right arm more positioned, and my left arm more wedged into my left side allowing my hand more accurate control of the steering wheel, it wasn’t perfect, but at least I was looking pretty competitive, I had some confidence about the situation I found myself in. Now, I was not nearly as fast as I would have been with me operating the Kart with both hands and giving the gas with my right foot, not by a long shot ... but by golly, I was holding my own. And guess what ... by days end, two hours later ... I had not only finished the damn 100 miles, I had won my 125 cc class over twenty five other high strung national Karter's but I had also finished third overall in the race over the other fifty seven Karters ... what the hell?

 

 

Me, driving one handed, and giving the gas with my other hand ... for a 100 mile, going 100 Miles per Hour!

However, my right thumb, by operating the carb throttle was totally destroyed, it was black and blue, had a huge gash in it and my right arm, was scorched by the engines and expansion chamber - exhaust heat ... and I was totally exhausted, mush ... done! But I was damn proud of myself, it was a personal achievement … and when everyone there, including my dad realized how I had run the race operating the carb with my hand and driving with one hand, they just could not believe it and the entire group of Karters gave me a big applause during the awards ceremony ... that made my day, made me smile ... it was priceless, better than an Oscar, better than winning the nationals … well maybe not, but it was a big accomplishment none the less!


Moral to this story ... I’m not a quitter … “I don’t quit”. And on that day in Columbus, Mississippi … in a very minor event, I made my mind up I wasn’t quitting. I came down there to race, to compete … to win. That’s my life … “I don’t quit” … and that attitude has sustained me throughout all of my trials and tribulations. It’s in me, deep in my soul … and "I only wish I could pass that along to all of you". The harder it gets, the more determined and hard headed I get … even to a fault sometimes … but in the end, my life, my accomplishments are all sustained by the attitude of …“I don’t quit”


And that my friend is my craziest and most proud moment in racing! Honor badge!
Below is an old fuzzy pic of me in that race … you can see my arm over on the right, laying on top of the engine operating the throttle on the carb with my hand - thumb… it's an amazing and rather iconic pic taken by my friend Russ Thompson – who now works for NBCsn!

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Terri O DCS Blog  4/23/15

 

Been Thinking ... What the Hell is Going On Here?

I've been thinking about this for a while ... but been reluctant to actually post it. I'm in the midst of re building my racing career, have lots of great projects in the works, that involves people who don't need or want controversy, or at lest the least that we can have surrounding my efforts. However, there is something I believe people need to be reminded about ... and it something I wrote about in my memoir, and it is something to a large degree is still going on, and it hurts me, bothers me and dumbfounds me. First off my issue is not TG, but rather its Disorders of Sexual Development, which means I got both male and female biology, but dominant female, and my DNA is female, even though I wrote a book about my life, did lots of media interviews, I have never been comfortable talking about all of this ... still not, but I digress, some people just cant seem to get the damn memo, so I keep trying.

Now, to the point I want to make ... when my story broke in the press, up in Charlotte and then nationally and internationally, the reaction to my story was not met with a rounding applause and support, quite the opposite actually, radio dj's ripped me up daily, the motorsports community totally turned their back on me, hung me out to dry and then black listed me ... and Charlotte, ran me out of town on a rail ... I was off limits, people couldn't stand to even stand with ten feet of me ... Hollywood never caught my back, and the media just kept on exploiting my story, never even calling me to get interviews or to get my side or to even get the facts ... and I had no one really catching my back ... no PR firm, not even the LGBT or diversity power players, or organizations which is quite astonishing really. 
Yes, there were a few supporters, but very few ... and it took a huge toll on me personally and financially, I was even homeless twice during this period and yes suicide was a constant companion, as it had been most of my life.
Ironically, only one day before my story broke in the press, I was considered to be top flight, cute, articulate, actually beautiful ... talented, and a creative genus as the motorsports power players would say and a courageous female business entrepreneur, a rarity in motorsports ... but the day after my story broke in the press, all of that was thrown out the window. I was left to survive the best way I could ... and it took me a while to figure it out ... but today, the motorsports community still has a bur in their ass about me ... especially the big shots, even as they make statements saying they want to be more inclusive, to expand their open door policy ... I'm still fighting a few of them for my place in the sport ... inclusion  with an exception, me!
I don't have a dog in the Caitlin J hunt, except to say, ant it kinda off how so many step up and shower her with love and admiration ... and actually people should be nice to her, not judge her, give her the benefit of the doubt ... something I'm constantly ranting about . But it is a little odd, that someone who actually has a verified medical and biological anomaly, who got it corrected, and fought like hell to get back on track gets the crap knocked out them daily, road blocked, black listed ... dismissed while these other folk get showered with admiration and flowers. I find it rather off beat, just to be frank ... but I digress! 
Lately, some new friends have made the statement that I look like Stevie Nicks, (Fleetwood Mac) or other Hollywood celebs ... and actually I hear that a lot, its nice, makes me feel good ... but I never let that go to my head, but the point to that is, no one in one million years would know my past if no one told them, and even when my story is reveled, most everyone questions it ... they don't believe it ... and that's nice ... but then, little by little, the air gets sucked out of the room ... and we get back down to, oh we cant be seen with her, can't stand by her ... and it really pisses me off ... so I just really never ever tell anyone in a social setting my past any longer ... I never give them my real name, cause at some point they are going to google me, and then here we go ... having to explain.
So when I see all these recent TG stories in the media, and just how crazy some of them are, or stereotypical they are and the media and clebs rushing to throw flowers at their feet, I have to roll my eyes. When a 6'1"drag queen who now says she is TG and is on a TV show (who I actually like), playing a TG on TV (yeah that's out side the box and different)  and she is the new media darling and spokes person for the TG community, orange is the new we have lost our freak'n focus ... or the TG chopper pilot who looks like a line backer in drag is flying her chopper in a short skirt, low cut top and high heels just to make a point that she is now a chick ... and they think that's cool and cute you have to ask yourself, what the hell is going on here. Makes me crazy. It hurts the cause.
Hey, everyone gets to do their own thing, have at it, got your back ... but to loose focus on the big picture, to make a minor a major ... and a major a minor,  is just disheartening, to say the least.
But, it is what it is ... and yes the media has tried to provoke me into doing that crap, But I ant doing it ... and I'm not associating myself with the ones who do, and that gets me black listed by them, when they should be supporting me  for busting my butt  and trying to present class, dignity, perseverance and talent, not acting salacious and flashy on TV or in the media ... they should not continue to be pissy with me ... always trying kill my efforts. But I can now see, that's never going to happen ... my normality, talent and hard eaened accomplishments are too much of a threat to the off the top reality TV mentality out there today!
I'm so fortunate to have all my friends, I so appreciate each and everyone of you ... so I keep digg'n!
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TerriO DCS Blog 3/23/15


The Racing Life … Shark Tank, or Heaven on Earth, Athletes?

 

The Racing Life … Shark Tank, or Heaven on Earth, Athletes?

 
Motorsports has always been the biggest part of my life … it’s in my DNA. There is nothing else in my life that gets me going like racing, I love every part of it … well, I could actually do without some of the a - holes and seedy politics in the sport, but I digress, racing is still way cool, at least to me, better than every thing else, even on a bad day. However, the sport is not easy on people and will weed out the week and uncommitted from drivers, engineers and owners to marketing professionals with out malice or compassion like no other sport or profession. There is no quarter or mercy shown for those who do not commit their soul to the sport. It’s 24/7 … 365 outside the box work and dedication trying to find victory lane, or any morsel of success in the middle of some elusive, dark, bruiting and dangerous worm hole in a separate galaxy far, far away. The racing force, the elusive worm hole is constantly trying to suck you in and we are willing participants … puppets actually, being played by our ambitions and our narcissism encompassed in our competitive spirits. Winning, driving 900+ horse powered throttle rockets with wheels is the be all end all …worm hole or not!  “This Is not T – Ball” where every one gets a trophy and Lollypop just for being in the game … this is not touchy feely stuff where moms and dads say oh honey, you did so good, you’re the best just for standing on the field of play. Racing is hard core, “IT IS DEFINITIVE”, not a subjective endeavor to be judged by a panel of celeb judges … and its athletic, its where every ounce of your body, mind and soul is involved with corralling that 150 miles per hour vehicle around a track with the G Forces trying to rip your head off and sling every functioning organ out of your body. Your threading a needle sitting in a million dollar machine traveling faster than a speeding bullet only half of an inch from a concrete wall, and with 40 other hell razing race car drivers chasing you down. Every ounce of your body is involved in pushing this racing machine to it limit. Your hands, feet, butt coordination  function as one motion … your entire body is in tune, working as one cohesive unit in making that race car perform at its maximum, to win. It’s like trying to place a tennis serve, or a golf shot right on the line for four hours at a time, and if you miss the serve, or the golf shot … you total your million dollar car or worse, you run the risk, actually a big risk of breaking your crazy ass neck … it’s where only the bad asses of all bad asses compete and survive, especially as you work like an African mad dog chasing its prey to climb up the professional ladder! Lets face it, we sit in that 100 miles per hour fast ball, that fire breathing hell-ious tennis serve, that hard driven T shot … in fact we sit in a vehicle going twice as fast and we have to turn that baby 1000 times in the midst of a 500 mile stock car or hard fought Sprint Car race. Racers are athletes, dare devils, engineers and scientist all in one package … just in case you wanted the facts Donovan!

 

Racing encompasses science, engineering, marketing, public relations, talent, money and insane dedication, (did I say money and lots of it … speed cost, how fast do you want to go) and it's the only sport where you can be winning by 100 points with one minute to go and loose in total humiliation and disgrace. It will test you; it will break your heart and do so in an instant, we live and die by the stop watch … we are winners or loser’s defined by one, one thousandth of a second. I’ve seen many gung-ho characters or kids with rich daddy’s who all thought they were bad asses stroll into the sport hell bent on conquering the world, putting all of us in our place, but leave with their tails tucked between their legs because the heat and action got way too hot … the work, and the dedication it took was way too much for them to bare, and they spent all their daddy’s money chasing that ever elusive holy grail. It’s dangerous, and will take all you have and all you’re ever going to have in the blink of an eye, and if you don’t know and accept that from day one, emotionally and financially you will be sharks bate.

 

I’ve seen good friends, accomplished and winning racers strap into to their cars, their true comfort zone, the cockpit of their race cars, focused on winning the race, but never return to their pits or to their homes, or their loved ones. Leaving their family and friends shocked and devastated … and then, as we always do, we all blocked it out some how, and the very next week strapped our selves back in our 900 horse powered race cars and fight like gladiators trying to take the next win, shutting out the tragedy we had all experienced the week before. Not that we are callus, uncaring people, because we are not. Actually for all the machismo we present, for all the back stabbing politics we inflict, we respect one another, we are an elite group, a brother and sisterhood looking after one another carrying the adage of he or she may be a SOB, but they are our SOB. Actually, down deep inside we are more aware and compassionate, more aware of the meaning of life because we all live right on the razors edge … we also know that we all choose to do this business, no one makes us do this. We all chose to be risk takers, and we all choose to embrace our fellow racing brothers and sisters passion for the sport.

 

Competitive, you bet it is both in and outside the racing arena and because of that, the sport is political, and will turn on you in an instant. It will leave  your feelings crushed and your career in a smoldering heap of done and over, all because some one of power doesn’t like you or a salacious rumor spread by a jealous competitor seeped into the atmosphere and killed all of your cache and dignity. With out sponsors or a rich sugar daddy’s you can only wish to compete, race cars eat money like horses eat hay, like the Kardashians suck all the air out of the room, no money … no racing. One year you have a sponsor and you're on top of the world, and then your sponsor leaves you out of no fault of your own and you’re left scurrying to pay the bills, to keep your career moving. Then all of a sudden you’re out of business, broke, in debt, and with out a job. You always have to be a politician, the consummate sales person always looking to swoon a sponsor into spending a hundred thousand or a million dollars on your brilliant career, and you’re always guaranteeing them it’s a no brainer winning deal for them, that you and you alone are the savior for their brand.

 

Racers are eternal optimist, even at the darkest dawn and ten ticks past midnight, when all seems lost, we continue to trick our brains and everyone around us into thinking all is good and perfect in the midst of the imperfect world we live in. That no matter what, no matter how many times we get beat, crash or loose a sponsor … the next win, the next sponsor is only seconds away. We can loose twenty races in a row and begin to doubt ourselves and then, we get it right and take it to victory lane, and all the losses before are a mere fading memory, dust in the wind baby. However, we don’t forget any thing, we always remember when some a – hole driver wrecks us, we may say, oh it’s just a racing deal and all is forgiven … really! Actually, from that moment we are planning our revenge that will be played out on the world stage with our rival wrecked up side down and on fire, and we can say … well he or she had it coming from what they did to me a year or so back at Darlington or Indy or Chico or fifteen years earlier while racing karts … we’re fickle like that and, it’s a beautiful thing. So when we return to victory lane or force our revenge, we are kings and queens of the world once again … invincible, arrogant and consumed with the spoils of victory, and ever hungry to repeat the narcissism over and over and over and over! So off we go, down the highway recharged, brainstorming and working like crazy people repeating the madness until our days on this earth has run its last lap. We never get enough, we are never satisfied, that’s what makes us winners, that’s what makes us racers, that’s what drives anyone who knows us nuts!

We like it hard, easy sucks and is for wimps and people who give up. Racers never ever give up … not real racers!

 

However, we crave the racing life, the shark’s tank if you will and its drama; we can't live without it. We crave all the action, the sharp edges and the endless travel at four in the morning, the truck stops, the airports and the hotels. When you’re not in the game, not on the circuit, not in a hurry … you’re miserable, cranky, constantly thinking and working on getting back on the circuit, back in the car, finding a new and better sponsor or car owner … back out on the road in the middle of the action. The road, ole I40 and a truck stop is an oasis in the midst of a four thousand mile black ribbon of hope lit up as if we have hit the Las Vegas strip, beckoning us, welcoming us in the middle of the night … it’s our Country Club. The race track, all sorts of racetracks … big, small, dirt and asphalt scattered from coast to coast and throughout Middle America in places you can’t even imagine existed, let alone pack in ten, twenty and thirty thousand people every weekend. Race tracks fill our vision and senses with the sounds of screaming racing engines at speed  careening around some fairgrounds race track all while excited fans ride a Ferris Wheel in the back ground with the smells of burnt exotic racing fuel filtering through the air mixing and flavoring with the smells of pop corn, hot dogs and spilled beer. This is our Aramis and Chanel No 5. These sights, sounds and smells become our caviar and aged cheese while sitting in the midst of the Canes Film Festival watching an artsy fartsy French film and sipping wine from a five hundred dollar bottle of Merlot from a Waterford crystal wine glass. (we like wine and cheese too … just making a point) We are racing snobs, the racing elitist who think we are better than everyone else, those chosen few who are in charge of the universe. We are addicted to the rush, the challenge and the only life we know. With out it, we all feel as if we are nothing, less fulfilled … less than, only half a person, we are bored. Twelve, sixteen and twenty four hour days, bruised ribs, broken bones and constant neck pain are the norm … not the exception.  In the end though, it’s what makes us who we are and it’s what sets us apart from everyone else on this earth. Yes, its crazy as hell, yes we racers are a little crazy, maybe we’re even crazy as hell but in our world, being a little crazy is a good thing, it has the racing life cache. It’s what separates us from the pack, makes us different ... special! We live the racing life, shark tank and all … but we do so with great pride and dedication. Racing is our little piece of heaven here on this big green ball speeding through the cosmos and we love being apart of the madness, being apart of its people because they are our people, warts and all. We all speak and feel the same language, the same emotions … we have our own lingo and our own secret hand shake. Racing gives us that swagger we are all known for.  Racers are bad asses with out speed limits or city limit signs! As racers, we live in a swirling shark’s tank called motorsports … in our minds, that swirling sharks tank is our little piece of heaven on earth. It’s the racing life!

 

-- Terri O’Connell

 

 


Terri O’ DCS Blog 3/14/15

"What Did It Take"


"Talent Counts ... so does hard work ... This ant T - Ball where every one gets a prize"


I was recently ask by a pop culture journalist "What did it take for you to win over five hundred races and those national championships in racing. How difficult was that for you to achieve." Looking at her, I knew she was clueless about our sport, its world wide popularity (only #2 to the NFL on Television and the #1 spectator sport) and the insane effort it takes to just compete in the sport, let alone win and especially make it to NASCAR Sprint Cup or any top division of the sport without a sugar daddy, or a multi million dollar sponsor and marketing team. And I knew because of the new media, she was clueless about the old school and grass roots efforts versus the new school efforts in the sport. She was part of that new Kardashian, Jersey Shore and Danica P  (who by the way has only one professional win ever in any pro series but her PR machine would have you think she always wins) culture and did not know about the knife fight atmosphere that lived and breathed behind the scenes of the sport. She only knew about the reality show glitz, glam and spin building and branding these new media athletes and celebs into the so called superstars that are void of any sort of perseverance and real sense of getting their hands dirty trying to make it in their chosen field. Plus, I had just been disrespected by a group of male sick and ball athletes at a pro athletes forum in Atlanta at the Final Four, who thought auto racing was below their athletic  superiority. And how could some chick ever be as talented, accomplished or as brave as they were. In  reality, I was the only one in the room of pro foot ball, basket ball, base ball and tennis dudes that had a National Championship or had gone 200 miles per hour in a car ... actually I sit in a machine going twice as fast as they could throw a base ball or hit a tennis ball and my bravery ... well they were not in the same universe for having to be brave in competition, or in life for that matter. My response to her was tempered, knowing I did not want to respond in an arrogant way, I wanted to be as nice and as informative as possible and not seem bitter and pissy that she was clueless and that some of the newer stars in the sport have not had to pay their dues on any level ... this was my response.

Side bar Note: This, after being on the road most of last season and this season as well (mostly all alone in my car up and down the interstates, there were no PR handlers or an entourage of handlers helping me) ... since February I've don over 20, 24 hour all nighter's with my racing and marketing efforts! I was in no mood for trivial talk!

Well, it was not easy by any stretch of the imagination, and since my resurgence this past season up in Iowa and the mid west, I was reminded just how damn hard and challenging it could be … I worked like crazy all summer in 100 degree heat, fighting off the macho puppies trying to compete in the sprint car wars, it took all I had mentally and physically to accept the challenge … there were times after three twenty four days in a row working on, traveling and racing that I ask myself, what in the hell am I doing here?

But in the end it was all worth the pain, I had success on the track, I met some amazing people who I will now have life long relationships with and I re stared my racing career … but in the midst of all of that my mind did find refection and I often thought of just this very question … just what did it take to not only win over500 races in my life time … and just how in the heck did I survive the journey?

What It took for me to succeed in the sport was something called commitment with a capitol "C", all in the midst of perseverance that at times left me wondering what in the hell was I doing putting myself through the rigors  and insanity that this sport offers up in groves, especially while wagging around this gender issue which people used against me in every way they could ... it pushed my resolve to the limit day after day. It took running tens of thousands of laps on every damn little dirt and asphalt track from North Carolina to California, in the midst of a thousand forty eight hour days backed up by just as many 24 hour days working on, repairing and building race cars in a little race shop located in the North East corner of Mississippi ... It took ten thousand gallons of coffee all drank at four in the morning trying to stay awake traveling down I40 and a hundred other obscure two lane roads heading to one of a thousand race tracks all over America.

It took fighting back extreme fatigue and battered bones as we worked on our race cars scattered over a thousand parking lots in the middle of a beating sun as we tried to make repairs for the next nights run five hundred miles down the road from a race the night before in Raceville USA throughout Middle America with only an hour of sleep in the past two days ... and your broken and bruised ribs duck taped as tight as you could humanely bare, sustained a week back in a violent end over end crash that virtually popped your eye balls out of your head. It took finding awareness and vision to know that to have an advantage on the race track I needed to design and build my own race cars that incorporated new innovative engineering concepts that would allow me to beat my competition. It took understanding that the mechanical aspects of motorsports was actually a high tech science project that involved geometry, physics and understanding aerodynamics and then applying those scientific practices when building my race cars and making those thousands of parts on the car work as one cohesive unit. It took a million dollars scraped up with blood sweat and tears any way you could, going without food, having your personal vehicle repoed, living in your race hauler because you lost the lease on your house or apartment in order to have a decent budget so you could drive those thousands of miles year after year to race your car just trying to make a name for yourself in hopes some big time sponsor or car owner would take notice and move your career forward without all the hardships and drama. 

It took learning and educating myself about marketing and public relations so I could communicate with CEO's at Fortune 500 companies from coast to coast as I pursued and developed marketing partners and sponsors for our race teams. It took ten thousand phone calls chasing down sponsorship deals and thousands of marketing proposals Fed Ex-ed all over the states with hopes and prayers and some voodoo too said as you dropped the precious package into the mail box in hopes one of those proposals would be the one that a sponsor would say yes to ... and you would not have to shut the doors on your team. It took fighting off good ole boys, bubbas and mean ass people hell bent in not only beating your ass on the race track any damn way they could but even more mean spirited and viciously by blacklisting your career away from the track and trashing your personal life to the point of total humiliation. It took over coming fifty broken bones which included a crushed ankle, two broken feet, two broken arms, a broken hand, ten broken ribs, a broken hip and shoulder and two broken necks ... and too many cuts and bruises to count, and racing with most of those injuries because you had to in order to pay your bills and maintain your career. Playing hurt was always a way of life and a courageous badge of honor that proved you had what it took to be one of the most bad ass athletes on earth to not only yourself, but to your competitors. 

It took looking yourself in the mirror at times, fighting off depression and a broken heart because of my crazy life that was eating me alive with every beat of my heart alongside the missed opportunities in racing that always left you wondering who had back stabbed you this time (If not for a broken crankshaft, a broken piston and a broken gear box, I would have won three more national championships) and telling yourself that it's all worth the insanity your putting yourself through mentally and physically to do this thing called driving race cars for a living. In the midst of those injuries, the lack of sleep, the lack of financing and the lack of respect even though you were proving every time you drove a race car that your  one of the best if not the best in the race, in the sport, IT WAS ALWAYS WORTH the heartache and pain, ALWAYS. It took reaching down deep within my soul for twenty years to muster the courage to just buy my pit pass and enter the garage area at Chico, California or Charlotte, North Carolina after an ass *#@*&! had read my diary and began to spread rumors about my sexuality throughout the entire motorsports community ... more than that, 

It took courage to buckle up in the midst of that humility and compete against the most bad ass human beings - race drives in the world and not let them intimidate me, there was no way I was going to let that happen. It took insane courage to get in single engine private planes at five in the morning and fly out of a little fogged in corn field airstrip heading to a race somewhere in Kansas and then doing it again the next week somewhere in Indiana, only this time in the middle of a thunder storm simply because you had to be at the race track in time to qualify the race car. Believe me if we could have driven to those races and gotten there in time for the event, I would have done so with bells on. Those little endeavors in travel took ten years off my life.  It took humbling myself too many times to count by kissing some arrogant car owner's butt trying to convince him I was the person he should hire to drive his race car, even though I knew he and his hard tail buddies had been bad mouthing and laughing at me behind my back because of my gender issues, no matter that it was caused by biology, by God, or that I had just won a national championship. For me to find success in motorsports, It took all of this and never ever listening to those who tried to put me down, who tried to put me in my place because I always knew, even thought I was going against the odds in every possible way, that to have a chance I had to take a chance and drive right past the city limit sign if I had any chance at all of being a national champion.

 It took continually telling myself that my place in life was in the seat of a fast race car heading to victory lane and some ass from my home town who was telling me I had no chance of making it in the big leagues was actually the one that had no chance because of their limited view of the world and the un willingness to accept the facts that I already was a national champion and had made it to NASCAR Sprint Cup to compete against Earnhardt and the legends of the sport, and it was listed in the record books for anyone to see. All anyone had to do was actually read it ... but that took effort none of these limited people were willing to commit to. It took reminding some who didn't really understand our sport, what it really took to make it in this most dynamic and insane sport on earth that this ant tennis sister and an air-conditioned country club ... this is a sport that will take your life in a second, a sport where the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat or worse lived only split seconds apart and a sport where it takes hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars just to have a chance to compete, not a tennis racquet and a pair of sneakers. It took accepting that any one of a thousand different things would cause you to loose a race or crash out in a heap of bent metal and smoke because of some sort of mechanical failure, a blown tire or some idiot race car driver simply wrecks you only yards from the finish line, that not only caused you to loose the race that you were leading with seconds to go, but totally destroy your five hundred thousand dollar race car. Like I said, this is not Tennis, Golf or a fashion show with some smoked salmon and a cool glass of Merlot in the club house re hashing the tournament or the hot fashions. (Don't get me wrong, I love Tennis, Golf and fashion, they are all great and they all take great talent and commitment, but the differences in what it takes to compete in any of these three forms of human competition are dramatically different form the extremes in motorsports) 

As the journalist stood there looking at me with her mouth wide open ... I reminded her that my racing career was much the same as most the top racers throughout history except this new crop of superstars who brand themselves into the top drivers seats in motorsports ... that the new crop of superstars coming up through the ranks skipped 90%  of what I had just described, that 90% of them had not a clue on sacrifice, perseverance and what it took to beat the odds ... that talent was now secondary to branding, selling sex and money. That T&A trumped paying ones dues and accomplishment. At least there is a kid called Trevor Bayne and others named Ricky Stinhouse Jr and Kevin Swindell in the mix, especially Ricky Stinhouse and Kevin Swindell ... that they were from the old school way of making it to the top. I don't know what the reporter took away from my little rant, because she was part of that high pressure pop culture entertainment media that thinks a good Kardashians story is the bomb over a good against all odds perseverance story. Actually this reporter was more interested in what I was wearing, my hair and just how cute and hot Danica was instead of my talent and the crazy ass road I had traveled down to garner those wins and national championships. Makes you wonder doesn't it where we are going as a society ... I bet that stuff really gets under AJ Foyt, Parnellie Jones, Mario Andretti, Tony Stewart and the likes of Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell's skin, don't you! It gets under mine too!

 

 Terri O' DCS Blog 1 / 30 / 15

"Unfinished Business ... Fighting Through"
  
 
Over the past few months, as this project to get me back out on the track began to have momentum I caught myself becoming more and more reflective about not only my life and my career, but having to challenge myself more and more on why I chose to make this comeback. Especially and surely with eyes of the world focused on my little Terri O' adventure. Doing something first especially like this will generate some attention positive or not.
 
 I wondered if I had what it took to endure this, was I crazy for taking on this enormous endeavor. Oh, I wasn't worried about my driving task, I had and have all the confidence in the world in my ability to drive at the highest level of the sport, that was never a question, I knew I still had what it took to compete at the highest level in motorsports. My driving record and current testing stood for itself.  And I knew I had an awesome, if not the best team in Dick Barbour Racing behind me, Dick Barbour totally believes I can not only come back but win and is on the record making those statements ... but my doubts, my biggest challenge was and is dealing with the media and fan scrutiny that will surly consume this effort. There is a real possibility that my efforts will generate billions of dollars in media exposure all around the world and, I know there will be doubters, there always are. Along with overwhelming positive coverage and support from millions of fans especially women, there will be things said about me that will hurt my feelings that are totally untrue and demeaning and based on no factual information to my life and my past success in the sport. I know, because I've already dealt with that when my life story first broke in the international press several years back.
 
Much of the coverage was good, positive and inspirational but some was not and several media sources got my story completely wrong, especially by labeling me transgender, which is not my issue. My issue is Disorders of Sexual Development which means, I was born with both male and female biology which I had corrected back in 1994 and its really that simple. On the other hand, making my life more complicated, my DNA was XX, but getting some media sources to get that right or retract the transgender mislabeling about my life was daunting and quite honestly hurtful. But you learn to deal with it and make lemonade out of the lemons. It's Rev X’s job is to make sure that does not occur this time around by getting the facts out and catching my and our partners back. So, my biggest courage test will not come on the race track, it will come from dealing with my life in the media and away from the track. That's also where the most media coverage will come from, away from the track. 
 
Clearly, at times, it has not been easy because of my biological challenges and my being so open about them. There have been challenges to endure and overcome and I write about this in my memoir virtually in every chapter to some degree and it is something I wrestle with and have to find perspective in every day of my life. The easy play for me would be to just give up on the racing and the media exposure, to just blend back into society with total anonymity and have a nice life married to a nice man who would provide for and take care of me. That would take the pressure off, and allow me to not worry about being criticized and judged but, in the end, as appealing as that seems ... that's not me, not even close. That's not who I am and looking back at my life and career, I have always been defiant, even consumed to drive past the city limit sign, to get out of the box and get in life at the highest levels and to use my God given talents. I need the challenge, I need the goal and I've never been afraid of hard challenges even though at times they seemed so daunting I thought I could never over come the obstacles in front of me to win or achieve the quest. But, some how and with grit and determination and a whole lot of defiance, I never gave up. I just keep on working those 72 hour days, going with out food and regrouping over and over with better plan A's and ultimately, I was able to make it, to win, to achieve my quest. I might have been black, blue and bloody from the struggle, but I always found a way to get up off the floor and win both on the track and in life, More importantly and thankfully, in the midst of adversity, there was always some one out there, a fan, a friend or family member or a sponsor willing to lend a helping hand. Without the help and support of others I could not have made it. Even in my business quest, with my art and apparel company, my TV shows and my memoir, I often heard "You'll never be able to do that", but I just kept on working, believing in myself and, my memoir Dangerous Curves, (all 676 pages of it which I wrote myself) has been critically acclaimed by NYT's best selling authors' and fans alike. In addition, my art and apparel concepts are constantly praised each and every day by fans and industry insiders all across America. So if I had let others de rail my efforts and hard work by their unfounded criticism, I would have never fought through to make those projects work successfully. I always knew, if it was easy, every one would have been doing it, and I would not have been interested ... any thing easy "ant" something I'm interested in doing! 
 
However this time around, this quest has come to be more than just my quest, I feel as if it is the quest for any one who has been told no, you can't do that because your too small, too young, or too old. Or no, you can't do that because of your gender, your race or your social and economic situation ... or out of some misinformed persons personal prejudice which is what most who take on hard challenges hear no matter who they are. So, on the days that I'm feeling beat up or doubtful about this motorsports and literary quest, I just look up to the heavens and ask God to give me the courage to push forward, to keep on driving toward my goals because I know by me making it, it's going to give others who struggle, who do not have open opportunities simply by birth right and social acceptance the courage to keep their chins up and going forward after their own personal goal and quest. Just maybe, by me reaching deep and fighting through the overwhelming challenges that lay before me and ultimately making it, it will open up the doors to others who are willing to commit themselves and win too.  
 
At some point talent, perseverance, commitment and vision has to and will count even if you have to go for it with one hand tied behind your back and with one eye shut! For me, that's just leveling the playing field for every one else competing with us ... after all, we want to make it fair for everyone else don't we!
 
So you see, the word no or saying, "you can't" to me, only makes me more defiant and has always meant, "I'll see you in victory lane", just like I have over 500 times before!  That's what the vision of Rev X and Dangerous Curves is all about and I believe partners, fans and people in the know believe too. Can't is only a book mark, a word in the dictionary and an attitude for losers. We are not losers, we are winners and I have unfinished business in the sport of auto racing, I'm not leaving anything on the table. So I'm willing to commit and persevere, and willing to take the heat to live my dream of returning to big time motorsports in NASCAR, Indy Car and the American Le Mans Series! It's going to be one heck of a ride ... and the question is, are you fast enough and brave enough to take that ride into victory lane with the Go Terrio Go team!
 
Buckle up, lets go racing and make a little social and sports history! Terri O'

 

Terri O’ DCS Blog 11/29/14

 

A Little Perspective: Tennis, Golf, Dancing With The Stars ... Motorsports, which is tougher, harder to do?

 

Clearing it up once and for all!

As a fan of all the above mentioned sports, and entertainment mediums, I have no dog in this hunt except to shed a little light on the finer differences between Tennis, Golf and Dancing With The Stars in regards to Motorsports or Auto Racing to be specific. All are great sports, that take skill and commitment to compete at the highest level, to be a professional, there is no debate, you have to have talent in order to be a pro, to play in the big leagues ... DWTS is a Reality TV show, so we will just leave that where it is. However, Motorsports, is a whole sport with in itself, its dynamics are complicated and diverse ... what it takes to be a professional in motorsports is far different than what it takes to be a professional in any other sport, hands down the degree of commitment involved to make it to, and maintain a place in the professional motorsports big leagues is hands down the hardest thing to achieve in sports. 

Here are the facts ...

Lets take NASCAR Sprint Cup as a starting point ... just to enter one race in the Cup series not only do you have to be a bad ass driver with lots of experience in order for NASCAR to issue you a GOLD Card driving license allowing you to compete in that top NASCAR series, you then need to have a multi million dollar race team that involves a million dollar transporter (18 wheeler truck made into a full race shop with a million dollars worth of tools, spare parts and high tech engineering equipment), at least fifteen full time employees (crew members), at least one highly educated engineer to understanding the mechanical, aerodynamic, and geometric technology that makes the race car preform on the track, you need two fully equipped $250,000.00 high tech race cars (one to race, one as a back up in case you wreck the first one in practice before the race), you need to book hotel and travel accommodations for the teams crew, and for your self ... you need a top flight carbon fiber $3,000.00 racing helmet (and a spare), you need two $2,000.00 driving safety uniforms with safety driving shoes and gloves ($400.00), a HANS head and neck safety restraint at $2,000.00, and a sponsor willing to pony up $200,000.00 in order to pay the bills (budget) for just that one event and a huge wing and a prayer that you can actually qualify for the race as you compete with bigger and better financed  race teams. That's some where around $2,710,000.00 dollars just to make one race in the Sprint Cup ... not to mention the multi million dollar race shop back at team headquarters. (Note: top teams in NASCAR Sprint Cup like Hendrick Motorsports that Jeff Gordon , Jimmy Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Drive for have over 400 full time employees, ten full time PHD engineers, twenty full time marketing and PR employees who work 24/7 finding and maintaining $30 million dollar per car sponsors). Not only do race drivers have to be bad ass talented driver/athletes, they also have to be marketing experts that fortune 500 executives think can represent their company and engineers who can relate to the crew on what makes the race cars tick, they're also on the road with their teams virtually 300 days out of the year racing, testing and reping sponsors. So, last time I checked, what it takes to just compete in one NASCAR race is a far cry from what it takes to compete in one PGA, LPGA, MTA or WTA tournament ... plus, every time a race driver straps into to his or her 200 miles per hour racing machine, the risk of not returning in one piece or worse is always looming ... you do not have that added stress in any other stick and ball sport.

Oh yeah, FYI ... there are over 2000 working parts on a race car that control the performance of the car and all can either make you or break you as a driver ... just one little $1.00 bolt can break and cause you to not only loose the race, it can cause you to destroy your $250,000.00 stock car or $1,000,000.00 Indy Car. Auto Racing is the only sport where you can be leading your opponent by fifty points (one lap on the track) with ten seconds to go and still loose the event ... not because you as a competitor made a mistake, but because a tire blew out, a bolt broke or another competitor crashed you out ... racing is just a different bird, its so complicated, so unpredictable and so damn cool. In the end, all versions of motorsports have these same dynamics as the NASCAR Sprint Cup model, Midgets, Sprints, Indy Cars and Sports Cars all have to live with in the same confines of engineering and financing their efforts. In tennis or Golf, you basically bring your talent, book a room, have your clubs ( a caddy) or tennis racquet's (a coach) and some cool and cute clothes to wear ... then play your butt off. Clearly, Motorsports trumps the what it takes to play card driving away. 

Motorsports is my life, I love it, its in my DNA and, I'm pretty damn good at it too with over 500 career wins and a few National Championships throughout my career. I've been fortunate to make a living driving race cars and even made it to NASCAR Sprint Cup. I've done it all in the sport, I've designed and built cars from the ground up, sold deals to marketing partners, drove the transporter to the track after working all week with no sleep with broken ribs taped up from a big crash and not taking medication to ease the pain cause I wanted to be ready and alert once I strapped into my race car to compete ... and did all of this dealing with a terrible biological anomaly, horrible social and political politics that put my life and career in risk (I was born in a small town in Mississippi to blue collar parents,  not in Hollywood or the affluent North East and my sports was good ole boy high level macho cut throat motorsports ), but I stuck it out, payed my dues and made it because I loved the sport, all of it. I assure you, me making it in motorsports, winning those over 500 races, racing with those broken bones and sleeping on the floor in my race shop was and is, a bigger, and more difficult deal than making it in the stick and ball world ... or hitting the dance floor on a Television reality show ... (by the way, there is no women's racing league, and I'm the only person in the world to compete in professional sports/motorsports as male and as a female - plus I was a winning professional in the worlds biggest spectator sport, not an armature before my corrective surgery in 1994 ... as a 5'6', 119 lb, 34/24/34 model, author, professional race driver, designer and engineer, I think my accomplishments speak volumes for the finer differences between me and the people others constantly want to compare me to ... it's just a wee bit insulting to me) there is no debate, just say'n!

We felt the need to write this blog to combat some snarky urban people in the diversity community on the net trying to play down my accomplishments and sport ... race fans get it, always have! 

 Everyone in the public arena has to deal with a small % who want to put their two cents worth in on something they know nothing about ... everyone from Danica Patrick, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr to Jesus Christ has people smack them around ... the key is, the majority of fans and the public support all of us, but you still want to kick it back to some of the naysayers, just to get your dig in too! LOL!

Terri O’

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