Monday, September 12, 2011

8.24.11 Day 64 Up close and personal.

My phone had died last night so there was no alarm clock to wake me, but I didn’t need it. The anticipation of seeing Mt. Rainier was enough to stir me at an early hour. I unzipped the door, gazed out and just starting laughing, hysterically. I’m not sure if there is a word fitting to my reaction to seeing Mt. Rainier so close. There is no better way to view this peak. Pictures and descriptions would never do it justice. Its something that one would have to see for themselves. But you would need Clint to take you there.

Clint is already up and sitting in the chair facing the mountain. I crawl out and sit beside him for a few minutes. Just wow. He is probably just laughing at me now but I just cant believe my eyes. This is too intense for first thing in the morning. I just turn away, shaking my head and laughing. Purely amazing sight to behold.

I break down the tent and we start making our way off the mountain. Clint shows me another spot where Mt Baker and Mt. St. Helen can be seen. On the way out, I see all the intense roads and cliffs we traveled through at midnight to get there. Yeah, Im glad I couldn’t see it last night. Its not any better today though. On the way down, we stop before one of the big drops and take a look down. Yikes….Lets not linger for too long. At another stop, Clint shows me a rock that has a perfect fossil of a leaf. Too cool. We stop at a few more places and look at some other cool stuff before we finally make our way down the mountain.

We missed dinner last night so we decide to have a good breakfast before we take off to Canada. I order my usual omelet and Clint orders a breakfast of ham. The waitress asks if he wants to upgrade to the bigger size for a dollar and he agrees to it. When it comes out, we both immediately start laughing at the enormity of the piece of ham. It needed its own plate and it still hung off all the edges. He’s going to have to work at finishing that one. I wish I had a camera on me or my phone had battery life because it deserved to have its picture taken. Clint manages to finish the whole thing minus a small piece that I tried. He’s going to be feeling that one later.

Back at Clint’s house, I load up the bike and get geared up. Clint, however, is still packing. He disappears into the house for a while and I just sit around, bored and anxious to get on the road. We are a day and half behind now. I am now counting the time we need to make up if I want to stay on my schedule. I know the schedule means nothing to Clint, but its something that Ive come to live by. He gives me some warm socks, a fleece and a full coverage rainfly for my tent and Im really appreciative. I know I’ll need it in the coming weeks. I didn’t really feel prepared to tackle Alaska in September but I was just going to deal with it the best I could. Now I feel better about it.

Finally, at 2pm, Clint was ready to go. He wanted to go by Cycle Gear to buy a new tank bag so we go by there and pick it up. As he is packing his new tank bag, he realizes he cant find his registration and the address to the insurance company where he needed up pick up proof of insurance. We rummage through his things but find neither one. We had to go back to his house a half hour away, with no traffic. Of course, there is traffic. He finds his registration and we are back on the road again. We jump on the highways to get out of town as fast as possible. There is a lot of traffic on the way north and the bank where we need to pick up Clints proof of insurance closes at 5 and there is no way we will make it now. He calls ahead and has them leave it outside for him.. We get almost to Bellingham where the bank is, pick up the piece of paper he needs then sit down to decide our next step. Its getting late now and we still had a border crossing to contend with. It could be easy, or it could take hours, then we had to find a campsite. Just across the border is Vancouver so chances are that we need to get a ways past it to find a campground. We decide to just make it a short day and camp in Washington tonight somewhere on the way up. We go next door to a grocery store and buy some dinner to cook and start heading towards Larrabee State Park that is recommended by Clint’s friend. We are not too far away and are riding down the coast now into some fairly nice views. The park sits right on the coast but is between train tracks and the road. We ride around looking for a suitable campsite and until finally deciding that they are all pretty much the same. As we unpacked, we hear cars, Harleys, trains and planes going by. So much for peace and quiet. We decide to head down to the beach and are rewarded with a gorgeous sunset of bright red and orange hues. Okay, so not the best campground, but the sunset made it worthwhile.

Back at the campsite, we start cooking dinner. We boil up the sausages and snack on the hummus with wheat thins. I break out the garlic bagel crisps and snack on those as well as a bag of nacho cheese Doritos. I start dipping everything into the hummus and find out that I like nacho cheese Doritos in hummus. Then the sausages are done and I have them in tortillas, with hummus and Doritos. Haha. I was ready for bed after dinner. Third corner of my trip tomorrow, border crossing, Vancouver and then I didn’t really know what to expect beyond that.

8.23.11 Day 63 Just when I thought the day was a wash…..

Early morning to finish working on the bikes and get on the road. We work on finding a way to get Clint’s KLR up in the air to remove his tires. After several attempts, we get it onto a milk crate and stable enough to work on. Now my bike. Ive had the bike in the air before in Indianapolis without the proper race stands so I have a good idea what I need to do. The swingarm spools went up on jackstands and I got a jack underneath the front and got the bike stable. I pulled the rear axle out of the wheel and was sliding the chain off the sprockets when I see the bike starting to tip over. I dropped everything in my hand and grabbed the bike. But it was too late and too heavy. The bike fell over with an astounding thud leaving me standing there in total disbelief. What just happened. I immediately try to lift the bike up as fuel was pouring out but I couldn’t get on the right side of it to lever it up. Clint comes over and moves stuff out of the way and pushes while I pull. A jackstand is stuck underneath the swingarm so I had to lift up the back and pull the stand over before the bike will go upright. We get the bike upright and then I remembered the rear wheel has the axle out of it. I jack the back of the bike up and get the wheel off and examine the rear brake caliper and bracket. The rotor and spacers are chewed up but not in the important areas. After the back was supported, I checked out the front and there was some pretty good damage. The nose has several large cracks, the headlight housing stay was broken and the tabs and pins holding the side fairings and ram air ducts were broken off. Everything was hanging loosely. This is going to be expensive to fix. New nose, new headlight assembly, new ram air ducts…..I made sure there was no further major damage to the bike and continued working on the getting it back up in the air to pull of the wheels. Nothing I can do about it now but to just suck it up and keep working. Clint has a friend just down the street who has a workshop. Ted is a former AMA racer, well seasoned mechanic and is taking care of a couple of racecars so at least I have a place to disassemble the bike and fab up some mounts and things to hopefully hold the bike together for the remainder of the trip.

We get the tires off both bikes and loaded into Clints truck. Head down to Cycle Gear to drop them off and meet his brother for lunch. I cant remember the name of the restaurant now but I had the best sandwich I’ve had in years. After lunch, we go back to Cycle Gear and they are still working on the tires. This is taking forever. I guess we are not leaving today. This will put us a full day behind now. After a long wait, we finally get our wheels back and they charged me $70 to change the tires! Unbelievable! Normally its only $20 a wheel, I argued and complained about the price but they told me it’s a Cycle Gear standard. Not so, Ive paid $20 at Cycle Gears several times. Whatever, I complained some more to be sure they were aware of my extreme dissatisfactions with their slow service and high prices then we left. The wheels and tires went on easily and now its time to disassemble the bike again to cobble it back together. We ride over to Ted’s place and I start the long arduous process of removing all the fairings and the headlight housing. Its worse than I think and there are a lot of things I wont be able to repair correctly. This is where the plastic epoxy and duct tape comes in. Im still angry at the fact that Ive been riding for so long and have come so far to only have the bike fall over on stands. If it wasn’t for the jack that the bike fell on, it might not have been so bad. But that’s just what ifs…..

While working on the bike, I talk to Ted about his racing career and found out a lot of extremely interesting things. I’ll have to look up the dates and everything again, but I remember years ago watching a documentary of a aircraft carrier that was on fire and experienced several explosions. There was a massive fire on deck and missiles and bombs mounted to planes on the deck were going off after being enveloped in flames. I vividly remember watching the people on film pushing planes off the deck hoping to stop the string of explosions. The video plainly shows the concussions as the bombs were going off. It was an insane ordeal. It turns out, Ted was there. He was in a helicopter and when one of the planes exploded, a piece of a turbine flew just past his head and lodged itself into his craft just inches above him. He showed me the piece of the turbine. Here I am, standing in someone’s workshop in Puyallup, Washington, full of self pity because my motorcycle fell off the stands and I was piecing it back together the day, no night before leaving for Alaska which is a big enough trip in its own right, holding a amazing piece of history and staring at the man that it almost killed. Wow, I didn’t even know what to say. All of a sudden, my problems meant absolutely nothing. I’ll never forget holding that piece of turbine in my hand….

Feeling painfully simple and self centered, I continue working on the bike and make a few brackets to hold together the headlight housing and a spacer to zip tie through to hold the ram air ducts onto the side fairing and nose. Then I slather some parts in epoxy and duct tape together the rest. Its pretty bad off but it seems to be somewhat sturdy. Hopefully it lasts the rest of the trip. The Alaskan Highway is a rough ride so Im expecting another side of road repair at some point. Its almost 11pm before I finish cobbling the bike together. I thank Ted profusely for letting me use his workshop and Clint and I head out. No way we are leaving today so we decide to go camping. Probably not the best idea at this point but Clint says he has an awesome spot near Mt. Rainier only an hour away. A trip to the store to buy some water and a 6 pack of Alaskan Amber Ale and we were on the way, in the dark.

Heading out of town, it quickly turns into country roads. Then we head into the national forest near Mt. Rainier and onto a forest service road. At first, its just a dirt and gravel road. Then it gets pretty gnarly after a few turnoffs. Im glad Clint has been here dozens of time before because I cant see where we are going. We are driving through bushes and trees and the road isn’t even visible from where I’m sitting. The road is full of massive holes and rain bars. The truck bounces around the pot holes and when going through the rain bars, all I see is the ground, then sky. Ground then sky. At a few points, just a foot or two to my right, is a cliff. A cliff into darkness and no trees to stop the truck should we go sliding then rolling off the edge. Im glad its dark and I cant really see whats going on because Im pretty sure it would have freaked me out. There were a few times I had an unnerving feelings welling up deep within my stomach and I had visions of us tumbling down the side of the mountain, lost for days, weeks before anyone found us. Ive done some crazy things, but this is up there. Its just a new kind of experience. After miles of intense(at least for me) four wheeling we get to the summit and Clint’s campsite.
Getting out, I look up at the stars. “Holy Shit! I have never in my life seen so many stars.”

“Just wait until your eyes adjust.”

A few minutes later. “Holy Shit! There are even more stars!”

Shooting stars pass by constantly leaving long colorful streaks in the dark sky dotted with hundreds, no thousands of stars. The dust of the Milky Way galaxy shines as bright as a star normally viewed from places Ive been. Satellites and planes go idly by while I strain my neck to keep staring. It takes a few minutes for me to realize how cold I am. Before we left, I asked Clint if it would be cold and he comments that I should bring a sweater. I grabbed a sweatshirt just before we left. I threw it on realizing that it wouldn’t be enough. I look at Clint and he’s putting on a thick down jacket. “What the hell?”

“Oh,that’s all you brought? I said bring a sweater.”

“This is a sweater! I didn’t know you meant a down jacket or something.”

“Sorry, I guess Im used to people who are used to camping in cold weather.”

“Yeah dude, Im from Atlanta, there’s no such thing as cold.”

We get a big fire going and I warm up. My neck is already hurting from staring up at the stars. Just amazing. Clint points out Mt. Rainier just the next ridge over. I didn’t even realize that was there, but looking at it now, how did I miss it? Even at night, its so prominent. You can see the darkness of the mountain and the brightness of the snow on top.

“Just wait until you see it in the morning.”

I set up my tent just behind the fire and face the door to Mt. Rainier so I could peak out first thing in the morning at it. We have a couple of beers then call it a night. I use my sleeping bag liner for the first time and Im so very happy I bought one. I went to bed thinking about the day and how terrible it started and how magnificently it ended. It’s hard to believe it all happened in the same day. I shut my eyes and the stars are emblazoned onto the back of my eyelids. Im excited to see Mt. Rainier up close in the morning, but I had no idea what I was in for.

PS. Heres the Wiki article on the USS Forrestal.

8.22.11 Day 62 Clint vs. Tengai

8.22.11 Day 62 Clint vs. Tengai

Lots of things to be done today. I needed to mount new tires, change the oil, clean and lube the chain, change spark plugs and change the air filter. Of course, I got a late start. The plan is to do the work at my friend Clint’s place. Clint joined me for a few days in the southeast riding through the Tail of the Dragon and through Kentucky. Now that the racing season is over for him, he returned home to Puyallup, Washington and was planning on joining me on the trip to Alaska. At a gas station near my destination, I pulled over to refuel and find the address to Gerbing heated clothing where I had an appointment to meet the Marketing manager to talk about sponsorship for my ride into the Great White North. Seeing that Clint had called, I checked my message and found that he needed a part for his KLR from just north of Seattle. If I had received the call an hour ago, I would have been able to pick up the part for him. He needed to leave soon to beat the traffic through Seattle to get his part so I cancelled my appointment to ride back to Seattle with him. At his place, I stripped myself of riding gear and hopped in his truck to go back the direction from which I just came. Traffic had already started and was fairly slow moving all the way back up. We picked up the part he needed which was just a small oil seal for his sidecase. He found an oil leak on his way back from a ride around the northwest just the day before and needed to fix the leak before the long trip up to Alaska. We picked up the part and a spare and started back down south. Traffic was pretty much a stand still so we pulled off and got dinner at a Red Robin. Well, this day has not gone according to plan.

Back at Clint’s place, I decide to do everything but the tires tonight as we needed to have them mounted at the local Cycle gear. Clint worked on his oil seal while I changed the spark plugs and air filter. This necessitated quite a bit of removal of parts off the Honda. While removing the fuel tank, I found that the fuel line had come loose and was barely clipped on. Lucky this never came off completely. It could have resulted in quite a nice fireball of fuel, aluminum, magnesium and flesh. The air filter was completely clogged like I have never seen before. There were hundreds of bees, bugs and butterflies lodged in the paper element. Several large stones were also in the airbox and I had to actually vacuum it all out. Filter and plugs changed, I reassembled it all making sure the fuel line was plugged in nice and tight. Oil was changed and everything went remarkably well. I was confident that tomorrow we would leave by mid afternoon on our Alaskan adventure.

The airbox after the 1st round of cleaning.

getting stripped down.

Clint having fun with the oil seal.

Clints job however, was not as easy. The oil seal goes into the case no problem, but there were several obstacles keeping the side case from going on easily flipping the seal inside out on almost every attempt. It was hard to tell whether or not the seal actually went on as it should. The side case was put on and pulled off dozens of times and finally after a few hours, Clint was somewhat satisfied. We had a couple of beers then cleaned up and went to bed. I crashed on the couch for the night.

8.21.11 Day 61 Meals on top of Meals.

8.21.11 Day 61 Meals on top of Meals.

I slept in as late as I possibly could today. I needed sleep and rest desperately. Once I was finally awake and mobile, I decided to ride down to the Fremont Sunday market as my brother had suggested. As I entered the market, I saw the “Manog Lady” I’d heard about so I stopped to get a Mexican style mango. The mango is peeled, then shoved onto a chopstick, then sliced and covered with chili powder, lime juice and salt. At first it sounded like an unusual concoction of flavors, but it ended up being quite good. I perused the market as I gobbled down the mango. Many people stopped me and wondered what the hell I was eating and with mouth full of juicy mango, I’d point at the “mango lady” and grunt. By the time I devoured the mango, I was at another food stand. This time nachos. I ordered the small plate and was delighted at how good it actually looked. I have a thing for nachos and Ive eaten a lot of nachos as I travel and these are the best Ive had on this trip. Good sliced beef, white cheese, fresh homemade salsa, everything was as it should be. I also got a Horchata drink that ended up being the best Ive had. Im liking this Fremont market. With a big plate full of nachos, I sat down on the curb and feasted. I was pretty full but when I walked by the empanadas, I got one anyways. Now I can barely walk but I managed to waddle through the rest of the market sipping on my horchata. I found a book about riding bicycles in Puget Sound for my brother and bought him a pound of Rainier cherries. Well, almost a pound, I had a few handfuls.

Fremont Market

Mexican style mango

nachos and horchata

Back on the bike, I headed back towards my brothers place to let the full belly sit. On the way back, I decided I wanted a drink so I stopped by a coffee shop and got a pomegranate tea. While sitting there sipping on my tea, I noticed a Pho place across the street. Its been a while since Ive had pho. I think Ill waddle over and have a bowl. Cant have pho without some boba tea. I barely managed to shovel the last bite into my mouth. Waddled back to the bike and sat on the bike for a minute. Oh my god, what did I just do to myself. At the apartment I just sat there reading for a while. I couldn’t lay down and I couldn’t move. I could just sit.

Eventually my brother came home from work and wanted to get dinner. Dinner….Ive already eaten three meals today, but sure, why not. We decided on a Greek restaurant in Bellevue. It was a nice drive into town and at the restaurant, we got the Farmers Dinner and the kabobs. The meal was massive. As soon as it came out, I knew I was in trouble. I was going to be defeated by my food for the first time in a very long time. It was a great dinner, but I hardly put a dent into it. I left absolutely stuffed and regretting those last few bites desperately attempting to make it look like I ate something off the plate. Then after dinner, we went to a ice cream shop that made homemade ice cream and special flavors. The flavor of the day was banana cream pie and actually really tasted like bananas. Regrettably, I ordered a coffee drink instead of the ice cream. It was good, but the ice cream was better. Now I am really and truly filled to the brim. I cant take anymore. We went back to the apartment and watched some you tube videos and then a movie.

Its back to riding tomorrow. Need to do some work on the bike and start making my way up to Alaska.

8.15.11 - 8.20.11 Day 54 - 60 Yummy Yummy!

8.15.11 - 8.20.11 Day 54 - 60 Yummy! Yummy!


William has to work today at 2 so I’m on my own. We grab some lunch at a Thai restaurant just a block away. We share a chicken curry and a pad see ew, quite good. One thing that William mentioned and that Ive noticed is that its hard to find the typical chain restaurants in the city. it’s a welcome change to the kind of stuff I normally end up eating. After lunch I relax a bit and try to catch up on the blog and start getting things ready for work next week.

I wrote, then read, then wrote some more. Soon I found myself to be exhausted and fell asleep quite early. I didn’t even think about eating dinner. I also forgot to get things ready to fly to Milwaukee tomorrow.


Somewhat early morning today. I have a taxi, train then plane ride to Milwaukee. I found the suitcase my brother offered to let me borrow and threw some clothes, my laptop and some books inside then called for a taxi. After 15 minutes of waiting, the taxi still hadn’t shown so I called for another and it finally arrived. Great, already running behind schedule. I was dropped at the University Ave station for $8. Downstairs I stood around and waited for the train. The buses also come through the same area so for a second, I was confused as to exactly what the train looked like. After some time, something resembling a train pulled up and I boarded. The trains are fairly new to Seattle so everything was still white, shiny and new unlike the old and used MARTA trains I am accustomed to in Atlanta. There was also no real way of ticketing so I wondered how many people got free rides until a few stops later, a couple of officers got on board and asked for tickets. Hmmmm, for a brand new transit system, it seemed kind of silly to check for tickets in this fashion.

Things are moving slower than expected and at this point, I’m starting to worry if Ill even catch my plane. I get to Seatac an hour before my flight departs then realize I have a long walk to get to the terminals. I half jog, half walk towards the terminals expecting the plane to leave me behind. But for some reason, I wasn’t bothered to actually run. The tickets counters were flooded with people as I find my way to Airtran. Luckily, my line was short. Got my ticket and then did my half walk half jog to the gates. I walked up right as they were announcing the zones and I looked at my ticket for the first time and realized I didn’t even have a seat assignment. I had to wait until the gate agent finished boarding the other passengers and she found me a seat. On board and looking at the seat number, I walked right past 1st class as usual only to find I had already passed my seat. Wait, am I in first class? Nice! Free upgrade. I sat down in my larger than usual seat and stretched out. I could get used to this. Upon takeoff, I glanced out the window to see a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier from the air. There were also a few other prominent peaks but for some reason, I cant remember any of them.

Milwaukee. I met Kevin at the rental car counter where we got our Nissan Cube. Kevin is a fabricator for West and we use him for track events from time to time. Our second car was running this weekend so Kevin was brought in to join in on the fun. We went straight to our hotel near Sheboygan, picked up Jake and off to dinner of pizza and beer. No work today.


We set up the canopy and I went about cleaning and prepping the car after the last weekend in Ohio. The car was a mess after the rain race and the trip to the gravel trap. I spent hours cleaning and vacuuming only to spend more hours prepping the car. The car had picked up a misfire at the last race and I found some water in the ECU plugs so I cleaned them until I was satisfied all the connections were as good as they could be. After the car looked to be mechanically sound, I rolled her up onto the scale pads and did a scale and alignment. Almost everything on the car needed to be changed so it took a while to finish. I cant seem to remember what we did for dinner now. Im pretty sure tonight was just another simple meal at a place in Sheboygan.


First session out, Jim just did lap after lap and lap. Several times I radioed in to him to pit so I could take tire pressures. He said he had radio issues but Im pretty sure he was just ignoring me, ha. No matter, it was good to get some track time in. I can get pressures the next session.

Second session - After a few minutes on track, Jim called in and said he was pitting. He said the car was smoking and extremely ill handling. I had an idea of what happened. We have had lower control arms break before so when he pulled in, the first thing I noticed was the lowered stance of the right rear control so off went the engine cover. The control arm was fine, but the rod end bushing had torn completely out of its bushing. Huh….havnt seen that one before. Not having one on pit lane and being too early in the session to just call it quits, I jumped on the golf cart and hauled ass back to the trailer to find the spare parts and some of the tools to replace the bushing. Parts in hand, I jumped over the pit wall and went straight to work. The car is extremely hot and my hands burned on every part. After a minute, they became numb so I was able to get the old bushing out and replace it with a new one. As I was finishing up, I had Jim start getting back into the car. There was still time left in the session so we were to salvage as much of it as we could. Back on track. While Jim was on track, I started thinking out all the other old rod ends on the rear suspension and made up my mind to replace all the old ones tonight. This was probably just a fluke but you can never be too safe at a track like Road America.

I believe tonight was the night we went to the Japanese Hibachi restaurant. This place didn’t even look open so I got out and tested the door. Yup, Japanese for dinner! We sat around the Hibachi grill, ordered and waited for the chef to come out. The chef was someone I wont soon forget. He had a minimal grasp of the English language so to keep us entertained, he used a little bit of broken English and a lot of random noises. His favorite line was "Yummy Yummy!" It was tough to listen to but funny to look over at the other guys at the table and see their misery and amusement all at the same time. I couldn’t wait to get dinner over with. The food was way sub par and the only thing that saved the meal was the beer. Once the chef left, the table next to us filled up and here he comes again. Oh no, I can’t bear to listen to this again. I finished my meal in a hurry as the chef started his rehearsed and almost scripted show. I went outside to escape the noise and misery and ended up talking to the waitress for a while. Sweet cute girl from Chicago. I wanted to tell her that the chef was terrible and annoying at best but I didn’t have the heart after she told me they had a really hard time finding a chef and keeping one there because of the restaurant’s remote location among the cow fields of Wisconsin. I went back inside praying the others were finished as well.


Qualifying. The session started out as any other. Jim was slowly dropping his times and I was just ticking off the laps. Then came the call over the radio. “Weekend’s over.”
“What happened? You okay Jim?”

I thought maybe the motor blew or maybe he took a corner off the corner. Im thinking, weekend’s not over, I can fix whatever it is. it’s a race car.

“Went off in the carousel, hit the concrete wall. Car is pretty bad and Im not so sure Im not hurt.”

“Jim, if you think you are hurt, stay in the car and don’t move, the ambulance will come to you. Don’t move!”

I ran over to one of the timing stands and searched the monitors for a sign of Jim and the car. One screen showed the car resting again the concrete wall but soon turned blank. That’s not good, they normally only do that when the driver is badly hurt. No longer having communication with Jim since the corner workers and ambulance arrived, there was nothing left to do but pack up pit lane and head back to the paddock and wait. Our trailer is right next to the medical building so I would be able to see it coming. We waited a few long minutes before the ambulance finally pulled up. Jim’s two driver coaches and myself start heading over when I see the tow truck with the car in the air coming towards us as well. Crap, well, one of us is going to have to take care of the car. So I flagged down the truck and led him to our trailer. The medics wouldn’t have let me into the building anyways so I would just have to wait to hear from Bobby or Tom, or Jim preferably.

Once we got the car down on the ground and under the awning, I took a good look at the undamaged rear of the car to make sure something hadn’t broken causing the car to go off. I also searched for something I may have left loose or just plain forgot. So far in my career, a race car has not crashed or been damaged because of my wrongdoing and if someone was to get hurt because of my carelessness or a mistake on my part, then it would be over. I wouldn’t put a wrench to a race car ever again. Once satisfied that nothing had broken, I started to survey the damage on the car and start thinking about putting it back together. After getting the nose off the car, I realized the heavy damage the car had received and knew Jim was right. The weekend is over. The main frame bend was bent and it was lucky that it didn’t fracture and impale Jim in the left. The way the car hit the wall, the suspension didn’t buckle like designed under the force of impact and instead transferred all the force in the frame rail through the pick up point. The chassis needs to go back into the jig to be cut and rewelded. Nothing I could do here. I made a list of the damage, then covered her up and waited to hear about Jim. They were taking him to the local hospital to have x-rays and such done. Jim seemed okay for the most part, but with an impact like that, it always better to be safe than sorry. With adrenaline and shock, one may not realize that something is actually broken.

Later on, I got word that Jim was okay. Bruised and sore, but okay. We still had the other car and a race today so we got back to work and got Kevin’s car ready to go. I don’t even remember how the race went, it was seemingly unimportant to me. It wasn’t my car, it wasn’t my driver. My car is underneath a cover unable to be reapaired and my driver was in the hospital. Race over, we prepped the car for the next day, rolled down the sides of the awning and called it a night.


We had a race in the early afternoon today and we had to break everything down and load it all before Kevin and I had to catch our flights home. It was going to be a busy day. We cleaned up everything we could but it would still be a rush to get everything loaded and strapped down after the race. The rain came and went while we waited for our time on track. Its going to be another one of those last minute decisions again. Once we were on grid, the skies were clear and blue and the radar showed no signs of weather. Then, for some season completely unbeknownst to me, the officials called it a wet race and we were forced to start the race on rain tires. Worst call Ive seen in a really long time. While thrashing to put the rain tires on at the last minute, I realized that the tire guys had mounted one of the tires backwards so I rushed back to them and had it flipped then rushed back to finish helping Kevin with the tire change.

The driver of the second car runs in several different race series, 4 this weekend alone so he had his own set of crew guys that normally work for his LMPC car. They insisted that we change to the dry tires as soon as possible. My call would have been to wait for the rest of the pack to come in. it’s a short race and there would be no time to make up for the time spent in pit lane unless everyone else pitted also. We pitted from the lead…..another terrible call. We borrowed a couple of guys from the LMPC team but honestly, I think Kevin and I would’ve been better off doing it ourselves. The car went back on track over 1.5 minutes behind. We were only 8 seconds faster on the slick tires and at this rate, we weren’t going to catch the leaders. The only hope was the competitors tires would fall off even more or they would spin because of ill handling caused by soft wet tires on a hot dry track. We eventually worked our way up to third past the slower cars. Then I hear race control calling the 2nd place car off at a corner. Sweet. Up to second. Then race control came back on the radio and said the 1st place car would be penalized two positions for avoidable contact. Okay, 1st place it is then. Haha, sometimes you just need a little luck and some bad moves on the competitors parts. The two cars that made contact were actually teammates, oops.

After the race, we pushed the car through tech and started packing up the trailer. Apparently, the fuel sample we gave the officials were way off so we had to give a second sample along with a sample from our fuel barrel. Strange, it was a fresh barrel that weekend straight from the VP fuel dealer. No ill intentions on our part. We run the fuel that is sold to us by the VP guy. We continue packing and get everything in the trailer just in time for me and Kevin to rush to the airport and catch our flights. Kevin’s flight is earlier than mine, so I actually had time to eat some dinner at the airport.

Short but long day. Once boarded, I fell asleep before the plane even took off. I woke up to the flight attendant asking me what I wanted to drink. I grunted, shrugged her off and went back to sleep. When the second round of beverages came around, I finally got up and had a ginger ale and read my book until the plane touched down in Seattle. I boarded the train back to downtown and was picked up by my brother. A friend of his was having a house warming party and he asked me to come along, but I just wanted a shower and a bed. Im too tired.