Thursday 17 April 2014

All American Holiday. Part 3: The track

Friday 4th April

Despite how tired I felt, my body wasn’t interested in sleeping and made me get up at 0900. This was not a bad call, as it goes, because Holiday Express stops serving breakfast at 11 so by the time I had checked my emails, had a shower and got dressed, I barely had enough time to throw bacon at my face. After breakfast I read a bit of USA Today. The NASCAR bit to be specific. I looked up the time and channel for the Nationwide race and then my body finally did give up and I slept until race time. I had planned to wander across the road to a burger place I had spotted for lunch. But my second wake-up of the day did not leave enough time before the beginning of the Nationwide race to worry about frivolities such as food.
I watched the race and found it quite easy to sleep again until Saturday morning.

Saturday 5th April

I got up about 0630 on Saturday. I was pleased because this is my usual wake up time at home. It is the day of the race and my body is fitting into the time difference so I shouldn’t be tired this afternoon.
I read an email from the team boss saying that, because of the rain last week, All American Speedway is suffering from weepers. They are not sure if the track will be fit to race on, but will let us know at 1000. Weepers, for those that are not up to speed with the local lingo, are when rain water doesn’t drain away from the raceway properly. The track appears dry but the water is trapped underneath the surface. As the day warms up, the water rises to the surface and leaks onto the track creating a “Weeper”
It was decided we were good to go so I took a cab to the track arriving at about 1300. Now my day really begins.

I arrive at the race track. There are three booths adjacent to the pit entrance. Best get in a queue and see what happens then. The topic of the queue is the lack of NASCAR licences about the place. It seems that NASCAR are tardy with the distribution of licences. To exonerate themselves from this, it is my understanding that they circulate a list of all the current licence holders to the track. The list is not in alphabetical order however, making finding a single name a tedious task.
The driver in front of me at the queue is about to meet this problem head on. He has applied for, been accepted, but is yet to receive his licence. The lady in the booth cannot find his name on the list. The correct procedure here is for the driver to fill out a temporary licence form and pay $40. Once this is done, he will not be entitled to a refund even though the situation is not really his fault. So the driver refuses to pay and insists he is entitled to race.

 I empathise with this and more race officials should take note. I am only aware of one driver who has ever loaded up his car and went to a race meeting where he was not allowed to race, on the off chance they would let him in. If the guy has bothered to go through all this effort to get there, then it is probably a clerical error that he isn’t on the list. 

Back in Roseville, the guys crew chief is jumping up and down and the lady in the booth is in a terrible state. She tries to ring the track owner and can’t get through. She leaves a message for him to come down to the gate and solve this dilemma. One of her colleagues looks over the list, finds the driver, gives her the correct wristbands to distribute and rings the track owner to inform him that his presence is no longer required at the gate. Crisis averted. Good, now I can add my own!

“Hi what series are you in?”
“Pro 4 Modified”
“What car number?”
“I don’t know.”
“I can’t sign you in if you don’t have a car number!”
“Sure you can, you can use my name and add the car number later. It will be one of Greg Rayl’s cars, and it will be the one you don’t have a driver for.”

I pay the lady. She reluctantly gives me my wrist band and I go in.

The pits here are comparable to Warneton. It still uses portaloos but they are American sized and plentiful. There are no Banger teams starting oil barrel fires and everyone is pretty pleasant. I meet Greg and his team and sit in the race car for the first time. They are very pretty looking cars. Inside they are sparse. No gauges. No mirrors. Nothing to think about other than going forward and the raceceiver in your ear. I got settled in and asked for a quick peddle adjustment. The car was comfortable and it had that “Straight out of the dash” steering wheel angle that I like.
I strapped in for first practice. You enter the oval at turn three. There is good banking, more than it looks on the television. As I’m coming down towards the main straight I can see the weepers. There is one midway up the track in turn three and another closer the inside of turn four. So, I said to myself, any line you take here will result in hitting a weeper, where would you like to lose control?
We circled another couple of times and then they dropped the green. I accelerated. These things are pretty slow compared to the Late Model and the Sprint Car. I turn into turn one and the back starts coming around. I am not on the gas anyway, but I stay off it, just so to keep the speed down. I turn in as fast as the steering will allow, but it’s gone. The car pirouettes to the infield of turn one and the yellows come out.

Well that was weird, must go slower.

I get the car going again and the green flag waves. This time I am deliberately slow into turn one, still the back steps out. I catch it this time. Flooring the throttle doesn’t get the car loose, it doesn’t really have the power for that. Turns three and four are like ice but that could be water as much as set-up. I try going into turn one with less lock on, taking a wider sweeping arc into the corner, but still the back starts to go. I like a car that will turn through the center as much as the next man, but this is ridiculous…

***All the crap you see written here is Kelvin's opinion and not that of his associates, race team or marketing partners.***

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