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Published 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Cars Porsche Published by J. Doe

Reaching for the stars

The Texan astrophysicist Kathy Mead competed in the legendary "Pikes Peak International Hill Climb" for the first time in 2020 – at the age of 61.

The Porsche community is full of remarkable characters, none more so than retired astrophysics professor Kathy Mead. The modest and straight-talking Mead sees her late entry into motorsport neither as unusual nor a disadvantage, however. Because if you don’t get into racing when you’re six, then you have to wait until you have the resources to go do it. In my case my first track event was when I was 51. And frankly, I needed some judgement before I put myself in a fast car!

With a 911 Carrera of the 997 generation across the USA

Mead fulfilled this ambition in 2010, buying a 997 generation Carrera with PDK transmission, a car she still has to this day and has twice driven coast-to-coast. Mead enrolled on numerous driver education days put on by her region of the Porsche Club of America (PCA).

From track events to competitive motorsport

And steer she did, rapidly growing both her confidence and skill set while modifying her 911 to suit with more track-oriented suspension, race seats and a roll bar.

“So I had a conversation with myself,” she recalls. “I said you have to either be chill about this, or you have to go racing. I decided to go racing.”

Analyses and training result in a continuous learning curve

Mead completed the 2017 season racing against fellow Clubsport owners and was looking forward to returning before ‘life got in the way and I had to take two years off’.

Driver coaching with Jeff Zwart

“I was aware of Pikes Peak but mostly through videos of people crashing spectacularly and that didn’t interest me,” Mead laughs. “But one day in January of this year Mike told me the deadline for registering was that night. It was decision time. I filled out the forms and it was done.”

Hampered by travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus crisis, Mead was unable to travel to Colorado in the months ahead of the event to try out the route and get a sense of what lay ahead. There was also the altitude to adapt to, and the small fact that Mead is afraid of heights.

“It’s a public road of course, and the first time I got above the tree line I thought the 35mph (56 km/h) speed limit seemed about right!

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Jan 30, 2021 at 06:08

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