Jamie Lessie’s favorite shirt reads, “I drive faster than boys.” And it’s true. She does, at least faster than many of them. But Jamie, 17, isn’t the speeding-ticket kind. Her kind of fast driving is totally legal, and her family supports her 100 percent. Jamie drag races on a professionally supervised closed track.
Racing isn’t the only thing Jamie’s family supports her in. Her dad, Larry, her mom, Kelli, and her brother, Jake, 13, do just about everything together. Besides family vacations and just having fun around their home playing games, the Lessie family, of the Del Mar Ward, Del Mar California Stake, loves to serve together in their community. Jamie’s and Jake’s parents help them as they fulfill their Personal Progress, Duty to God, and Scouting requirements. Brother Lessie is Jake’s Scoutmaster; he’s also an assistant coach for Jake’s baseball team. The bottom line is, this family loves to be together.
“We get along on so many levels, and we trust each other,” says Jamie. “I get along really well with my dad.” She says her parents are her best friends.
Both Jamie and Jake say the secret to getting along with each other and their parents so well is just spending time together and supporting one another. “I think it’s awesome how we take vacations and do stuff together,” says Jake. When Jake goes surfing or has a baseball game, his family goes to watch. If Jamie has a race, her family shows up to cheer her on.
Jamie and her dad have grown especially close because they share an enthusiasm for cars and driving. Brother Lessie and his father, Jamie’s grandfather, built the 1965 Shelby Cobra replica that Jamie races. Jamie works on the car with her dad now. “I like fixing up any car with him. I like working with cars, and I like being with him.”
Before Jamie could drive, she loved it when her dad would let her sit in the passenger seat while he raced on the same track she races on now. As soon as she turned 15, though, she was ready to drive herself. She still had to have an adult in the car with her, but she was legally old enough to race. And she was a sensation.
When you combine Jamie’s amazingly fast response time, her driving skill, and a lightweight car, she is almost unbeatable on the one-eighth-of-a-mile straight track at QualComm Stadium in San Diego. Sometimes she has a hard time finding people to race her when she attends the drag meets because there are some people who find it hard to be beaten by a 17-year-old girl. Even though there are more than 100 drivers at the stadium, the announcers know Jamie well and are used to announcing her winning times.
Her brother, Jake, is not old enough to drive yet, but both he and his mom know a lot about cars. “It’s amazing how much I’ve learned about cars hanging around with those two,” says Jamie’s mom. She even races Jamie on the drag track sometimes. It’s a fun mother-daughter activity, even though Sister Lessie never wins.
Jamie’s parents know racing can be risky, but they also know Jamie. “My parents know I act responsibly when I race,” Jamie says. “They’re really good about it. They’re really supportive.”
Drag racing can be dangerous, especially if it’s done illegally, but Jamie does it in the safest way possible. She goes to a legal course where all the drivers have to register, the cars all have to meet certain standards, and the track is relatively short, so she never gets to the high speeds that other racers reach on longer tracks. She always wears a helmet, except when she takes it off between races to make sure her hair still looks good.
Racing is only one of Jamie’s interests. She’s taking many business courses in high school and hoping to study business in college when she graduates. She is also a master scrapbooker. Her favorite is scrapbooking the photos she and her family take when they are together.
Maybe the Lessie family has just been blessed with the gift of getting along together, but they think there’s a lot more to their relationship than that. They work really hard at being a good family and at spending time together. “It takes quantity and quality time to have a great family relationship,” says Brother Lessie. The family spends as much time together as possible doing good things, like having family home evening, family scripture study, serving, and supporting each other in activities.
Jamie has learned how to love and get along with her parents and has great advice for others on how they can try to do that too: “Find something you both can relate to. Just spend time with them and get to know them better. You’ll be surprised. Find out about them when they were your age.”
When Jamie asks her dad about when he was her age, she finds out a lot of things. “He’s a prankster, just like I am,” she says. She also says, “He’s a great example.”
When her front tires are on the starting line and Jamie sees those racing lights go yellow, yellow, yellow, green, just as she takes off, she always knows she is on the right track—not just with racing, but with her family. She is grateful for their examples, for their support, and most of all for their love.
Put Family First
“Choose your priorities. Let your family come first. Hold worthwhile family home evenings. Let the time that you spend with your families be consistent with how important they are. Cherish and nurture family members and never allow busy schedules and frustrations to drive a wedge between you and your loved ones.” —Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Three Choices,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 81.