A Racer’s Wife with Cameron Strang
This week we had the pleasure of chatting with Cameron Strang, On-Track teacher, Mom of two, and wife of XC1 racer Josh Strang! Just like racer's moms, racer's wives have a lot to juggle, especially when there’s kids in the mix. Cameron gives her inside scoop on what that's like, as well as some really great things she's involved in at the races. She also chats with us about the upcoming GNCC Apprentice Program thanks to On-Track School.
Let's kick things off with how you met Josh?! How did you end up in this world of GNCC?
We actually met at a Luke Bryan concert! So, country music is what brought us together. We're both pretty big country music fans. I was with a group of friends at the concert, he was with a group of friends and over time that's how we first met. We met up again later on and the rest is history! Looking back on it now, it's weird how we were just in the same place at the same time, it's crazy how the world works. I had been around dirt bikes a little, but nothing to the level of GNCC..
A sport like this can be pretty consuming, what was it like jumping in for you?
So, I was working a full time job as a teacher. At first he invited me to a couple of locals, then I got invited to a GNCC, I say invited because it's kind of a big deal for a pro racer to bring a random girl to a GNCC, you know. So, I went to a GNCC and thinking back on it now it was kind of crazy, it's this whole different world. It's a full time job for these guys.
Josh is a very quiet person. I call him an onion because once you get to know him, you peel him back in layers, and he's awesome. It's kind of hard to get to know that guy for the first couple of times.
When we first went to that race together, he was really quiet and didn't really say much. It was a different person during the week that I knew. On the weekend it's their full time job so they're taking it pretty seriously. After a couple of races, you figure out their ways and their little quirks and the way they do things. It just kind of all happened! Looking back on it now, it was a really big deal to get to go. You don't want to be in the way, but you want to help and don't know how, and now we have our rhythm and we do it every weekend.
It was definitely life changing, to see myself kind of mold into this person that goes to the race every weekend and gets dirty. Before I had never done that, I didn't grow up around motorcycles. It's pretty cool, and now to see my kids getting into it too! Like you said, it's definitely consumed our life now, for sure.
With kids in the mix now, it certainly takes a village to get going to the track, what's that like for a racer's wife?
So, as you know, Josh is from Australia, so he doesn't have his family here. I would probably say that's probably our hardest thing. As a couple realizing we just have each other and, thankfully, we do have my parents that come to a couple of ones that are close to North Carolina. So, we're thankful for that, but overall, it's just us two and we depend a lot obviously on our team, Babbitt’s Kawasaki. I think that was also a good thing as we grew really fast in the racing world together because he only had me a lot of times. It's a lot!
I start preparing for race weekend on Thursdays. I'll precook all of our meals, get groceries and all that stuff, so it's ready for the weekend. Now I'm working from home teaching online, so that gives me a little bit more flexibility.
Looking back on it now, I had no idea how I did a full time job and did the races on the weekend because it's just crazy. You wake up on Monday and I used to just go to work and now I get home and I'm like, "I don't know how I went to work that day!" I'm exhausted. It's always so fun, but it's a lot of preparation since it's just us. It's a full time job that's for sure.
On race weekend, he doesn't race until Sunday, but it's still full on busy from Friday through the weekend with the kids and Josh preparing. It’s so fun though, I wouldn't really have it any differently. I love GNCC's and I love going to the races.
With adding the kids to the mix, the last few years, it sounds like it adds a whole new element for you guys and a whole new fun factor too. What was that transition like from just you and Josh to adding the kids to this too?
Can I say stressful and fun at the same time?! When we had just Maverick, almost five years ago now, I felt like it was easy, like I had his nap schedule down pat. I'd wear him out on Saturday and then on Sundays, he would nap like almost the entire race. So, it was great. With one kid, it was like a breeze and then I had Tucker. Tucker is a bit harder. He's just as wild on Saturdays. Then of course on Sundays, I have to help Josh pit and be ready for the race.
Now I have two kids that are on different schedules, like one needs a nap and one's hungry and one's this, but I'm also fully prepared to help Josh. So can I say it was probably a lot easier when it was just Josh?! Haha.
At the same time, though, having kids at the races just brings a whole different level of love for your job. You can ask Josh; he just loves having the kids at the races. So, it's probably a very even mixture of stressful and fun.
What are some of the things you take responsibility for to keep Josh going strong for a 3 hour GNCC race?
So of course, we go to the start, that's a pretty big thing for us. Josh wants the kids at the start with him and I really like that. That's just something like our family's always done. The kids always get some Australian lollipops, it's become our little starting line tradition.
When I don't have the kids, Josh wants to see me on a bicycle at different spots on the track and giving him pit boards. He loves to have people out there, but he also fully understands my hands are kind of tied with the kids at times. A lot of the times I'm stuck at the truck even though I want to be out there too. But with that being said, I help with Josh's pit stops, so at the that time, fingers crossed, Tucker is napping! He's buckled into the stroller, and now Maverick is old enough he understands and is good about staying out of the way. Our kids are now pretty aware of when Daddy's racing, it's full on. I'm pretty blessed with having Saturday before the race to get their wiggles out so that by Sunday they're tired enough to just chill.
So, I help with the pits, and then the thing I dread the most is probably water bottle hand offs. It's probably the most dangerous part of my job! There's a clip on YouTube of one I did at Big Buck this year. I was standing at the chicane in front of the KTM rig where everyone else was standing. Josh hit something and came up on the mound, he was INCHES from me, going really fast too! He's agreed now that he needs to slow down for his water bottle.
I mainly stay in the pits during the race for gas and water bottle hand offs, then obviously we're at the finish line. Maverick likes to go walk to a couple of parts of the track, but sometimes it's just hard to lug them around.
Racer's wife on the weekends, but a teacher during the week! You went from a full time in person teacher to On-Track School teacher. How was this transition for you and how is it being a teacher for OnTrack?
Yeah! Before I joined On-Track, I was a kindergarten teacher for 10 years. I met my 10 year mark and then I taught while I had Maverick and my mom kept him part time. Then when I got pregnant with Tucker, at that point I really wanted to be able to stay home and travel around with Josh. GNCC is not a weekend job, you have to prepare for the race and you're gone all weekend and then they're recovering after the weekend, then on to the next. I really wanted to have the opportunity to travel and be with Josh more. These racers aren't going to do this forever, I just felt like I needed to do it while I could. I wanted to be there for all of it!
So when I had Tucker, I went out on maternity leave at the end of September. I had heard about On-Track, but I never really thought about it. We were watching one of the reruns of GNCC on RacerTV, Maverick watches it on repeat, and one of the commercials came on for On-Track and I thought, "huh, I should look it up!" I found out that Tim Cotter was on the board of directors and Josh said to send him an email. We talked later at the GNCC banquet, then we scheduled an interview and told me they were really interested.
Unfortunately, they didn't have anything in the elementary age, they told me I'd be teaching high school science! I kind of laughed and told them I would think about it. In my interview, I legitimately had to teach a high school biology lesson, it was a lot different than what I'd done before.
It all just kind of fell into place. I started by shadowing another teacher, doing their grading and seeing how everything works, to now I'm also a Home Room Coach. The students come to me once a month to catch up and I also teach a personal finance class along with the science classes. Very different from my Kindergarten years, but it's really good, I love it.
What's something that not many people know about On-Track School that you'd like to share?
I would definitely have to say that it is truly an accredited school. I think a lot of parents, especially GNCC families, whenever they ask me about On-Track, they don't realize that you receive a legitimate High School Diploma. They think that if they go online, it's almost like a step down from public schools and it definitely isn't. They have a quality education at On-Track, they get a high school diploma through Florida now because that's where our base is located.
It's an amazing opportunity for these kids that are kind of stuck in high school because they feel like they have to be when they'd like to have the flexibility to be at the track and train too.
So, that's probably the question I get the most that I definitely want to share with people that have thought about it or aren't sure. You get a real education. They have classes that range from, like, honors classes to credit recovery where if you struggle in a certain area, you can retake it and pull your grade up, just like in a normal high school. There's a lot of opportunities, especially for those kids that need that extra support, whether it's a learning disability or they just need extra support for their learning needs.
There are always all kinds of other opportunities too. The kids that race, they get a PE credit, they're racing experience goes towards their education too, and other opportunities that I think we'll touch on soon.
As you just hinted at, along with On-Track, you also help out with the GNCC Apprentice program! It's a really neat way for young adults to get involved in this sport, but not many people know about it, What's your take on how this program fits in and what it's like for you?
Yeah, it's really cool! They haven't totally started with GNCC yet, but they've done it at Loretta's the past couple years, and it's been a big hit. It's a really big focus at On-Track as well to give these kids real world experience and find what they like. The kids apply for this program, and they have to say where they would want to shadow or watch and are chosen from there. It's a pretty like prestigious thing, you don't just want to sign up just because you want to hang out with dirt bike riders. it's that you want to do this because you might want to work in the industry, or you just want to see what the industry is about.
It started at Loretta’s, and it was such a big hit, but that's only one week. Where with GNCC they have 12 races to apply for and learn at, it's amazing. They have so many ideas to grow it too, it's a really cool opportunity and the On-Track students get credit in their education for it.
When I first heard about it, I was so excited, my head was literally spinning, like the kids that think they want to be a mechanic, but they don't know where to start, can watch these factory teams and learn what they do, or watch the TV crew, track crew, production and media crew, etc. One of the apprentices at Loretta's is actually now on the GNCC RacerTV crew!
So, the kids and parents are always welcome to come find me at the Babbitt’s Kawasaki truck. We're going to start advertising that. I'm that person at GNCC that you can come and chat, ask questions and learn about things like On-Track or the apprenticeship program. Even if it's just a place where OnTrack kids can come hang out and meet each other, I think that would be amazing. I know that there's some kids out there that wonder about On-Track, or their parents probably wonder even more, but just come chat with me and I'll tell you about it. Feel free to reach out to me on my cell: 704-616-7836, or email [email protected].
It's really cool that you're able to mold these worlds together to fit The Strang lifestyle. There are so many facets that you're involved with now. I spoke with a racer's mom a couple of weeks ago and asked them what it meant to be a racer's mom. So, as a racer's wife, what does it mean to be a racer's wife to you?
Honestly, if I describe it in one word, it's pretty special. It's just an opportunity that, of course as you know with Tayla, if Josh wouldn't have made the choice to come to America, none of this would be here for me. They don't have these opportunities in Australia to the extent we do here.
It's pretty special being on this path with him. Now that I've found my way with OnTrack and working with kids, it's just made it even better.
So if I described one word, I would just say special, kind of sounds cheesy. But in so many ways, helping them chase their dreams and accomplish what they set out to do, even if it's not forever, they're making such an impact on this world. For Josh, he changed his number to 17 this year because this was his 17th season as a pro, and that's insane! So special would be the word I use for what it means to me