This has taken me a long time to write, as it has been a difficult time in my career, and to express my feelings towards what happened took some time to put in writing. So here goes…
Saturday April 17th: Race day at South Boston Speedway would turn out to be a day that will leave a scar on me for the rest of my life.
With an action packed night of twin 75 lap Late Model races, the Sellers team and I were ready for a great night of racing.
Buckling into my K&N, Lady Eagle Safety wear #94 that night "I had a feeling" that we were going to have a good night. The green flag dropped and the race was on, for 75 laps I slowly worked my way through the field. As the laps were winding down, I found myself so close to the top ten. With much encouragement from my team, I kept working hard and when the checkered flag dropped I crossed the finish line in 9th place! My first top ten of the year in only my third race! The Sellers team was pumped and we were ready for another 75 laps, with the goal of an even better finish. Little did I know my racing career would take a drastic turn for the worst?
The beginning of the race is always a challenge. Everyone is eager to pass cars and make their way to the front. A certain amount of patience is required, being aggressive is part of racing, but I do believe that there is such a thing as too aggressive. For 8 laps I ran bumper to bumper with the car in front of me and behind me. The field was still bunched up and not much passing was going on. Running in the 9th position I was feeling confident that another top ten was feasible. On lap 8 as I was rounding the final turn I felt a car hit my left side; Never letting up on the gas it continued to push me up the race track. I was trying extremely hard to keep my car out of the wall, but when the right side of my car finally reached the straightaway where it flattens out; my car took a turn for the worse. Spinning down the front straightaway the fans got an up-close look at what took place. Coming to a stop underneath the flag stand, I was in excruciating pain. I knew right away that my wrist had been broken.
After the initial shock, I told myself, “buck it up Natalie, you are just being weak, you are stronger than this” and then with a little encouragement from the team and my Mom I cranked the #94 back up the track! My adrenaline was flowing, I was so angry, why me? Why now? This was it; it was time to prove what I can do.
Shifting from third to fourth with one hand as the green flag dropped, I continued my pursuit. I wasn't giving up! I continued the next 60 laps very competitively holding off cars behind me and even attempting some passes all with one arm. As luck would have it, on lap 69 my car finally got loose spinning off turn two and ending my night.
Pulling into my pits, I was honestly heartbroken. “Why?” was all I could think! After changing out of my racing gear and having the very tentative paramedics at South Boston wrap my wrist I had so many thoughts going through my head… “What if it’s really broken?” “Will this be the end of my dream?” “Am I going to have to quit racing?”, and so on. It was an exhausting night and I would have to wait till morning to know if it was broken or not….
Sunday morning my Mom and I made a quick stop at Starbucks (of course) before heading to the clinic for x-rays. Waiting for the results was so very nerve racking. The Doctor came into the room and as I had thought… BROKEN. I had all I could do to hold back my tears, then when she proceeded to tell me that of all the bones I could have broken, I had broke the worst bone to break in my wrist! Trying to stay positive they put my wrist in a cast and told me that I would need surgery. So much for my season, so I thought….