I had no particular interest in learning to drive when I was a teenager. My mom had made it pretty that once I got my license, it was going to be put to use fetching things from the store for her, and I just wasn't motivated to became the driving errand boy. Plus, non-seniors weren't allowed to drive to school, and my school, because parking was fairly limited, was pretty a strong enforcer of that policy. I had many, many friends who had their cars towed because they figured they could get away with it. Basically, I didn't see anything in it for me in the whole driver's license thing, so opted out as long as possible.
That all changed during the summer after my junior year. We were leaving The Farm, which was in an area in Texas where you could drive unlicensed (at least, at the time), and my mom said something like, "We need to look into getting driving lessons for you."
"I don't need them, Mom."
"Sure, you do. Everyone needs them."
"Why? I already know how to drive. Why would you need lessons for something you can already do?"
"Oh, you do not know how to drive, either."
"Yes, I do."
There was one of those back-and-forth arguments here that finally ended in my mom saying, "Well, prove it."
So I did.
And then followed another argument about who taught me how to drive and what was I doing out driving without telling her and all of that, except that no one had taught me, and I'd never been behind the wheel before. Eventually, I guess, she believed me. I did not taking driving lessons, and I had my license before the end of the year, so in the fall of my senior year of high school.
As it turned out, I really loved driving. And I was good at it. Not that I was reckless or anything, but I was really good at moving through the traffic and timing things so that I made lights and all of that. I even got a... um... darn, I can't remember what it was called, but it was a license so that I could drive a van full of people, and I drove for my church. I had that "trucker" tan where my left arm was, well, not tan, because I don't, but a darker pink than my right arm.
But I never wanted to be a race car driver. That may be because the thing I liked most about watching races when I was a kid was the crashes, so I was hyper-aware of the fact that there were crashes. That and I thought racing, like NASCAR, was boring. I mean, come on, it's just going around and around in a circle, and how fun is that? However, if we still had racing like they did when auto racing first started, back around 1900 when it was city-to-city racing, I would be all over that. Or I would have been back when I was 20.
But how do you actually become a race car driver today?
Well, the first thing, really, is to be a good driver. Or racer. Or whatever you want to call it. To some extent, you need to know about the other aspects of racing, such as how to fix your car. You have to decide on what kind of racing you want to do, because there are a lot of options: formula, touring, stock car, drag, off road, and more. Once you know what you want to do, learn about it. Attend a racing school. You may not need it as far as the driving goes, like I didn't need driving lessons, BUT there are school racing circuits you can get into, and that's an easier place to get in than trying to get straight into the professional circuit. It will also give you a chance to gain sponsors if you can't afford your own car.
And that's the big thing, the car. Because it doesn't matter how good you are if you have a piece of crap car that you're racing in. Not that the car makes the racer, but it is a combined effort. In the end, it's one of those professions were some innate skill and a lot of practice really make the difference. It's not like you can go get a degree in race care driving, although that might be kind of cool to have hanging on your wall.