Back Where it All Began

August 24th, 2015 by Kate

This past weekend brought a sight many of us weren’t sure we’d ever see again: an autocross at the Cumberland airport. The road back to CBE was a long one, and it took a whole lot of work from some incredibly passionate and dedicated people. And along with nearly 100 other participants, I got to reap the benefits of that labor of love with a great weekend with some of my favorite people.

This isn’t going to be an exhaustive recap of the weekend and the racing. If you’re on social media, you already know that Wade took FTD on Saturday, Matt Felten took it Sunday, and Mikey had the top PAX both days in the shiny, gold-chain wearing Whore-vette. The thing is, this weekend wasn’t about the scoreboard. And I’m not just saying that because I’m slow.

This was a homecoming.

Cumberland is why I started autocrossing. When I met Paul, he was just getting into it himself, and I said to him point-blank, “It’s cool that you’re into cars and racing and stuff, but if you try to pressure me to do it, I’m out.” He was smart enough to be cool with that, and I came to Cumberland with him for a few weekend events. We made the 3-hour trip out because Paul had gone to college in the area, and it was a good excuse to hang out with old friends. Those long car rides together were some of our earliest long talks and bonding experiences as a relatively new couple.

After a few years I got sick of just watching, and made the jump to driving myself. My first race wasn’t at Cumberland (it was an Autocrossers Inc. event at Ripken Stadium) but my weekends out there and my desire to fully be a part of that community were absolutely the impetus for me starting.

Paul and I have both made so many incredible friends through autocross, and a lot of those had their start in Cumberland. The nature of the weekend-long events that require nights away from home lead to a more social environment of racing than the run-of-the-mill local event. In the early years we stayed with Patrick, and those trips led me to consider Patrick the first friend of Paul’s who I also considered a friend of mine, rather than just “my boyfriend’s friend.”

Then came the hotel stays in LaVale, at the Best Western and the (in)famous Slumberland, and the evenings at Henny’s. Casual acquaintances became true friendships over dirty jokes and rounds of even dirtier shots at our favorite bar. When Paul and I got married in 2011, there were tables full of those same people, just looking a little better-groomed than I was used to seeing them. Paul was the best man at Mustang Boy’s wedding last year, another friendship that had its start at CBE.

Obviously, Cumberland racing has had a pretty big impact on my life. So getting to go back there, and spend two days sweating it out on the tarmac for a couple minutes of racing and hours of drinking and laughing with close friends was a big damn deal for me.

There was a lot of nostalgia this weekend. In the days leading up, I made up Bingo cards filled with old phrases and inside jokes. I didn’t really expect anyone to hold on to them and seriously play Bingo, they were more for the chance to reminisce and laugh when we all finally got back together at Henny’s Friday night. And maybe also to hear people say things like “Ladyboner” and “You gotta help me out, I’m naked!” again.

But this wasn’t just a one-off reunion. There are going to be two more weekends of racing in Cumberland this year, and hopefully we’ll get even more events next year. This weekend wasn’t only about remembering the past, it was also a new start for racing in Cumberland.

I’m hoping for the chance to create even more new friendships at CBE in the years to come.

I’ll invite them to my next wedding.

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