Taking Baby for a Drive
He called it his "Baby P," a 1999 black Volkswagen Passat. It was kept in a garage in West Haven, Conn., and brought out only when the weather was fine – or when it was time for Richard Gabrielle's racing lessons.
Mr. Gabrielle's wife, Monica, who was not allowed to drive the Passat, said she had little doubt that her husband's fairly recent passion for driving a souped-up little car around a racetrack at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., was the result of a midlife crisis.
Mr. Gabrielle, a 50-year-old insurance broker at the Aon Corporation, was an extraordinarily gentle man in most ways. Even moths, when they got in the house, would be carefully ushered out, uninjured. But he would also never tell his wife how fast he went during his driving lessons, and he recently bought a radar detector, so that he could, as he put it, "practice" on the highways.
"He'd tell me, 'Better that than women, don't you think?'" she said.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 14, 2001.