: Did you have any worries if you could do it again?

AS: Oh, my gosh - I was scared to death. I had no idea if I was going to be able to drive that motorcycle. I kept saying, “I just don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I can physically do this.” Everybody said, “Oh, man, you’re going to be fine. It's just like riding a bicycle.” I'm like, “OK, but this is not a bicycle.” And George reminded me, “Hell, no, it's not. This is a fire-breathing dragon.” I said, “Great, George, thanks a lot."

We got on the track for testing [at South Georgia Motorsports Park at Valdosta] and the first lap I was scared to death. I always said, “The day I become afraid to ride this motorcycle will be the day I will say I will never ride it again.” Until the day I retired, I had never been afraid of the motorcycle, except that day. But here I am, contradicting my own words. I'm scared to death and I'm about to go down the racetrack. I almost psyched myself out. I did my burnout and . . . almost flipped my visor up and said, “I’m sorry, I cannot do this.”

But I kind of just flushed it and I said, “I can do this. All I got to do is pop the clutch, and if the bike doesn’t go straight, I'm going to shut it off. It's just that simple. I'm going to test the waters here. So I pull into the staging beam. I get on the throttle. The Christmas tree comes on. I pop the clutch and frickin' drive it straight down the racetrack.

Because your licensing requirement has to be a half-pass, three moderate passes, and then two full passes. As soon as I got into third gear, I plugged it – fourth, fifth, sixth, and shut the engine off. I was like, "Oh my god! I did it! I did it!” I couldn’t believe I didn’t crash the motorcycle! I really thought I was going to crash the motorcycle. So I was so excited. Then when we got back up for the second round, I was still very nervous, not as afraid as I was. I did it again. After the second run, I was ready. I said, “I want to do this again!!!” We made all of our test passes, got my license activated, and went to Dallas. And it happened again.

: You mean that sort of “stage fright?”

AS: When we went to the staging lanes for the first round of qualifying, once again, I was not afraid, but I was so nervous I was starting to have chest pains again. I got down the racetrack, and after the first pass I was ready to go. Then on race day – I still know I enjoy riding the motorcycle, but do I still have the passion for winning that I had when I raced before?

I didn’t know that. I seriously did not know that until I staged for the first round of eliminations and took off down the racetrack. And when the bike would not go into sixth gear, I was so upset I screamed inside of my helmet and I could not believe that happened to me. I wanted to win that round so bad. I told George, “I definitely learned a lot this weekend. The most important thing I learned is that I want to do this and I want to win just as bad as the first day I ever started.”

He said, “That’s good to hear.” I thought that part of me would be gone for sure, because life changes. I'm a mom. I have a daughter. Your priorities change. I just didn’t know if winning was going to be that important to me anymore. But it still is.

: George said you told him you had wiped your whole career from your consciousness.

AS: When I left the sport, I didn’t look back. I completely just went away from drag racing. I didn’t watch. I didn’t ask. I didn’t wonder. I was completely done with it. I was done, and I said I would never go back to it. I was running around with a completely different group of people. None of them knew anything about drag racing. It wasn't what anybody talked about. I was done. I said I was never going back.

I kind of left with some resentment in my heart, because when I had my little girl, I was mad that I waited so long to have her. And I blamed my career. I was like, “I cannot believe I kept putting this off for all the years I did for that.” She is so much better than anything I've ever done in my life, and I was so mad that I waited as long as I did. She’s three and a half now, and I started thinking about how much better a mom I am today because I waited so long. I had to do all the things I wanted to do. It was God's plan. It was just the way it was meant to be.

And I still regret a little bit that I was 40 years old when she was born. I'm still sad when I think about I may never see, especially if she waits as long as I did, I may never see grandkids. I don’t know how old she's going to be when she loses me. I'm hoping it won’t be very young, but I kind of feel bad, like I should've . . . kind of like I did something wrong to her, because I waited too long. That's the only regret I have. But I accept the fact it happened when it was supposed to. There's nothing I can do to change that.

: God’s timing is usually different than ours, but it’s always better.

AS: People don’t understand what you’re sacrificing. I gave up so much time away from my family. I missed weddings and funerals and birthday parties and my class reunion. I missed so much stuff in my life so I could be at the races. And that was the stuff I was thinking about, what all I gave up for that.