As I was known for being a speed demon behind the wheel, my 50th birthday seemed like a good time to fulfill my dream of driving a race car.

A quick Internet search found the chance to drive a race car at Dover International Speedway. I signed up and arrived at the track on the appointed day, accompanied by my husband and sons.

Being the only woman, I was dubbed Danica, after Danica Patrick, during an orientation trip around the track. This was my first inkling I was in trouble. Not a big NASCAR fan, I was unaware the track is steeply angled.

Getting in the car was like entering a spaceship. I had assumed — incorrectly — that there would be an instructor in the car with me. Once I was buckled in, there was no turning back. We were a line of three cars: the instructor; another driver; and me bringing up the rear. I was told to follow them for 10 laps, but after the first lap, both cars disappeared from view.

The flag man started waving at me. What was that signal supposed to mean again? Panic set in as I went through the signals in my head.

I was happy to see the last-lap flag wave so I could pull back into the pit. I earned the respect of my sons and the other drivers, but the best part was the awe in the faces of the other drivers’ wives.

Kathleen Wiacek,