Describing the daring decision as a mid-life crisis would not be accurate.
Anthony Simmers is 43, but he feels like a kid again.
And his life would not be a fulfilling one if the Boulder resident and small business owner didn't sell all of his personal belongings last year to purchase a race car.
To be more specific: The No. 45 Volkswagen GTI car that was the talk of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) circuit last season.
"It has been my life-long aspiration to drive race cars. I've always felt I have an innate ability to do this," Simmers explained. "Not doing it had been driving me crazy inside."
For some people on the outside, the idea of investing everything in a childhood fantasy sounds insane. Simmers admits a high price was also paid in his personal life.
"To be honest, it probably did cost me a relationship," he said.
Many of the drivers in the SCAA Rocky Mountain Division compete in the sport as a hobby. An expensive hobby. Running in the regional series costs approximately $20,000 a season with a tab of about $300,000 to drive in the national series.
After getting his car ready for high-level competition, going through the driver's school and licensing process, and buying all of the required safety equipment (from a helmet to a fire suit), Simmers' tank was on empty before No. 45 rolled up to the starting line.
"Going into the first race I was like, '(Expletive), I'm out of money.' I didn't even know how I was going to make the entry fee," Simmers said. "And then I got a letter from one of my credit card companies doubling my limit. That enabled me to buy tires and pay my entry fees."
This is where the story takes a dramatic and unexpected turn. Simmers won his class in his very first race at the High Plains Raceway east of Byers. The money from the result helped pay for another race and the ride isn't over yet.
"Since I had no experience they made me start from the back of the pack basically, so I wouldn't cause a crash," Simmers said. "I ended up passing up to second place in the group. It was pretty amazing. The vision I've had in my head, my dream or whatever, everything has definitely been coming to fruition just the way that I had meditated about it or thought it would go from that first race. ...
"It was all overwhelming. Some of the spectators after the race came out and talked to me in the pits and said, 'That was amazing. We can't believe that was your first ride.' Even some the workers were like, 'Who's driving that 45 car? That was sick.'"
Simmers put together a résumé from his first season that includes:
Rookie of the year for the SCCA Rocky Mountain Division.
First place and fast qualifier at the SCCA Majors National, High Plains Raceway.
Second place and fast qualifier at the SCCA Majors National Invitational, Pueblo Motorsports Park
Second place at the BF Goodrich Super Tour, High Plains Raceway.
Fastest race lap at the SCCA Last Chance National, High Plains Raceway.
Four SCCA National Rising Star awards.
Amidst the chaos of the competitive bumper-to-bumper, 145-mph thrill rides, a calm came over the rookie driver.
"Being in a race car, there's nowhere I'm more comfortable. It's the only time you're totally alone and in the moment," Simmers said. "For me, that's as Zen as it gets because you are so focused on the task at hand. The world around you could be falling apart and it really doesn't matter."
The fearless attitude Simmers brings to the track was developed during his painful career in mountain bike downhill.
"Mountain bike downhill is one of the most dangerous things you can do," Simmers said. "From the standpoint of confidence, when you're strapped into that car, you know you're not going to run into a tree or a rock directly with your body."
Simmers' long-term plan is starting to come together as preparations for the 2013 season, which begins with the SCCA National May 4-5 at High Plains Raceway, get serious.
AutoHaus Boulder owners Nic Godebu and Mark Mauro and master technician Tery Holt, whose shop specializes in German automobile care, have provided Simmers -- who lives in an apartment on Pearl Street -- with some affordable expertise.
"They've done a lot of work on the car and not charged me for it, which would be $120 an hour, so that's tremendous," Simmers said during an interview at AutoHaus. "I don't even have a garage, so my car lives here."
Other local businesses, including Backcountry Pizza & Taphouse and Auto Details Plus Salon, have also stepped up to sponsor the No. 45 car.
"This wouldn't be possible without the help of a lot of people," Simmers said. "I don't even own a truck to tow my car with. People would lone me a truck and people would lone me a trailer. Sometimes I'd have to go to U-Haul and get a trailer.
"The way that people have reached out for me, in some ways it restores my faith in humanity. There are people who just want to help somebody else realize their dream basically."
Simmers' business, Rebay Reseller, is the title sponsor of his start-up racing enterprise (Rebay Motorsports).
If all goes according to script, Simmers will move on to the Grand Touring (GT) road racing class and eventually the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race at the legendary Daytona International Speedway in Florida will be a part of this story.
A small group of diehard racing fans found the sanguine Simmers after one of last year's performances to shake his hand.
"They said they had been watching for years and had not seen someone with that type of talent. One of them said, 'I just want to know you because you're going to be famous,'" Simmers said. "That is definitely a dream of mine and a goal. Famous people obviously have a louder voice and they can make change in the world. I'd like to have a voice to help other people."
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