NASA Mid-Atlantic and Southeast Spec3 racer Andy Schmidt picked up an unusual hitchhiker on his way to competition school at Virginia International Raceway last August.
On the way to the track, he found a small, sickly dog on a country road in North Carolina. After not being able to find any clue who the owner was, he decided to bring the dog to the track with him. This dog was well behaved and right at home in the paddock all weekend. They first got her attention with a piece of old pizza crust Schmidt’s brother inexplicably had in the pocket of his shorts.
“On the way to the event, right before it was about to rain, too, we saw a dog just lying on side of the road, so we stopped and got out and she had clearly not been fed for a long time. I think she was like 20 pounds at the time. I mean, just skin and bones,” Schmidt said. “She was missing half her fur and had a rash all over her body. And she was crawling with all sorts of fleas and ticks and she had worms and, and everything, and she smelled horrible, too. But we picked her up and because we were at a track day, we had nowhere else to go. It was a weekend. It was a Sunday on top of that. So we drove her to VIR and she turned out to just be like this absolutely human friendly dog, like the most friendly dog I’ve ever met.”
She stayed put and was a good girl while Andy passed comp school and had a successful weekend battling the rest of the field — and turning some great lap times, according to Taylor Johnson. After the weekend was over, Schmidt and the dog returned home. Schmidt named the dog “Koni” after the manufacturer of the Spec3 required shock absorbers. Schmidt already had a couple of dogs, so he took Koni to a local vet in the Charlotte area where she received treatment for her various ailments, and the veterinarian ended up adopting Koni as her own pet.
There was no microchip and Schmidt said the vet indicated the dog showed signs she had been used for breeding. Her teeth were worn from chewing on a cage where she spent a good portion of her time. But Koni turned out to be a real sweetheart, and Schmidt even looks after her every time the vet needs a dog sitter.
Some six months later, at Carolina Motorsports Park, Koni and her new owners came to visit, and she even posed for some cute photos to show that she’s back up to 50 pounds and in good health now.
Koni is now an honorary member of the NASA family.