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Thursday Treasures

May 5, 2011 by Mariel Gutierrez
Speedy Gutierrez

A little over 15 years ago, well actually, 20 years ago, I received my first license. It's true; I was a child prodigy driver.  Before you dole out the 'wows,' I wasn't just any automobile driver prodigy, but a race car driver prodigy. Sure I couldn't reach the one pedal in my speedy, roofless race car ' heck, I still can't reach it without sitting on the very edge of the seat ' but I was an awe inspiring wonder behind the wheel. My mother's laughter and screams of excitement ' or maybe screams of fright; I couldn't tell the difference back then ' were clearly sounds of support and amazement at my maneuvering skills.

My young, eager eyes sparkled with excitement at every jerk of every crashing turn during my whopping 7.5mph track drive. The fact that I could 'control' the tyke-sized vehicle, without running it off the track, proved that I was a master of four-wheeled transportation. I don't recall who won the race, but I know I definitely made podium status. How else would I have earned my license? And if doubters needed proof of my prodigy driving skills, I need only present the Grand Prix Speedway License I earned at Walt Disney World. And guess what, I got to car surf and drive those racecars for a living 14 years later.

I acquired my second, and what used to be my favorite, license a few years later. Ironically, I didn't have to turn a steering wheel to earn it. Instead, my brothers and I were shown and taught the purpose of the different knobs, buttons, and other gizmos in the pilot seat. We only had to look and not touch. After some enthusiastic nodding, our pilot deemed us test pilot ready and told us to sit in our special, co pilot seats.

Through the expansive windshield, we watched the scenic property pass by, as our 'futuristic' monorail vehicle sped ahead at 40mph. Our pilot asked if he should turn left or right, based on how the track was turning. We answered and pointed enthusiastically with 'That Way!' or 'Left! I mean right!' Once we successfully reached our destination, our pilot congratulated us with our Monorail Co-Pilot licenses and told us that we can have his job in only ten years! If I wasn't skillful then, I sure was now; I received my second transportation license years ahead of reaching the state driving age. Where else in the world was that even possible? And even years later, the magic never ceased every time I sat in that "special co-pilot seat."

2007. My college roommate's first time as a monorail co-pilot.

Our monorail pilot, who was pretty stoked that we were his first co-pilots. 

My most recent license, and my new favorite, took up residence in my wallet only a couple weeks ago. I was appointed shot-gun this time, while my four-year-old niece eagerly took her place behind the wheel. Sitting, yet again, at the very edge of my seat, I helped out by pushing the pedal. And let me tell you, that thing is still surprisingly difficult to keep pressed down. As soon as the engine in our mini convertible turned over, my niece's eyes lit up and her mouth went agape. She couldn't believe she was driving for the first time.

My niece's first ride behind the wheel. Aren't her mouse ears awesome?!

During the entire drive, we both yelled phrases, such as 'Turn! Turn!' or 'Right! Right!' at every track curve. At the end of every turn, she would yell, 'Look, look! Let's go straight now!' She laughed brightly at every mini track crash, believing that's what happens whenever you turn. At stops behind stalled cars, her 'Uh oh; they broke again,' phrase would be followed by, 'We're going! Push the pedal to the metal!' At the end of the drive, my niece was presented with her first Autopia Driver's License. Her smile widened as she presented the driving rite of passage card to me. She asked me to keep her license safe for future drives in Disneyland together; and I whole heartedly obliged.



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