With pit crew in the truck and enroute (Greg, Leslie, Dad) I show up to the whipping winds of Crackima. Boy, I've gotten spoiled with the nice pits of TCR. I paid my $85 + $60 for crew, but figured I'm going after $1000 and it's a good gamble.
Similar cars here as TCR, but they just seem a bit more tuned for running the long track.....and it is long. The outside edge would just fit on the inside edge of TCR. Given it's an oval and not a tri-oval the straights actually seem just as long. The dirt is actually clay and looks kind of textured, but overall smooth.
I took my car through tech. inspection and they actually did look everything over. No problem on the gas tank and they didn't even really look at my new spreader bar. They seemed more interested in fuel injected vs. carbs and rear vs. front wheel drive.
With all the open space and less staff it just seemed less organized. TJ Milton was sharp looking in his uniform and a ball of energy, but things just were a tad unorganized. Didn't seem the same racer camaraderie....or it could because every other minute you're getting a face full of blowing dust and generally sucked.
But I was here to race.
We drove our cars to the grandstand side of the track and this was my first time to try the track. First impression.......this bitch is ROUGH!. My car would squeak, shake, bang, and boom over the uneven surface. They had just watered the track so I got weirded out when at 30 mph I started sliding towards the wall. What had I gotten myself into?
TJ did our drivers' meeting as he talked into the mic to the crowd. Nice touch. The crowd got to hear the specifics of the driver's meeting......something TCR might think about.
Then we got to do 5 or 10 practice laps and the slippery mud was a trip coming out of turn 4. Mike Riddell was laughing his butt off.
I drew 10th spot on the startup. They put us injected at the front of the pack, but we were assigned a lap down from the rear drive, carbed cars. First turn and all I know it was a giant bowl of dust. A couple cars had brake lights on so I sort of used them as foglights to keep a general sense of where on the track I was. A couple cars passed me in the next couple laps, but I generally just tried to stay with the pack. The front of the pack seemed to stretch away from me as I started to find a rythym and turn up the heat.
By lap 15 I started to really figure things out and started passing cars again. I was actually relaxing a bit since it was an hour long race (3 twenty minute session with 10 minute breaks) and noticed how damn fast I was going. I could see 65 or 67 mph at the end of each straight and was slowing to maybe 45 or 50 in the corners.
Avoiding cars in a four wheel drift is a weird thing. I actually felt like one of those gnarly winged sprint cars on the outside of a blue Daytona. His front wheels biting in grabbing dirt and throwing clods and rocks through my driver window. We had a couple of yellows so I reeled in the leaders again and made better restarts. I chipped away at the remaining leaders and set myself into third place when the white flag flew. One more lap and it was the end of our first 20 minute session. Firmly in third I came to a stop on the backstretch and basically just hung out for 10 minutes.
An even better jump on the next session and the #2 guy bobbled a corner. I cruised on by and set my lasers on the head guy. He bobbled too and I made it by him. I was leading!!!! I led for 7 or 8 laps and even made some ground...which surprised me. I looked down again and saw 70 mph on my speedo as I entered turn 3. I was dirt track racing!!!!!!
Then it was my turn to bobble and I got out of the groove in turn 1. Nearly wadded it up in the wall, but got it straight coming out of turn 2. Figuring I was in second and another session to go I settled a bit and decided to lay back.
But......on one lap I felt the steering go wonky. Damn. I figured I had a tire going down so I slowed a bit. I waited for the white flag and was pleased to see it come out. I figured I was on the lead lap and think it was only me and the front guy...and maybe one or two others. On the backstretch though my car exploded. My left CV shaft went flying out the side and I instantly figured out my control arm came undone. I went from 65 to 0 in about 100 feet on the outer wall.
Game over, I climbed out of the car as the other cars came to a stop. The brake line was ripped off like an artery oozing lifeblood. My car's jugular had been cut. My first DNF. The tow truck hauled my car out and crew helped me drag it backwards up on the trailer. We stayed and watched the last session.
Looking around though I saw only 12 other cars. I'm guessing I scored about 13th.
A trip to Miner's later and I was heading back home having raced well, but about $1
Post Season Cost: $213.00
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