Christie Bagne’s motorsports journey is only just beginning, but she’s accomplished a lot in very little time.
Catching up with Christie Bagne isn’t easy. She’s constantly on the move, dashing from one place to another, barely having time to breathe. But when I finally locked her down, I found that she thinks nothing of her crazy scheduling. “It’s been a tiring month,” she admits as we chatted on the phone while she drove home from a busy day at work – this being our third conversation of the day, the first two being cut short when something arose on her side. “It’s been a tiring life, actually,” she laughs, “but this is all a very Christie-Scheduling activity, so it doesn’t feel that bad.”
“Christie Scheduling” largely refers to her two hobbies, horses and cars, both of which consume copious amounts of her time. Over the years she’s done everything from amateur horse training and horse jumping competitions to ice racing, autocross, track events, and now road racing. When I spoke to her, the previous few weeks had involved obtaining her SCCA Road Racing novice permit and completing her first two race weekends.
Then there’s work. Christie’s currently navigating her way through her first few years as a TRACK engineer at General Motors; this coming after a two-year stint at Kettering University that involved alternating between engineering classes and a work program at Ford. Then there’s the fact that Kettering was her second time through higher education, her first concluding with a neuroscience degree.
I was exhausted listening to what she’s been through in the last few years. But, taking a breath, I asked her to start at the beginning.
“Living in Detroit, there’s pretty much a car event every weekend,” Christie explains of her high school days in the late 2000s. “We would basically go out, stand in a parking lot, talk about cars for a few hours, and then we’d get kicked out for loitering and we’d go to someone’s garage until 3 a.m., at which point we’d disconnect our mufflers and things like that.
“I lacked sophistication at the time,” she laughs while looking back at her high school years, “but it was a good way to start tinkering on cars and learning basic maintenance.”
Christie’s automotive appreciation was undoubtedly a combination of living in Motor City and having a mother and grandmother who were enthusiasts, both owning older Camaros. But when she went to college – the first time, earning a neuroscience degree – Christie was suddenly thrust into a world that lacked cars. “That’s when I started a car club,” she explains. “There are a bunch of engineers in the [Detroit] area and the automotive industry is huge there, so it was a big market for a good car club.”
Many associated with Christie’s club were into autocrossing, but then a new guy, fresh from Utah, approached her with a question. “He came to me and said, ‘Hey, are there any racetracks around here?’ That’s when I found Waterford Hills…and we decided to go to a track day.”
Absent a track-worthy car herself, she took her mother’s sporty sedan to Waterford. “After that track day, I learned how to do my first brake job,” she chuckles.
Hooked, she bought a Subaru and jumped in full bore, logging about 10 track events that year at either Waterford Hills or Gingerman, including one of the first SCCA Track Night in America events.
“Then winter came, and I started ice racing,” she says of the colder months of 2014. “Saginaw Valley Region of the SCCA does ice racing in Michigan…and I had never ice raced before,” she says. “That was a totally new experience and it helped me a lot with car control.”
Despite being outgoing and seemingly willing to jump into any situation, Christie still found racing on ice intimidating. “I’d never driven around on a lake before, and I was pretty bad at the beginning – but I got pretty good by the end,” she recalls, noting that playing on the ice helped her on dry pavement, too. “That was the thing with ice racing – you have to figure out where there is traction and where there isn’t, and that translated over to dry pavement.”