The night before Jackie Corwin takes her race car to the track to compete, she can't sleep. She feels like a little kid about to go on a Disney World vacation. It's a feeling this 53-year-old mom and medical assistant from Vista, California, thought had ended with childhood. "To get that feeling at this age, when I thought those days were over—it's awesome," she says.
Corwin may be one of the fastest Porsche Club race car drivers in her division, but she isn't a rich housewife with a fancy hobby—she's a blue-collar woman with a daredevil streak. Her husband, a Porsche mechanic by trade, talked her into becoming a Porsche Club race car driver in 2002, when she gave up sky diving instructing after undergoing surgery to treat ovarian cancer. "I said, 'Okay, I'll try it.' It was just a standard car; it wasn't modified in any way. And I went out, and it was too much fun! So exciting!"
By 2005, Corwin had her own team, LeMom racing, and was taking on fellow drivers in wheel-to-wheel competitions at speeds up to 130 miles per hour—and she was good . "I was beating everybody, so [my husband] built me a real race car, and I think I have lost one race in five years," she says.
Curt Yaws, vice president of the Porsche Club of America San Diego region, says Corwin is one of the club's most enthusiastic and skilled drivers. "Plus, she is brutally competitive," he says. Corwin says becoming a race car driver has brought out a newfound confidence she didn't know she was lacking. "It was enlightening because it helped define me as a person, and I didn't realize that I needed that. When you are a mom and you focus on your children or other things in your life, sometimes you forget about you," she says.
Corwin's only child, her 19-year-old daughter, Casey, says she's seen the difference racing has made in her mom's life and now she isn't surprised by any challenge her mom takes on. "If it's not a challenge, she's not interested. I think she's recently decided to try to go back to school, and [racing] has inspired her to learn more and be educated because her confidence is up and she can do that now," Casey says.
For the past few years, Corwin has turned more of her attention to helping young drivers learn the ropes of racing as a high-performance driving instructor. She also goes to schools and Girl Scout troops to talk with young women about the world of competitive racing. "I've completed all the goals I've wanted to in racing, so now my goal is to actually empower younger women as well as handicapped women to letting them know that if a woman my age, who is old, can do it, and you can do it too."
Printed from Oprah.com on Saturday, May 18, 2013
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