by Caleb Maclean

Mike and Suzanne are what some would call the classic suburban power couple. They are generous, good-natured and successful. Both are fit, focused and—when it comes to sports— fearsome competitors. Naturally, their teenage sons have followed in their parental footsteps. Michael (15) is a member of a state championship swim team. George (17) is nationally ranked at two miles and a member of the winning 4 x 800 prep relay team at the Millrose Games in Madison Square Garden. Along with their growing collection of ribbons and trophies, the boys have also acquired the less than- charming adolescent swagger that comes with the realization that they can now best Mom and Dad in almost any sport they choose. One notable exception? Operating an automobile. Neither yet has the means (nor the license) to prove what, to them, is a foregone conclusion: that they are “better drivers” than their mother. This is the same woman, lest they forget, who has chauffeured them flawlessly to and from more practices and meets than they can, or she cares to, remember. Water under the bridge, Mom. It’s all about what you can do, not what you’ve done. And so it was with considerable enthusiasm that Suzanne accepted the opportunity to put her two backseat drivers in the front seat for a Family Race one Thursday evening in March at Pole Position Raceway, the indoor karting venue located near the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. She admits she was itching to teach Michael and George a lesson as all three pulled on their helmets and strapped themselves into their karts (which—because of Michael’s age—were limited to a still-speedy 30 mph). Suzanne also admits to underestimating the fact that her sons work together like Velociraptors. With their three vehicles lined up one behind the other to start, the boys insisted she have the honor of taking the lead kart. In almost any race, both teens knew, you want your adversary ahead of you so you can choose the time and place of their ultimate defeat. In other words, she was dead meat before they started their engines. The flag dropped and the three roared into the first turn. Moments later, Suzanne found herself in third place. A nudge from George and then a stronger bump from Michael sent her into the black-and-yellow padded barrier. By the time she got back up to speed, she was playing catch-up. She never did close the gap on her sons, who showed her no mercy and gave her no daylight. They were too busy fighting for fraternal supremacy. George edged Michael at the finish line, with Suzanne a few heartbeats behind. “I should have realized they would never let me win,” she says bemusedly. “Even though I’m their mother, they will still win at any cost. The mistake I made was that I never should have started in front of them.” In the days that followed, as Suzanne returned to chauffer duties, mother and sons had something new to discuss: the fact that they were now officially, indisputably and undeniably “better drivers” than she—against a wealth of evidence still to the contrary. Suzanne reminded Michael and George that she had nearly caught up to them after they sent her into the wall. They corrected their mother, informing her that she had actually fallen a full lap behind! Shifting gears quickly, Suzanne pointed out that handling a kart at 30 mph takes considerably less skill and experience than zig-zagging through Turnpike traffic at 75 (although for the record she has never done that). Blank stares. Exasperated, Suzanne said that intentionally running your materfamilias off the road doesn’t make you a “better driver”—it makes you a dangerous one. Michael and George refused to dignify their mother’s accusations of collusion and dirty driving. Both maintain that Suzanne was the unfortunate victim of an unlucky accident. Looking back, Suzanne says the only humiliation she actually suffered that evening was being photographed on the victory stand with her boys (now both six-footers) towering over her. Otherwise, it was a tremendous experience. “It was very entertaining,” she says. “We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It’s a great place. We hung out for an hour after the race. The people there couldn’t be nicer.” Okay, down to brass tacks. In a return engagement, does Suzanne think she would avenge her defeat? “I do,” she says with a competitive smirk. And just how? “No way I’m divulging my strategy! Let’s just say that Mom’s still got a few tricks up her sleeve.” EDGE

Editor’s Note: Pole Position ( is located off Exit 14B of the New Jersey Turnpike and is open seven days a week. Family Races are run Monday thru Thursday. Direct: