You know those people who you think you know, but they find always find more ways to surprise and amaze you with their lives? This trope perfectly fits senior Valeria Marques, who is a competitive autocross racer.
Autocross is not what you would think of when you think typical car racing; it is focussed on discipline when controlling the steering wheel, so all the racing is done under 40mph. The track is an agility course, and the objection is to get through the whole thing in the shortest amount of time.
So, how does one even discover and go on to participate in such a sport? For Marques, it all began with her dad picking it up as a hobby as a teenager. Although he now also participates in NASCAR track racing, when his daughter first got her license, he took her to the autocross track and began to teach her all about the sport. Marques said the thought of doing autocross “always been in the back of her mind,” and she has ’s been in it ever since.
The autocross season takes place from spring to fall with a break in the winter. There are nine competitions to participate in, but Marques does not compete in all of them due to normal life events “like college visits or test dates” she says.
“I only compete locally, but I know people who travel nation-wide and I would want to if given the opportunity,” she said. Since she plans on racing in college, it would be an exciting opportunity if one day achieved. In terms of other racing besides autocross, Marques would consider doing NASCAR track racing, but it is “much more dangerous.” For now, she is happy racing in her regular red BMW 330.
“Autocross is an individual sport, but you can have instructors in the car to give you tips,” Marques said. You can also race in certain clubs or divisions, similar to other sports. Valeria races in the Lone Star BMW novice division, composed of about 20-30- people of which she is the youngest and one of the only girls.
“I have a few friends in my division,” she said, “But the youngest person competing is in college.” As for the women in her division, Marques said: “they’re awesome and powerful and I love them.” And it is’s obvious she fits right into that definition herself.
As for trophies, she hasn’t won any yet, “but they’re given out at the end of the year,” so she will have to wait a little longer to see the results.
Although she has never had any mishaps with her car, “malfunctions do happen and they’re hilarious,” she said with a smile. Nothing dangerous, of course, just occurrences like car spinouts that can take 20-30 seconds off your time. Since the course requires lots of drifting time, it’s not uncommon to come home with a lot of bruises, which she does attest to.
Her favorite part of racing? The feeling of the car whipping around the track. She described it as “a rollercoaster you get to control,” which accurately applies considering all the slips and drifts of pure acceleration she does when racing. With a year of racing under her belt, she has’s had many great memories but her most cherished one came as a surprise.
“My best memory wasn’t in the car, but eating Subway meatball sandwiches with my dad while watching other races,” Marques said fondly. Her love for racing goes far beyond the act itself and is much about the company she keeps while doing it. She added that she is also quite excited to catch up to her dad’s speed in the coming year once she cuts down the next 5-10 seconds. Nothing like a little friendly competition.
As expected, Valeria continues to amaze all of us with her talents and mostly unknown life outside of school. Moral of the story: take the time to ask that one friend you think you know a few extra questions about their life. Who knows! They might have some amazing secret life themselves.