THE SHENANDOAH CIRCUIT
We, meaning my wife Janet and I arrived at the host hotel a little after noon on
Sunday, the day before the last NECC track event for this year. It was a great day
for a drive through the mountains and the Big Horn Hemi truck rumbled happily along.
It's so nice to have a reliable tow vehicle!
As we turned in to the Holiday Inn parking lot I began looking for signs of other Corvair people. The first thing I saw in the back of the lot was the BBRT or Bohunk Brothers Racing Team HQ trailer set up with the HMFIC head Bohunk Col. Chuck Hisself holding court along with his trusty second in command the HCIC or Head Curmudgeon In Charge Hubert "Smitty" Smith.
I announced my arrival with a blast from the Hammer 3 train horns on my truck.
After parking I dragged out the lawn chairs and took my place under the awning as
a loyal card carrying paid up member of the BBRT. We had a great time sitting around
the asphalt and watching the other folks arrive. I did my best as the TLH in not
letting any straight line go untouched!
Monday morning after an ill-fated attempt to get breakfast in the new and unprepared hotel we mounted up and headed out to the track. As has been stated before, there is no one way to get to the Summit Point track.
The Shenandoah circuit is the newest of the three circuits and kind of on the back side of the track proper so it has its own entrance. Momma programmed the Tom Tom and we went chugging along wagon train style through the back country of Wild Wonderful West "By Gawd" Virginia. Just when it seemed we were hopelessly lost the track entrance appeared.
We picked a spot in the paddock and unloaded the car. After the obligatory drivers meeting the various groups lined up for several yellow flag laps to "learn" the course. Yeah, right! Finally it was time to let the horses out and stomp the loud pedal. Did I say learn the track? I am not a fast study. Heck, I was 28 before I could tie my own shoes!
I don't know how many laps I ran around that 2.2 mile twisty, tricky, treacherous track more suited to bikes, go carts and mountain goats but, I was beat! It is a very physical track!
Someone described it as being a "technical" course. Damned if it ain't! It demanded
respect and bit those who stepped over the line...or got off line as it were! However,
that didn't stop us wannabe Corvair race car drivers! It was a physical workout.
My shoulders are sore from sawing on the wheel!
I only had two really anxious moments. One was at turn 2 or the Hammer as it’s called. I was working on doing the Cave Esses leading up to it and was carrying too much speed, braked late and turned in early.
The corner drops off a crown and negative camber. I did not go off the pavement but, I certainly used the entire road available to keep from it and ended up pointed in the right direction with no flags.
The second anxious moment was at the downhill ess leading on to pit road and a large concrete wall. It seems from all the comments I got that everyone was standing right there watching me about to mess up! I really thought I was going to bunt the barrier. Somebody remarked later, your eyes were this big! Huh, you should have been in my seat! I did manage to miss the wall and continue on but, I changed my approach to that turn! Later on someone complimented me on my car control...that was pure outhouse luck! I am of Irish extraction ya know.
When it was time for the clocked runs I did my best to just get a clean run. I felt
it was okay. As is my habit I do not look at lap times during the event. I only did
one timed lap as I felt it would be my best. Looking at the results on the NECC site
I didn’t do too badly with an 8th over all. I’m happy with that but, I asked David
Clemens to take some evaluation laps in my car and he showed me it is faster than
I am. That’s good in my case.
At the end of the day I was relieved and felt a sense of accomplishment that I survived with car and ego intact. Although not an easy track I think in hindsight I would definitely run this track again. There are several other organizations like Track Daze that run events here.
After returning to the hotel and getting some grub in me I hit the sack and slept very well. Aleve is a wonder drug for us severely experienced individuals!
We hit the road for home early the next morning.
We arrived home a little after noon on Tuesday and it was another beautiful sunny fall day to travel through the mountains. We took the Southern route down I-81 to I-64 West across the hills of Virginia/West Virginia. I chose this route because it would provide an opportunity to see how well the new Big Red Dodge would pull a hill known as Sandstone Mountain which is a long steep grade near Hinton WV. The new Hemi bellowed out its 4500 RPM song in low gear all the way up with nary a hitch. The temp gauge never even moved off normal! I love my truck!
The NECC deserves a big thank you for another good event that almost didn't happen. Let's hear it for next year’s opener at Beaverun!