Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Final Day!

We got to the Tire Rack and set up our tent and got a good nights sleep. Dry skid pad, I know nothing about how to drive one and Eric knew slightly more than me. Oh well. He got through it and ended up 5th overall. Then they had a great banquet awards ceremony in the warehouse. Tire Rack is a very fitting name. Rows and rows of racks and racks of tires. Paula would have had a hard time with the new tire smell. Eric got a nice trophy for 5th overall. Then we got a great surprise. They have an award for the fastest rookie! And he had that one locked up. After the banquet we got some good pictures with Chuck and Christie and our cars. Lots of thanks to them for being such nice rivals.

Some great memories. When I was packing up our tent at Motorsports Park Hastings I found a key fob for a Porsche on the grass. The autocross was going on so all the cars were crammed in waiting to make their runs. I pushed the panic button to figure out who's car it was. The horn and lights start going on the Cayenne Turbo. I watched as the driver noticed and ran over to try to shut it off. This is a raffle car so they're just driving it to generate raffle sales, it's not their personal car, so I figured he didn't know all about it. Took him awhile but he got it shut down. There were some media people near me so I told them I had found the fob and watch while I mess with the guy a bit. I waited for him to walk away and then hit the panic button again. More scrambling and he got it stopped. I waited for him to walk away and gave him a third panic. Then after he got it shut off I walked over and said, "hay, every time I push this button your lights and horn start going." He said, "hay, you messing with me?" I said, "yep, sorry I couldn't resist." 75 cars, 150+ people (some cars had three in them). Never met a one of them that wasn't nice. Had some great chats. Saw lots of the country. Brock Yates, Jr., can't say enough good things about him. He put on a world class event. He was very gracious in posing for pictures with us and always very talkative with anybody. Pretty amazing considering how busy he was taking care of everything. And, he set a very very fast pace on the transitions (I wouldn't let Eric run with him for fear of tickets).

And last, but not least, John Boos, . Wow, he and Quinn (his top guy) built an amazing car. They worked long long late hard hours near the end to get the car ready. Everything worked flawlessly. I'm quite sure our car won the "never had anything need anything on the car" competition. Lots and lots of cars were being worked on. Cars were falling by the wayside. Not ours. 3500 miles. Not enough sleep. No good food. Watching my son drive like a pro and go for his dreams. Priceless.

Road America, Wisconsin

We made it to RA about 0630 hrs. I was completely destroyed emotionally and physically. I started talking to Christie Veth, co-driver of the Dodge Viper we were closest to in the standings, and she said how well Eric was doing and I just started crying. It had been quite the week. Eric did really well driving. There was a Viper club event going on so lots of cool track Vipers. I managed to crawl under our trailer with a sleeping bag and take a short nap. This is the last track event. Robert Dubler destroyed his Cadillac CTS-V wagon when his brakes failed going into turn 8. Very sad. He's a genuine nice guy. Glad he wasn't hurt. Another Evo blew up, no more Evo's left. Eric went off again costing him some time so at the end of the day we were tied with Chuck and Christie in their Viper. There went his chances for the 4th overall. The only event left is the dry skid pad at Tire Rack. Leaving Road America I had mixed emotions. Happy to almost be done with this odyssey. Sad that we were almost done. Looking forward to a nice easy 5/6 hour drive to the finish in South Bend, Ind.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Brainerd International Raceway, yay!

So, we made it to BIR at about 0200 hrs. I did most of the driving so Eric could sleep since BIR is the big day for us. We had made arrangements with Tim and Katie Scallen to use their lake cabin to sleep at since it's about 2 miles from the track. Paula, Jeff, and Buck went up earlier in the evening. It was great because they had to call Katie for some directions. Then when we got close we called Paula for guidance in. Quick showers and sleep. To BIR first thing in the morning. We were second ones through the gate. Got a nice spot in the paddock for our Winsor Corvette Hospitality Zone. It was so great having tons of local friends come up to cheer us on. Buck just loves hanging out at the track. Paula had the greatest treats and snacks for everybody. The first event was the Donnybrook full track. Eric has run a few laps on this track, hahahahaahah. He got 2nd overall. His fastest lap was a 1:45.7. Pretty good for street tires. Then we moved over to the new Competition track and he eecked out a 3rd place, went off near the end and mowed some more grass. And overheated again since he clogged up the fresh air intake. There were some tense moments while John Boos worked on it trying to get the new cold coolant to circulate since it blew out a bunch of coolant when it overheated. Got it running and cooled down and then over to the drag strip. He lost some points there because he didn't understand how they were scoring it. Oh well. He's not a drag racer, and the car isn't a drag car. John offered to give the car a look over and change the oil if we stopped at his shop on the way to Road America. It isn't any out of the way for the drive. So, we headed to Zimmerman. I was with Eric, and Paula, Jeff, and Buck were going to follow us to John's so they could hang out while he checked over the car. And we were going to order pizza for dinner. After a bit of driving I realized this was dumb for her to follow us. So I called Jeff and told him we're pulling over and he can ride with Eric and I'll drive the Rav4 with mom. Wow, was it nice to drive a quiet car with air conditioning. And I got to hold hands with Paula and chat! John changed the oil and said everything looked great underneath. It is so amazing how this car has held up considering the abuse we've been giving it. The only time we've had to touch it with a wrench was to remove/install the splitter, and change a tire.

We said our goodbyes to John and his wife Jackie. And I got to drive the Rav with Paula until we got to St. Paul (another hour of holding hands and chatting with Wonder Woman). We got on our way to Road America about 2200 hrs. from St. Paul. It's normally about a 6 hour drive. But, we were both pretty fried from the day. I drove the whole way. About 0200 hrs. I was getting pretty tired so I pulled into the back lot at a gas station to nap for half hour. That was perfect to give me a re-charge. About an hour later I started hitting things. The road was a two laner so I didn't have much room to manuever. Came over a bit of a rise and found a dead racoon right in the middle of my lane. There was a car coming toward me so I couldn't go around it. Loud clunk woke Eric up. He made me pull over so he could look for damage. Yep, no damage but a bunch of blood and fur. Let's go, this is a long night. Not too long before I was forced to drive over some deer remains. Clunk clunk. Eric woke up and I told him what I hit and too bad, I'm not pulling over so you can look. All the guages look fine. Go back to sleep. A bit later, CLUNK. I don't know what I hit, never saw anything. Eric woke up and said, "what did you hit now?" I said, "I dunno, never saw it, go back to sleep." Awhile later there was no signs of any lights so I bumped up to about 14 over the 65 limit. Wouldn't ya know, there was a sheriff sittin' in the ditch. She lights it all up and I slam the brakes. Perfect timing because there is a big ol' deer right in front of me. Eric woke up and said, "wow, good job avoiding that deer." I said, "oh sure, but we're being pulled over." I had a nice visit with a deputy. She told me to slow down. I thanked her for stopping me and asked her if she had seen the deer and she said she had. I thanked her for preventing me from hitting it. I have no idea what county we were in. Oh well. About 0500 I knew we were pretty close to Road America and I was very beat so I pulled in behind a station and took an hour and a half nap. Perfect re-charge. Made it to RA, no tickets, no damage, and Eric got plenty of good rest. I got to ride with my smokin' hot wife for a bit. Life is great.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Motorsports Park Hastings, Hastings, Nebraska

We had a good drive over from Colorado to Nebraska. We had come to Motorsports Park Hastings a couple weeks before the One Lap to give Eric a chance to learn the track. When we came that day the owner, George, was a great guy. Very nice and personable. Since Eric had his number we called him while driving there now and asked if we could possibly get in to pitch our tent near the paddock. He was so nice he texted us the lock codes to get in the gates and we had a nice quiet camping space in the paddock all to ourselves. Perfect camping weather too. The day went just okay. His first run session he went off and gathered up a bunch of the fresh cut alfalfa which completely blocked off his air intake for the radiator. He limped across the line a lap later and promptly overheated and blew steam all over. I saw what I thought was smoke as they had him pulled off the track after turn 1. I raced over on my bike and figured it would be all over now. We wouldn't be able to repair it from a engine fire. The safety crew pulled the car into the paddock and Eric said it had overheated and blew the antifreeze out. Aaahhhh. Much better than a fire. He asked the safety guys if they could pull him to a water source. Wow, pretty good thinking for a dopey kid. They pulled it over to a hose at the way far end of the paddock. I started filling up the overflow tank with water and spraying down the radiator. It took us quite awhile to get water to move through the system but it slowly started to cool down and circulate. He took it out on the road for a little shake down run and said it seems to be okay. Dang, John built a strong motor. The results showed he got 8th for that session. Not bad since he had the off roading. Afternoon session he did much better staying on and got 4th. "NO LAWN MOWING" was my stern order before that run. Then they had a parking lot autocross set up by the local SCCA club. My lands, what a disaster that was. One of the first runs was by a hopped up Mustang. The guy lost control and hit a guardrail and ripped the driver's door off. So they had to shut everything down and nullify all the results up to that point. They laid out a new coarse, not much better. Eric's car is not very good for a tight autocross coarse. While they were running the autocross I was packing up the tent and found a Porsche key fob on the grass. I hit the panic button and the horn and lights started going on the Cayenne Turbo over by the autocross. I watched the guy go try to shut it off. Then I waited 'till he walked away and hit it again. I had a few people watching so we were having fun. I got him a third time before walking over to reveal myself. We all had a good laugh. I told him I figured he must have been napping in my tent when he lost his fob.

We left Motorsports Park Hastings as quick as possible after he ran the autocross. Great. Since this was going to be one of the longest transitions of the week. A bit shy of 600 miles and 11 hours. Did I mention there is no air conditioner in this car? And, it gets very hot inside so we always had to drive with the windows open. Except when it got later at night and cooled down enough outside. I had a set of big ear muffs which worked great for me. Excited to be heading to Brainerd, Eric knows this track pretty well, hahaahahah.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Leaving Mid America headed for Hallett, Oklahoma, and then High Plains Raceway, Colorado

We got out of Mid America late on Sunday afternoon. The beginning days of this event I was very frustrated with Eric's slowness in getting on the road to the next venue. John Boos advised us to get going as fast as possible so we can get to the next location and have the most time to sleep. I think we had the most stuff to pack up and the most work to do to get the car ready for the transitions. We had to remove the large splitter on the front of the car when done and then put it back on at the next track. Each removal/install takes about 1/2 hour. We also planned to sleep/camp at each track to save money and time. But that meant limited showering facilities. The drive from Mid America was to Hallett, Oklahoma, about 400 miles or 8 hours. We made it to Hallett about 2300 hrs. and drove right to the track. We parked the car off the road and left the nose up on the pavement so we could install the splitter. Got to climb into the tent about midnight. Slept 'till about 0600 when the track people showed up. It was good. Very warm down there but not too hot. Eric had never seen the track so he rode the mountain bike a couple laps and made some notes. He drove very good and kept it in control. We had a great paddock location under a nice shelter so we could stay cool. We shared our shelter with team number 47, David Chow and Nathan Sumner. They were very nice guys. We did better in getting on the road to High Plains but still were nearly the last car to leave Hallett. I was very stressed about this because the drive to High Plains Raceway, Byers, CO, is about 620 miles, about 10 hours. Before leaving Hallett I noticed a small cut in the sidewall of the left rear tire. Guessing we must have knicked something sharp on the road somewhere along the way. Eric wanted to swap it out for our spare. So, we headed north toward the next venue and I got busy on the computer looking for a tire shop that could do the job. Found a Firestone shop in Wichita that said they could do it and get us going quick. They were close to the freeway too so not extra driving. We got there about 1800 hrs. and the guys were great. I ran down the street and picked up a couple Subways while they changed the tire. We made it to High Plains about 0200 hrs. I had driven the anchor leg so Eric was asleep in the passenger seat. It was a clear sky and no rain on my phone weather app predicted. I decided to save time and just put a tarp down and then the sleeping bags. Eric wouldn't wake up and said he wanted to sleep in the car. I slept great as long as I kept myself completely inside the bag. It got down to 37 degrees. When I woke up at 0600 there was car number 6 parked behind us, with all three of them sleeping in the car. When they woke up they told me they got in at 0400 because they had turbo problems and had to work long on it to get it fixed. Eric unfolded himself out of the car and said he was frozen. I told him I tried to wake him and would have gladly gotten his sleeping bag rolled out. He didn't remember anything from that conversation. While I had been driving I found a gas station when we were about 50 miles away. So, I pulled in and woke Eric up and told him to figure out how much gas we need to end up at the track with a bit over half tank. That would give us the right amount for his first run and then we could top it up with gas from the cans. He looked at the gas guage and said, "just put in 12 gallons." I told him I thought that might be too much. He kept saying "just put in 12 gallons." Well, I don't know how his guage reads so figured I better just follow his orders. We ended up with almost a full tank at the track. When I told him about that he said he didn't remember anything about the 12 gallons thing. We got a great paddock spot since we were the first ones through the gate. And the greatest part about this track is that it's close enough to Denver that niece Stephanie came over to hang out with us. And Mike Craven, fellow HDT camper guy and good friend, came over too. They had track touring during the lunch break so I ran a lap with Mike in Eric's car. We didn't get to go very fast but he got to feel how it pulls a bit and how cramped and uncomfortable it is for a long road trip. Steph followed us in her R32 VW. After leaving the track we learned we could do more laps for a bit so I drove Steph in her R32. We got it moving pretty good and she said it was great fun.

We got going not fast enough again heading to Hastings, Nebraska, Motorsports Park Hastings. About 400 miles, a bit over 6 hours.

Well, Eric and I took part in the 2012 One Lap of America car race. I won't take up space explaining the event since anybody can go to to see about it. I think I should try to create a blog post to help me remember and preserve the experience. We had some nervous days leading up to it since the transmission broke on Tuesday and we were hoping to leave on Thursday (May 3). John Boos, , worked amazingly fast pulling the trans and tearing it apart to find the broken output shaft. RPM had machined the shaft in a not acceptable way which caused a weak point that broke. They overnighted a shaft that didn't have the weak point. But, that required John to fabricate another part to make it work. During this they also replaced the entire steering rack and pump and upgraded the pump pulley to a stronger type. And they rebuilt the front brakes. We were at the shop finishing it up at about midnight Thursday. I think we left John's shop about 0100 hrs. on Friday. We drove home and hooked up the trailer and finished loading it and the car.

We started driving about 0300 hrs. Getting on the highway Eric decided we had overloaded everything and needed to lighten the load. I had tried to get him not to load so much junk on but he wouldn't listen to me. We went to the Blumel's house in Woodbury since it was on the way to Indiana. We unloaded everything not deemed essential. Mac came out about 0500 hrs. and helped us put everything on their back porch for later p/u. We got on the road and made it to Hudson, Wisc., about 0600 hrs. We were supposed to be in Indiana at 1500 hrs. for the driver's meeting. We made it by 1530 hrs.

We got a room at the host hotel and Eric spent all his time in the parking lot putting all the stickers on the car. I unloaded most of the trailer since we couldn't lock anything and I didn't want to leave all our tools and such on it for the night. Very tired and we hadn't even started yet.

Saturday, May 5th, first day of competition. Wet skid pad, then over to a 1/4 mile banked oval. The skid went okay. He did about as expected. The oval was a shocker. He got 4th place out of 75 entries! Wow, I couldn't believe it. Caitlin's (Eric's girlfriend Caitlin Nosanov) parents had come over from Michigan to support us. They were great and got some super pictures. Then we loaded back up and drove to Joliet, IL, for the road course. Good think Mike and Kim followed us because they raced up next to us on the highway and waved us to stop. I guess I was still learning how to tie things on the trailer. One of the spare tires, a Michilin PS2, 335/30/18, had gotten loose and fell off the trailer and was dragging along behind us. I had also tied a 5 gallon gas can inside said tire. The gas can was dragging and rubbed through the side so it was leaking gas out. We also had lost a rubber wheel chock that I had tucked inside the tire. Eric took off running down the highway looking for the chock. Most excersise he's gotten in years. And he never found the $5 chock. Oh well. Fortunately we got everything tied on better and got on the road before the highway patrol showed up. Eric did great at Autobahn. We said our goodbye's to Kim and Mike. And headed on our way to Mid America, Council Bluffs, Iowa. Long drive (as usual). Paula and Caitlin were driving there and getting a room nearby so we met them at the motel. We got in about 0200 hrs. They had brought us another tire so we could switch that for the one we destroyed dragging on the highway. A few hours sleep and on to Mid America for Sunday.

Eric drove very well the morning session. Then the afternoon session he didn't. Drove off on a turn and had to go through swampy grass and get back on road. At least he managed to keep it rolling and not need a tow.

Gotta run for now, more to come.