The Road to 24: Remembering Amber

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I’ve said before that The Road to 24 shows the family aspect of my racing. Family has always been important to me, and I am able to pursue a racing career because of their support. Even our team name—GB Racing—has a family tie. The “GB” stands for “Granny Barb.”

But one part of the documentary that really focuses on family is an interview I gave during a track day at Barber Motorsports Park. In it, I talk about my cousin Amber Harrison. She and I grew up together, and we were close from the time we were both a year old. We used to spend every weekend together, mostly at Granny Barb’s house.

Six days before our season finale at Road Atlanta last year, Amber was killed in a car accident. She was only 21 years old. She was speeding while driving in not-so-ideal weather conditions that included rain, and when she dropped a tire off the shoulder, she overcorrected and crashed.

The other MX-5 Cup drivers ran a sticker in Amber’s memory at Road Atlanta, and some of the IMSA WeatherTech and Continental Tire Series cars had the sticker, too. As our season finale and my home track, Road Atlanta was the most important race of the year for me, but it took on a new meaning after losing Amber.

I’ve always been an advocate for safe driving, but now it’s more important to me than ever to spread the word and talk about why it’s important to pay attention while you’re driving.

Safe driving means techniques like keeping your eyes on the road, being aware of all your surroundings at all times, and not overreacting when situations arise. It’s harder than it sounds, because we have so many distractions. To put those things into practice, you can turn your phone off while driving, or not let your passengers turn up the music too loud.

I’m lucky enough to instruct teens for the B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-Active Driving Curriculum and Atlanta Motorsports Park’s Street Smarts teen driving program. They do a good job of putting students through various conditions in a safe area, so when they’re out in the real world, they can better deal with anything that happens. The teens I meet share stories about some of their bad driving experiences, and it’s a reminder that one small distraction can have lifelong consequences.