By Girls N' Garages Magazine
Imagine yourself hitting the lowest of the low but in the end overcoming it all and pursuing a happy and healthy life because of............ cars? Rachel Turtz did. She is an amazing women who battled addiction but due to an unignorable passion for drifting was able to pull herself out of a crippling addiction and now has a successful career at Mishimoto Automotive…and a pink drift car!
What are your interests within the automotive industry?
Drifting. Why? Because it’s awesome. There is nothing about it that isn’t fun. It’s a community and a family, no matter where you are in the world. This is also why I drift.
When did you first get into drifting?
I’ve always been into cars. In 2012 I was sexually abused at gunpoint in Camden, NJ. I was a heroin addict. Needless to say, things had to change. I sold my Jeep to my now fiancé. When we first started dating, I was a bit of a mess, early in recovery and a single mom. He took me to a Club Loose event, East Coast Bash in particular. It was awesome. It immediately became my outlet. My new addiction. Everyone there seemed like a family. It was a reckless party full of sweaty dudes that would get in their cars and just drift for fun. I wanted that. I bought a 240sx and drove down to 100 Drifters of December one year. I took my stock KA, open differential 240sx around the skid pad. As stupid as it was going around in a circle, I loved it. From there, I started driving every Club Loose event I possibly could. I wanted to learn and I wanted it bad.
How did you become addicted to heroin?
That’s hard to say. By my sophomore year in high school I thought I had the whole world figured out. I was in advanced classes and wanted to go to college for biomedical engineering. Problem was, I didn’t really have friends. Like most teenage girls, I wanted to be a “cool kid”. So, I dropped down to easier classes and started making friends with people I had no business getting involved with. I started dating someone (my child’s father) who was a heavy drug user and when we went to parties, I didn’t want to feel left out. So I started using. Like most addiction stories, it started out recreational and there was nothing I wouldn’t try. The first time I tried Percocet, I was hooked. By the beginning of my junior year, I was an addict. I made it to county college but dropped out because I couldn’t go to class if I wasn’t high. Fast forward 3 years and my family wanted nothing to do with me, I was homeless, miserable and I wanted to stop, but couldn’t. I tried to get clean but kept relapsing. Then, I got pregnant. I thought it was going to save my life. I was wrong. I had a happy pregnancy, felt like my family wanted me in their lives again and I was doing really good. But, as soon as I got out of the hospital and got home I went through post-partum depression. It was awful. I panicked and all I wanted to do was use. And I did. However, my drug of choice, Percocet, was not available and heroin was. So I tried it and needless to say, my addiction started all over again and escalated beyond my control.
Was it hard to come clean?
Hard doesn’t even describe it. After my episode in Camden, NJ DYFS got involved. They threatened to kick me out of my house, take my son away and leave me out on the streets unless I got my act together. Well, that was it for me. Trying to get clean while having a baby to take care of was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I barely slept, had night terrors, the shakes, restless legs, I couldn’t eat, I thought my body was shutting down. But, when my son got up in the middle of the night, I had to muscle up any energy I had left to feed him, change him, etc. It was like a bad dream. However, one day, after about 2 weeks, I woke up and felt amazing. It came out of nowhere. I went to meetings, rode my bike (since my license was taken away from me), found a job, and started to become a “normal” person again.
How soon after you realized that you needed to change did you find drifting to be your outlet?
It took some time. My first day drug-free was February 23rd and my first Club Loose event was the end of May.
Did you think you would enjoy going to the Club Loose event that helped you realize drifting was your outlet?
I had NO IDEA what to expect showing up to Club Loose. It felt awkward at first. Trying to socialize in general was still hard. But these people acted like a family and were so welcoming. They weren’t getting wasted to have fun, they were drifting. It was so foreign to me. I didn’t know how to have fun without drugs and that’s what Club Loose showed me.
Would you say your road to recovery was hard?
Absolutely. But standing here today, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m a better person, a better mom, and I’m happy. If I didn’t go through what I did, I would not be who I am today.
What would you like readers to know?
I want readers to know about addiction. It takes the lives of so many people every year and I’m proud to be someone that is still here. Drifting saved my life. I’m always reachable and anyone that wants help can always contact me. I’m a young mom, I drift, and I work for Mishimoto. I mean, you can’t get better than that. Life is good.
What would be your tip for women getting into the automotive industry/racing? What would you like to see in regards to women's involvement in the industry?
Don’t let the big boys get you down. Men and women will look down on you and think you can’t do it at times. Prove them wrong. I painted my 240sx hot pink just to make a point. Like, hey, I’m a girl but I can still drift. ;)
While Rachel’s road may not have been without rough patches, and seemingly having the odds put against her, she has risen above all of that. With her involvement with Mishimoto and being active within the drifting community this lady is making an impact on everyone who she tells her story to.
This article has been brought to you by Girls N' Garages Magazine on behalf of The International Women's Automotive Society.
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