FRAMINGHAM, Mass. Michelle Trainor is a busy mother of three who admits she sometimes goes â€œjust a teensy bit over the speed limitâ€ in her 2010 Honda Odyssey. â€œThereâ€™s no way I could get my kids to all their soccer games and ballet lessons if I obeyed the law,â€ she says with a look of exasperation. â€œItâ€™s not like Iâ€™m an axe murderer or something.â€
That outlaw spirit, shared by so many other suburban mothers, has given rise to NASCARâ€™s latest feature, The Minivan Series by Pottery Barn, a competition limited to soccer moms with at least 2.3 children who drive minivans over suburban courses featuring mandatory â€œpit stopsâ€ at drive-through franchise restaurants.
Route 9 Raceway, Framingham, Mass.
â€œThe Pottery Barn Minivan Series is our attempt to make inroads into an affluent suburban female demographic,â€ says NASCAR spokesman Earl Salley. â€œThose women have historically looked down on us because we have grease under our fingernails and double names like â€˜Joe Donâ€™ and â€˜Gene Rayâ€™.â€
As with other NASCAR race series, fans of the Pottery Barn competition love rivalries between drivers, and Michelle is still smarting from a run-in last week with Mary Louise Peck of Olathe, Kansas, at the Overland Park 250. â€œThat . . . Iâ€™m not gonna say it, but it rhymes with â€˜itchâ€™ and I donâ€™t mean â€˜witchâ€™ . . . cut me off at the Dunkinâ€™ Donuts express lane,â€ she says bitterly. â€œThen she goes and orders a Strawberry Coolata and I end up out of the money.â€ The two â€œswapped paintâ€ in the parking lot on their way out onto the track, but no fines were assessed against either driver.
Race teams include not just a pit crew, but also â€œback seat driversâ€ in the form of actual children of drivers. â€œIt makes it that much more special when you win,â€ says Mandy Weiskopf of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, #45 in her Chrysler Town & Country. â€œOf course, the kids slow you down on the backstretch because if you come out of the turn too fast theyâ€™re liable to upchuck over the back of your seat.â€
The Framingham 200 is a challenging race that involves high-speed straightaways down Route 9, a crowded east-west highway, then a detour to Route 30 and a homestretch through Shopperâ€™s World, one of Americaâ€™s oldest shopping centers. â€œYouâ€™ve got to pace yourself,â€ says Jon Gomez, who covers NASCAR for Ladies Home Journal. â€œIf little Courtney doesnâ€™t like the Happy Meal toy for girls at McDonaldâ€™s on Route 9, youâ€™ve got to haul ass over to the Burger King on Route 30 through some heavy mall traffic on Speen Street.â€
The race gets underway and Trainor takes the lead on what she considers her home track since she lives in nearby Sudbury. â€œMary Louise Peck is not going to track her usual dog poop into my house,â€ she says grimly as she â€œbump draftsâ€ an elderly woman whoâ€™s been poking along five miles an hour below the speed limit with her right blinker flashing for two miles.
The senior citizen panics and ends up careening off the road into an office complex as Trainor zips by on her left. â€œIâ€™d call 911 but itâ€™s really not safe to drive and talk on the phone at the same time,â€ she says as she takes a sip of the vanilla iced latte she picked up at Dunkinâ€™ Donuts a lap earlier. She heads for the left-hand turn lane onto Route 30 when she sees her nemesis Peck in the rear view mirror. â€œIf that blue eye-shadowed bimbo thinks sheâ€™s going to cut me off she can think again,â€ Trainor says as she swerves past a delivery truck.
â€œMommy, Iâ€™m hungry,â€ whines Caitlin, Trainorâ€™s ten year-old daughter from the back seat. â€œWhat do you want, punkinâ€™?â€ her mother asks. â€œI wanna go to Wendyâ€™s!â€ the girl replies, sending the mother into a tizzy.
â€œCaitlin, honey, Iâ€™ve told you before if you want Wendyâ€™s you have to tell mommy before we make the turn-off, okay?â€
â€œI WANT WENDYâ€™S!â€ the girl screams.
â€œTheyâ€™re all the same, sugar.â€
â€œNoâ€“Wendyâ€™s has square hamburgers!â€
Trainor turns around to console her daughter and as she does so she sees Peck cut around her just as the green arrow begins to glow on the traffic light overhead.
â€œDammit,â€ Trainor says. â€œNow look what you made me do!â€ she snaps at her daughter.
â€œMommy said a swear, Mommy said a swear!â€ her son Jason, 9, begins to chant.
â€œIâ€™m sorry, sweetie, sometimes Mommy gets mad and loses her temper.â€
â€œNow you have to take me to Wendyâ€™s or Iâ€™ll tell daddy,â€ the girl says with finality.
â€œYour daddy says a lot worse than that, sugar, so you donâ€™t scare me. Youâ€™re just gonna have to settle for Burger King because I canâ€™t turn around.â€
Trainor puts the â€œpedal to the metalâ€ and gains some ground on Peck, who makes a critical mistake by turning onto the access road to Bed, Bath & Beyond rather than the cut-through that would take her to a victory lap and the grand prizeâ€“a $1,000 shopping spree at Pottery Barn, the upscale home furnishings store.
â€œIâ€™m right on your bony little ass,â€ Trainor mutters to her rival under her breath as she whips into the drive-through lane at Burger King and turns to take orders from her children. â€œTell me what you want and make it quick!â€
â€œI want a root beer and a Whopper Jr.â€ her son replies.
â€œI want a large order of fries, a Double Whopper with cheese, and a big chocolate shake,â€ her daughter says.
â€œSweetie, the doctor says you have to cut back a little or youâ€™re going to look like a Hungry, Hungry Hippo by the time youâ€™re in high school.â€
â€œWhy donâ€™t you try the BK Veggie Burger?â€ her mother asks. â€œItâ€™s good for youâ€“or at least not as bad for you.â€
â€œMay I take your order,â€ a disembodied voice barks through the drive-up loudspeaker.
â€œI WANT A DOUBLE WHOPPER!â€ Caitlin screams, and her mother relents as she sees Mary Louise Peck turn around and exit from the mall parking lot.
Their food paid for, the Trainor family heads for home on the heels of Peck and her brood of tow-headed youngsters. The light at the Oak Street intersection changes to yellow, then red, causing Peck to slow down, giving Trainor the opening sheâ€™s been looking for. She pulls off to the right as if to reverse direction at the intersection, but then makes a right-on-red that will give her a ten car-length lead by the time the light changes to green.
â€œWhy you frigid, frost-headed slut!â€ Peck yells out her window.
â€œSorry, Mary Louise,â€ Trainor calls back. â€œIt takes a really good bad driver to get the checkered flag in Massachusetts!â€
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