WHAT I LEARNED WHILE WORKING THE DREAM CAR SPRINT

We all have dreams—or a bucket list. Our lists are all different. Some dream big. Some dream small. Some of us have a desire to scale Mount Everest, while some of us simply wish to have just one hour of quiet time to ourself.

We all dream of things we’d like do or accomplish before we die.

Last year I was invited to take photos at an event here in Milwaukee called the Dream Car Sprint. There’s a company called Gotham Dream Cars based out of New Jersey, Miami, and Los Angeles that travels from city to city around the United States with a semi truck trailer full of Lamborghinis and Ferraris allowing participants to drive three laps on a closed autocross course—a flat track built on an empty parking lot.

A friend of a friend is a member of the Sports Car Club of America, the SCCA. Gotham Dream Cars has a core team who travels from city to city, and then they contact local SCCA clubs looking for people who’d like to work the event in their hometown, thus cutting down on their travel expenses.

A year prior I had taken high school senior photos for the son of this friend of a friend, and she gave Gotham Dream Cars my name for the photographer position.

You just never know when a connection will bring an opportunity into your life.

At first I didn’t really get it. I showed up at the event thinking, “What in the world have I gotten myself into?” About an hour later it all made sense when a set of parents led their blindfolded son to the track. They stopped right next to the Lamborghini and his mom removed the blindfold. This little boy’s jaw dropped, and his eyes lit up brighter than the sun.

His mom said, “You get to go for a ride! Happy Birthday!” His parents had bought him a ride along for his eighth birthday. His mom told me that he had posters of Lamborghinis taped to his bedroom walls and that’s all he talked about—it was a dream come true for that little man.

So when Gotham Dream Cars called a couple weeks ago asking if I’d like to work again, I said yes without hesitation. We work hard. We work long days in the heat. We get sunburned through six layers of SPF50. But we have fun. We work as team. And we get to see person after person make his or her dream come true.

We get to see 80 year old women and men get behind the wheel of car they’ve dreamed of driving for as far back as they can remember. We get to see people at the start visibly shaking uncontrollably, unsure of themselves and their skills to drive a sports car, only to drive through the finish with a HUGE smile. Sometimes they even jump out of the car and yell, “I did it!”

I love it! I often wonder what this four minute experience inspires these people to do when they walk off the track. Do they continue to push their limits? I hope so.

This year I heard the most heart wrenching story and I’ve thought about it every day since. A man was driving off the track, finishing his three laps. His wife waved at me from behind the fence and asked if her and her son could come out on the track so he could be in the photo with his dad. “Yes!” I said. Waving her out.

The man’s son ran toward the parked car as his father was taking his helmet off—still sitting in the driver’s seat of the bright yellow Lamborghini. This man’s wife stood shoulder to shoulder with me. Her camera ready. I was just about to ask if she wanted to be in the photo too, when she said to me, “He’s dying of cancer and he’s always wanted to do this. If he lives long enough we’ll be back in August so he can drive the Ferrari.”

With a lump in my throat I asked her how old he is. She said, “He’s 40.” Seconds later he emerged from the car with a smile on his face. A look of accomplishment. Dark circles around his eyes. Ashen skin. And then a dry cough filled the air. I had to fight back tears as this man’s young son wrapped his arms around his dying father’s waist.

You just never know.

You just never know what the future holds for you.

Live big. Live well.

Don’t waste one precious moment. Life is short and life moves fast. Whatever your dream, no matter how big or small, keep it in sight and keep taking the small steps forward to make your dreams come true.


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