By Patrick Olsen on June 4, 2007
CONCORD, N.C. — Gabrielle Reece knows what she wants in a car, and it’s not very different from her needs as a pro volleyball player. She wants the high view.
“I like to be up high in a high car,” Reece said at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C. “I like to see what’s going on.”
Reece was one of a dozen celebrities taking part in “Fast Cars & Superstars — Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race” back in March; it’s scheduled to air beginning June 7 on ABC, and Cars.com is a sponsor. Reece, who competed against her husband, renowned surfer Laird Hamilton, along with actor William Shatner and others, said she has unique demands for her cars.
“With my size, at 6-foot-3, I need to fit into a vehicle,” she said, noting that she drives a Land Rover LR3 and a Range Rover Sport. She said she likes riding high because “I think it’s safer. I’ve got kids with me. I’ve got stuff. I’ve got golf clubs and sneakers and kid stuff, so I need a lot of room.
“I like a car where you can put your foot on the gas and get on with it a little,” Reece said. “I do like to drive aggressively. I feel like, in some ways, being concise is being safer. I like to have a vehicle that can respond.”
Certainly the race car she rode in at Lowe’s fit that bill, and then some. Reece said it was a blast.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said just after her ride-along. “When you’re driving with guys that know what they’re doing, and they’re talented, for me I just wanted to sit back and enjoy the ride and try to observe a little bit of what he’s doing.”
So, did Reece have any cringe moments — perhaps feeling they were getting a little close to that wall there?
“Not really, but when you come out of the turn and the wall’s there, you’re like, ‘Hmmm. I wonder how close I am to that wall,’” she laughed. “There comes a moment where you trust this person and, you know, they’re doing it. It’s about not putting a lot of energy into freaking out.”
The race track is a long way from where Reece earned her driving chops. If she was lucky, she said, as a teen her parents would let her take their Honda Civic station wagon out “and get milk for the family.”
Her second car was “a really cool car at the time,” a Toyota Supra that she got after her first year in college. At 19, she bought her own Civic hatchback.
Now she has a family and is pitted against her husband in a reality race show.
“Laird is, to me, certainly more talented in driving and in aggression and dealing with a critical situation,” Reece said. “I’m more methodical, building into things. So it’s whatever one of those methods is going to work in this situation.”
For his part, Hamilton didn’t guarantee victory over his wife. And she wasn’t making any promises, either.
To win in a situation that you’re unfamiliar with, Reece said, you have to pay attention.
“I think for me the intelligent strategy would be to absorb as much information, and execute and worry about that,” she said. “If you can do that, you have a better chance of winning.
“Me saying I’m going to take Bill Shatner down is not all that productive.”
Editor-in-Chief Patrick Olsen was born and raised in California. He loves pickup trucks and drivers who pay attention. Email Patrick