Preparation and planning for this trip really paid off. The bus ran flawlessly through all 2245 miles round trip. With all rain in the forecast, we drove on dry roads for all but the last 2 hours of the trip as we headed in toward Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas.
We sat through two days of rain watching practice and support races but ended up with a perfectly beautiful day for the race. We got a chance to see a family member who lives in the Austin area. We also had a chance to meet up with a friend that works for Abel Motorsports on an F3 team. All in all, the trip couldn’t have been better, except for one nerve racking experience on the way home.
We had left the track on Sunday by about 4:00 PM and drove through to Texarcana, Texas where we stopped for a 3 hour nap at approximately 11:00 PM. We woke up refreshed and started back on our drive. Just before we reached Hope, Arkansas we passed an Arkansas State Police Trooper on the side of the road at about 4:00 AM on Monday morning. Cruise was set to 68 MPH in a 70 MPH zone when we passed him. I could see him in the median with his headlights on and didn’t think much more about it. It was nearly 10 minutes later and I noticed a car behind me pulling half way over the white line. The car maneuvered about a foot or two over the line in and out of the right lane of traffic for a few miles. It wasn’t until the blue lights came on that I realized it was the trooper behind us and we were being pulled over.
As the trooper approached the passenger side of the bus we opened the small passenger window so we could communicate with him. But as he walked up I kept thinking about what I could have done to cause him to pull me over. I quickly reviewed the minutes after we went past the trooper. We spoke through the passenger window for a minute until he asked me to open the door to the bus. Quickly I ran through my legal rights reviewing what I could do in the situation. I knew I didn’t have to open the door, but chose to, just to ease the situation. He asked me the normal question, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” but I had to respond that I really had no idea. I knew I was under the speed limit and had not wandered out of my lane. It was at that point that he informed me that he noticed me weaving in my lane and was concerned about my safety. I knew that was not correct, but assured him that we had just stopped for a break from driving and I felt refreshed and ready to keep going. He released us and we were on our way.
But here is the issue that I have with all of this, I knew I had not drifted out of my lane and I knew I was below the speed limit, but it was my word against his. How different would his response be depending on who was in that bus? It was the one point in the entire drive that I felt that I was no longer in control.
No matter how well you plan and prepare, there will always be things that are outside your control while travelling. Stay positive, respond in the most appropriate way possible, and treat people with respect when things outside of your control maneuver across the line into your life.
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