Een harde lach

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De volgende ochtend laat ik me door een taxi afzetten bij de universiteit. Als ik naar de ingang loop, staat professor Markowitz me al op te wachten. “Goedemorgen, Nick. We gaan vandaag naar Thompson International Speedway,” “Wat is dat?” “Dat is het autocircuit van Boston dat even buiten de stad ligt.” Mijn verbaasde blik beantwoordt de professor met een fijnzinnige glimlach en voor de tweede keer deze week stap ik in de oldtimer. Na drie kwartier rijden, parkeren we de Chevrolet op het zo goed als lege parkeerterrein van het autocircuit. Ik loop achter professor Markowitz aan naar de kantine, die achter de tribune is gevestigd en zie aan een tafel twee mannen in raceoveralls zitten. “He Don,” roept professor Markowitz en hij loopt op de twee mannen af. “Ik heb een speciale gast voor je.”
Even later zit ik wat ongemakkelijk met een grote kop koffie bij de drie mannen aan tafel. De man naast Don is Jack en hij is het hulpje. “Jij komt toch uit Amsterdam!” zegt Don. “Daar hebben ze toch hele andere koffie in de coffeeshops?”
Een harde lach schalt over tafel. Ik lach besmuikt mee en merk dat het bloed sneller door mijn aderen stroomt. Misschien ga ik vandaag voor het eerst in mijn leven racen op een autocircuit. “Kom, we gaan naar de kleedkamer,” zegt Don terwijl hij opstaat. Verbaasd kijk ik hem aan. “Ja vriend, jij gaat vandaag een geprepareerde Ferrari F430 met meer dan vijfhonderd pk besturen.” Het voelt alsof er geen woorden uit zijn mond komen, maar bloemen. Voor het eerst in mijn leven ga ik echt racen op een circuit. Niet veel later zit ik met brandwerende kleding aan en met een integraalhelm op in de bijrijdersstoel van het racemonster. We hebben via de microfoons in de helmen contact met elkaar. Don start de motor en geeft gas. De motor buldert en bedrijfsruimte nijmegen de Ferrari reageert razendsnel op het gaspedaal. We rijden het circuit op en Don geeft direct volop gas, terwijl ik me krampachtig vastklamp. Dit is nog eens wat anders dan rijden in een Ferrari op de openbare weg in Nederland. De G-krachten in de bochten zijn enorm, maar Don is een ervaren coureur die precies weet hoe ver hij kan gaan. Na een aantal rondes te hebben gereden, waarbij mijn maag zich meer dan eens heeft omgedraaid, stelt Don voor dat we van positie wisselen. Voor het.eerst kan ik de grenzen opzoeken van een opgevoerde Ferrari. Al snel heb ik grip op de duivelse krachten van de auto en rijd ik elke ronde sneller.

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