Adversity builds character.
If that is true, a pair of big crashes are going to make Sara Thorne a huge threat this summer at Eastbound International Speedway in Avondale.
Thorne, a 14-year-old from Chance Cove, attended the INEX Winter Nationals at the Citrus County Speedway in Inverness, Fla., last month, along with fellow Newfoundlanders Owen Groves, 15, of Hearts Delight and Portugal Cove’s Michael Neary, 16.
Neary is making the jump to a Legends series this season, while the other two are competing in the Bandolero class.
Thorne was in two Bandolero races in Inverness, but wasn’t happy with her outcomes. Both times, it was a case of not being able to finish what she started.
“I had two of the biggest crashes I have had in my career,’’ she said. “It was a bit scary, but I didn’t quit. I got back in the car and went back out and tried to learn as much as I could.”
Both times, pile-ups started ahead of her just as she was finding her stride, and both times, she ended up with nowhere to go.
“The accidents happened as I was pushing the car to the front of the pack,’’ she said. “As you work your way up, there is more risk because others are trying to do the same thing and taking risks of their own.”
As disappointing as the crashes were, Thorne still describes them as something that comes with racing. She knows that if she wants to be in contention for checkered flags, learning to deal with such incidents — during and after races — will be part of the process.
And even though she never got to cross the finish line in Florida, Thorne said she learned a great deal, especially when it comes to racing it close proximity to others. There were 28 cars on the track with her, more than double what she gets at Eastbound Speedway, and not all of those in Avondale are front runners like the drivers in Florida were.
“I learned a lot from Kendall (Sellers). He was my crew chief from A.K. Performance out of Charlotte (N.C.),’’ she said. “He told me if I see an opportunity, to take it, as it may not be there later in the race.
“He also told me to drive no matter what happens.”
"I had two of the biggest crashes I have had in my career. It was a bit scary, but I didn’t quit."
She took three things away from her Winter Nationals experience, the most important being that a few bumps and bangs won’t hurt you. Secondly, she learned a loose condition in the car setup equates to speed, and thirdly, that it is important not to drive out of her rearview mirror.
She’s anxious to put those lessons to use at home.
“I’m excited for the new year (at Eastbound) to start. I want to have a better year than I did last year and get some more top finishes,’’ she said.
If her season on the track turns out be anything like her season at the rink, Thorne could be in line for a lot of success. She scored the championship-clinching goal for her TriPen Ice hockey team in the recently completed provincial bantam AAA tournament.
“Mackenzie Dingwall, my linemate, brought the puck in deep and fed it to me. I took the pass and partially fanned on the shot, but it went five-hole on the goalie,” said Thorne, who added that while she enjoys hockey, she finds racing to be even more exciting.