Ginny S., 86, from Brookdale Bradenton in Bradenton, FL, was born in the small farming community of Hudson, NH. When she was 16 years old, the community of Hudson built and opened a racetrack. There was only one race held a week on Sunday afternoon, but Ginny and her friends wanted to see what the racetrack was all about. Because Ginny and her friends didn’t have cars, they would plead with their parents to drive them to the racetrack. Their persuasion usually worked, so Ginny and her friends would go to the track nearly every Sunday. From this early introduction to racing, Ginny would become what she now describes as a “70 year fan” of racing. This is why Ginny wished to ride in a NASCAR race car with a professional driver at the Daytona International Speedway.
Unbeknownst to her, her future husband, Mason, was also at the track in those early days, watching the races with his friends. Early in their marriage, Mason bought “a wreck of a BMW” and it was rebuilt and street registered. Over the years, Ginny and Mason owned 17 BMWs, with only 2 of them ever being new. Their shared love of cars and racing intensified when Mason tested his skills as a race car driver. Ginny still has his racing jacket and it is very special to her.
Every year, the couple would drive down south to Florida to attend the Daytona 500. When the Daytona 500 tickets became too expensive, they started attending Speed Week. They enjoyed watching the testing at the track. About 12 years ago, the couple’s trips down to the Speedway ended as Mason was dealing with health issues. Sadly, Mason passed away in 2015.
Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale Senior Living were excited to make Ginny’s wish a reality. On June 17, 2017, Ginny had the opportunity to participate in a ride-along Richard Petty Driving Experience at Daytona International Speedway. Ginny is sure that Mason would have loved doing this as well and that riding in a race car, “is connecting me to him and honoring him.” Their shared love of racing, particularly NASCAR, fuels the connection that Ginny has to her wish. Today, Ginny watches the races by herself. She jokes that perhaps her fellow residents think she is strange as, “I always say, ‘I have to go…the race is on!’” Ginny said the ride-along experience was “a blast. We went 165 mph, but it did not seem that fast. I could have had 3 or 4 more laps! It was a nostalgic trip for me – I hadn’t been to Daytona in the past 10 years.”
Photo credit: Meagan Scharmahorn, Emotive Photo