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

--Ernest Himingway

2/8/17

 

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, Veterian




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 the LGBT or diversity power players, or organizations. 
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 Bruce J hunt, except to say, ant it off how so many step up and shower him with love and admiration ... and actually people should be nice to him, not judge him, give him 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! 
Lately, some new friends have made the statement that I look like Stevie Nicks, (Fleetwood Mac) 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, cant 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, playing a TG convict (yeah that's out side the box and different)  and she is the new media darling and spokes person for the TG community, oranges is the new we have lost our freak'n minds ... 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 that community, and that gets me black listed by them, when they should be supporting me ... not trying to be pissy with me ... always trying kill my efforts. But I can now see, that's never going to happen!
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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3/23/15

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

 

 

3/14/15

                          "What Did It Take"

   "Talent Counts ... so does hard work ... this ant T - Ball where everyone 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 level 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 Patrick (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 bunch of professional athletes in Atlanta at the Final Four while attending a pro athletes forum. These pro football, basketball, base ball and tennis dudes clearly tried to present their athletic superiority over me ... how in the world could some 120 pound chick ever be as athletic, accomplished or as brave as they were. Ironically, I was the only one in the room who had gone over 200 miles per hour in a car, and had a national championship. I sat in a machine that went twice as fast as any of them could throw a fast ball or hit a tennis ball ... and my bravery in competition and life could not be matched by these hot shots on any human level. 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 most of 2013 with my racing efforts ... since February I've already put in at least 20 all nighter's working on my teams and traveling up and down the interstates (mostly alone) ... so I was 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 over 500 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 wagging around this devastating gender issue which it semed at times, every one used against me in any way they could. 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 racket 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'

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Dec
09

Tweet from Mother Jones (@MotherJones)

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December 9th, 2013

Mother Jones (@MotherJones) tweeted at 7:01 PM on Fri, Dec 06, 2013:
40 years of college football's sexual-assault problem: http://t.co/EKetJyBrMh
(https://twitter.com/MotherJones/status/409125443519123456)

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