Day one, Thursday Feb. 12, 2009

Having dropped the car and trailer yesterday at the track we were at the track early for registration and tech inspection. Since my car now had a roll cage and other SCCA race required modifications it needed to be officially inspected and given a new log book and registration number which, is stamped on the main hoop of the cage. The car passed with no problems.

We then had a short class session by the instructors and had time to walk the track which we did. It is helpful to do this when possible.

Day two, Friday Feb. 13, 2009

We were out at the track by 7:00 AM with a drivers meeting at 7:45 then we were paired with our assigned driving instructors. David and I drew the same instructor.
We then went out for a "station wagon" tour of the track with our instructor in his large truck. He showed us his preferred line thru the corners. We then did pace laps behind a pace car. Afterward we were turned out on the track for practice by our assigned group. We were in Group 3. We ran twenty minute practice sessions until lunch.
After lunch we ran more twenty minute practice sessions until closing time at 5:30.
However the real drama began when I came around a turn and there was David off in the grass. David is driving Spence Shepard’s car. David had to be towed in. It turned out to be a broken lower ball joint. Everyone began to search for a ball joint. Turned out there was an early model Corvair parked next to the home in the middle of the track where the folks who manage the track live. They actually bummed one and removed it from the car. The crew got Dave back on track so he only missed one session. On his next session out the other lower joint broke! David nursed the car around for enough laps to complete his session. The crew bummed the other lower ball joint off the early model and the crew had it fixed by the time the drivers meeting was over. What a bunch of guys and gals!

It was my turn to have some trouble. I decided to disconnect my secondaries as it was falling flat in hard corners, a problem I've had for awhile. When I fired the car up for a test it sprang a big fuel leak! The problem turned out to be a cracked flare at the carb inlet. It split from the engine vibration. The cure was a piece of rubber tubing and two clamps thanks to our crew chief Mike Levine! I completed my last session with no more problems.
I am one tired puppy but I still have a grin on my face! We had the usual swarm of Miata’s to contend with and these guys have an attitude problem. It was a load of fun to pass them, especially on the long front straight. I had to keep reminding myself this is a school, not a race but....I was tached out at around 6200 RPM's flat out on the straight and I could pass them!   Old car and an old driver!

Day three, Saturday Feb. 14, 2009

We just got in from the track and the free beer was well deserved.
Dave Clemens has a story to tell and I'll let him tell it. I will say having two broken ball joints was the least of his troubles but, the good news is David will be able to complete the school.
We have also voted David a Bohunk of the year award!
As for me well, I had a few issues like the other steel 90 degree bend on the gas lines to the carbs broke and I again found it in the pits as opposed to a nice leak at speed. I had purchased several lengths of pre flared brake tubing from the local Advance the night before just incase.
Today after the drivers meeting we had the usual 20 minute by group practice sessions. It was raining and I was anxious to see what running in the rain with slick racing tires feels like.
I was a lot better at it than I thought I'd be. Out of 29 people I was 11th.
It's fun to watch a pack of frenzied Miata’s having off track excursions! They drive them like bumper cars!
The last event of the day was the five lap sprint race to teach us how to start a race and watch the flag stations. Our last practice session before the race was our qualifying laps. I started 17th out of 26. I don't know where I finished as it was getting dark when we finished and the cold beer was waiting. What was fun was passing some Miata’s and other cars and then blowing down the straight and seeing all the Corvair guys standing on the wall cheering me on! Also watching the other over anxious guys do some off track excursions right in front of me! I just grinned and motored on by. Yes!

I am happily tired again but I still have a big grin on my face and tomorrow will be the final day of our double drivers’ school and hopefully we will get our ticket punched!

Day four, Feb. 15, 2009

It’s over. Dave, Dan and I now have our novice SCCA permits to go racing!
I have never had so much time on track at speed. I have just realized a dream I had way back when I had nothing but kids!
You have heard most of David’s story but not all. He can tell you more.
Dan is now the big story as he bit the wall in a rented car and took out a Porsche in the process but, it was none of his doing and he got his permit.
I'll let Dan relate that saga! I have photos!
I had no other real problems other than fixing the two fuel lines that broke. Actually, my crack crew chief Mike Levine fixed it. Great guy! Hell, all the guys that came out and helped are great! I have never experienced anything like this. Usually I am the one helping out. Mike even cooked on the grill he brought along! He couldn't fit the hot tub in though. We could have used it as it got colder as the day wore on.

The car ran perfectly the whole week end and I was hammering it. Every time I went out telling myself I was just going to drive around and get my laps in I would see a Miata that just needed to be passed and the red mist kicked in. I have now figured out why they call them Flying Miata’s. Every time we hit the track several of them flew off in all directions. I assumed they were sponsored by the FFA because they were always plowing new ground!

It's not like David and I stayed on the pavement all the time. We had our agricultural excursions. I think I have about an acre of Georgia sand and dead grass in my car.
FLASH! My car is dirty! Really dirty but, it's a nice race car patina well earned.
When we left the track about 6:15 this evening the magic crew was working feverishly replacing Kevin Poe's engine. We were definitely the hit of the school. Lots of people came by to tell their Corvair story and look at the cars and the remains of Spence's engine. It was like being at a car show when I wasn't on the track and you all know how I hate to talk about my car! People could not believe that we would borrow an engine, remove the damaged one and the borrowed one, reinstall it and run the whole day at race speed then, remove it and reinstall it in the car.

Barry Ellison came to help out and thought he would be checking air in tires, shagging gas and wiping windshields but, he was spinning wrenches with the best of them and up to his elbows in grease.

My wife came up with a suggestion that I buy track T-shirts for all the crew and David and I signed them. It was a done deed. David bought one for Kevin as it was his engine he "borrowed".

Day five, Feb. 16, 2009.

We made it home at 1:15PM.
That included dropping Bob Coffin off at his place in NC. We slowed to about 80 MPH and rolled him out the door!
It will take some time to let all the things that has happened this week end soak in. My head is still spinning!
After unloading everything and parking the trailer I had to clean up the BRT (Big Red Truck). It had a ton of Georgia sand and dead grass in it plus it was dirty from the trip. It spit snow through the mountains and here at home but I had to wash the tow vehicle for work tomorrow. I do have a reputation to uphold ya know!

The race car is now sitting forlornly in the shop looking very dirty. I will attend to that later.


Back to Race Events