Now is that one of the most priceless photos you have ever seen? Allow me to introduce you to Rachel Gilbert, who celebrated her 100th birthday by taking a spin around New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the track’s official pace car. Sure, Miss Gilbert gave up her actual driver’s license way back in 1995, but that didn’t prevent track officials from giving her a crack at making some left turns at breakneck speeds. Upon learning about the chance, Gilbert stated that her goal was to hit the 100 mph plateau. Sounds safe.
Actually, it was all on the up-and-up and thankfully, no one died. Gilbert, a racing fan for almost 50 years, was surprised by her family with the once-in-a-lifetime experience after her daughter sent an e-mail to the speedway inquiring if they could do something special for his mom’s 100th birthday. Never did he suspect that not only would they respond, but allow her to go for a cruise.
More on Gilbert’s wild ride follows.
“She just loves racing so much,” said Mills, “but after I sent the email, I kind of forgot about it.”
When track General Manager Jerry Gappens got the message, he set in motion a celebration to match Gilbert’s NASCAR energy. “It’s very unique to meet someone who has lived 100 years,” he said. “Not only did I think it was possible, we wanted to have some fun with it.”
So, on an overcast day, with rain holding off and to the cheers of family and friends, Gilbert settled into the driver’s seat propped up by a pillow. Gappens rode shotgun.
“Oh my Lord, I guess we are all set,” she said with a wave to her fans and one last thank you. Revving the engine, Gilbert headed down pit row and into turn one.
Boy, even a cynical cur like me cannot help but allow my cold, embittered, blackened heart to be somewhat warmed by such a sweet story.
And her goal of topping out at 100 mph for her 100th birthday? She didn’t quite make it, barely breaking the 50 mph mark. Gilbert’s thoughts?
“Well, it felt like 100!”
I’m sure it did. Good for you, Miss Rachel Gilbert. Here’s to many more wild and crazy birthday celebrations.