Or as a buddy calls it “The Dong Course.” Look it up, once you see it…
From a statistical standpoint, our showing was dismal. The car, a 1994 Neon ACR ran great for practice on Friday on old tires. No issues and the team held high hopes for a podium on Saturday.
Despite those hopes, the car’s owner still elected to have me take the green flag Saturday morning. I don’t think he thought it through. A few laps into the race this came over the radio;
“Mental, have you ever driven this track?”
“Nope. Only Thunder.”
I could actually hear the regret in the non-transmission that followed. The owner is a good guy, but I couldn’t resist…
“Look man, I have never driven this car, or this course and I got a full 2 1/2 hours of sleep last night, what could possibly go wrong?”
It did not have the tension breaking effect I had hoped for. But he left me in. Despite a 1st lap snafu where I broke the throttle cable, once I settled in, I turned not-to-terrible laps and began to chip away at the deficit our early pit stop caused. The joy of racing is that someone is always slower.
With no chance of a podium, we conducted some fuel conservation experiments and for 90 minutes I had a great time.
The next driver, in their first wheel to wheel race, did not have the same joy. After a few off-track excursions, the Neon returned with a clutch problem. This was not related to the offs but was a known problem rearing its ugly head at a bad time.
We gave up on the day, fixed the car, put on new brake rotors and even snuck in a few shakedown laps before the checker.
Sunday, one of the team principals lobbied hard for a reclass and we were rightfully moved down into GP-1, where we could be more competitive.
One green flag lap and one of the two hot shoes radioed;
“Temp is in the red. I am coming in.”
The car pulled in, I jumped the wall and popped the hood. Clearly, the coolant had vacated the system, it was all over the hood and the block. But a visual inspection revealed no busted hoses, a solid radiator, and overflow. We pulled it to the paddock.
No coolant in the system, but we couldn’t diagnose why. So the team decided to put it on the trailer on live to fight another day.
Out total laps for the race weekend, over 4 drivers didn’t even break 100. By every measure, a failure.
But here I sit, on a crowded SW flight with a connection through Orlando and another 2-hour drive back to Alabama. I will get in sometime after midnight and early tomorrow I am back in class.
I should be exhausted, and I am.
I should be disappointed, depressed and angry. But I am still grinning like an idiot.
It’s not just meeting up with a couple of good friends, and making a few more. It’s not just seeing old acquaintances and it’s certainly not pushing a non-running race car around a blistering hot paddock.
Although I have to admit, that’s part of it.
Nope. It’s the racing.
I was once told the reason I hate golf is because I am not good at it. I think the reason I am not good is that I hate it. Racing, on the other hand, I love and I am not very good.
However, I am not that bad.
Despite the absurd travel, the expense, the frustration, and failure, I was the young puppy of the team. Running around, making to much noise, over stimulated and tail always wagging. I know I anointed my teammates, but I felt like they let it slide because I have no ill will. I will lift anything, move anything and help everywhere I can because…
…because damn I love to race.
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Well either I am still a child, or racing is not a childish thing. In either case, I don’t care. Somewhat troubling is the definition of addiction;
“a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble)”
I don’t think it’s harmful. In fact, I know I am happier for having done it. I am healthier and I have learned a few things. My wife likes me better after a race. I like me better.
While it’s not quite an addiction, it is something I will sacrifice a great many things in order to do.
Maybe my issue isn’t the racing, it’s the limited opportunities. Or the cost. Or the travel.
I have 2 more events I can make this year. I am already making schedule changes to make them. At least one of them, I will travel all night.
That doesn’t bother me.
Like at all…
… so I might have a problem