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.