Austen Authors July 23, 2018: Another year, another race, another reader

I recently went on a vacation with my sister. We’ve never done anything like this before, and I wish we had. It was great to spend that time with her and do things together. We went to Kentucky, visiting the Ark Encounter on Friday and Kentucky Speedway on Saturday.

The last time I was at Kentucky Speedway, I was with former Austen Author and fellow JAFF writer Rose Fairbanks, and we both wrote posts describing our experiences. I had a blast with Rose, and I hope to go to another race with her in the future. There are a couple tracks in her home state that I’d love to visit, and one in Tennessee, which is sort of halfway between us. I can make it that way, at any rate. 😀

  I always use my race experiences as research for my series of JAFF books that are set in the world of stock car racing, and this time was no exception. My sister and I paid for Fan Zone passes, which allowed us to walk pit road, do Q&A sessions with four drivers, and stand on the track up close and personal to the pre-race concert (Canadian country group High Valley was singing, and they were awesome) and driver introductions. Sadly, the temperature was in the 90’s (F), and we could not handle the heat, so we headed back under the track to the concourse and sat in the shade for most of the concert. It was a night race, so by the time driver intros began, our seats (right at the start/finish line, 11 rows up) were in the shade, so we moved down there. The breeze that blew almost constantly was nice, but it was entirely too hot. Makes me feel old and fat to admit it, but I just could not do pit road or stand on that black pavement for the other stuff.

  Still, I was able to gather some really good information about how this track does things. For example, this is the only track I have had pit road passes for that has escalators to get you down into the under-track tunnel. And I was incredibly grateful for them, because it was a long way down! 😀 This track also has you standing practically on top of the inspection area, where NASCAR officials inspect several aspects of the cars, from the engines to the undercarriage to the shape of the body. I did not previously realize that the cars were looked at so carefully. When I write the third Pride & Prejudice & Racecars book, I’ll be able to add details to the planned storyline that I wouldn’t have been able to before. I might even make a series official be the bad guy. 😀

Research is not the only thing book-related that I got out of this trip. My sister is a smoker, and we had a non-smoking room, so she had to go out in the parking lot to smoke. There, she met another race fan, a lady from Mississippi who was spending her entire weekend at the track. (Kentucky runs three races on their weekend: Camping World Series trucks, Xfinity Series stock cars, and Monster Energy Series stock cars.) I got to meet the lady later that day, and then the next day, Saturday morning, we saw her again. This time, our conversation extended to what we do for a living and I got to explain that I write books based on Pride and Prejudice characters. I had with me some teaser booklets containing the first chapter of Matches Made at Netherfield, and my sister encouraged me to give her one. When we left that day, she was reading it. Now, I don’t know that she finished it, or that she even reads Regency, but I did also mention that I have the Pride & Prejudice & Racecars series, and she obviously likes racing, so maybe she’ll pick one or both of those up. The important things are that she knows what I do and that we have formed a friendship. (By the way, she owns a formal wear store, and dresses girls for pageants and proms. She assured me she carries plus sizes and that if I ever need a formal gown, she can dress me, which is rather exciting!) We have “hooked up” on Facebook, and I look forward to getting to know her better.

  Before anyone gets too excited about my next race book, I should mention that I will be writing it in dribs and drabs. I’ll post the bits on my website as their own feature, tentatively called “Friday’s Race to the Weekend.” I don’t know when I’ll start, and I don’t know how long it will take me to finish. That is not a popular series and doesn’t sell well; and, though it offends the sensibilities of some, I do depend upon book sales for the paying of the bills. I have a general idea of what the plot will entail, so it won’t be hard to write, I don’t think. 🙂

How many people do you know who can relate NASCAR to Jane Austen and friends the way I do? 😀

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