Monday, August 17, 2009

Night Fire Racing Diary, Pre-parking

The 2009 Nightfire Race starts Thursday August 13, 2009 but participants have the opportunity to camp on site and to enter the track on Wednesday from noon until 8PM. It seemed to me to be a good idea to take advantage of this since I live 150 miles from the track and in the next time zone, Pacific. There are things you need to do to get ready to race other than just showing up. I trailer the car so it has to be unloaded, which can take a half hour in itself after getting to an assigned parking place and that can be a bit of a time eater, especially if there are a bunch of entrants lined up. Once the car is on the ground it needs to go through a technical inspection for equipment and safety. How long it takes to get through tech depends not only on the number of cars in line but also how fast they are and how well or straight forwardly they’re prepared. The faster the car is the more items there are that have to be inspected and the more rigorous the inspection. If there is much of a line at all it can mean well over an hour spent on this. And because this is a big racing event there are usually a lot of cars and a lot of fast cars. In fact 15 States and 3 Canadian Provinces are represented at this race.

The race schedule is four days, Thursday through Sunday and I’ll be caring each day. I has …issues. Gus the Pyrenees came along so he needs to be dealt with before anything else, food, water, shade, chain. With the motor home pulling a car trailer it is about a 2 ½ hour drive and by clock that’s 3 ½ hours. Gates open at 8AM race day and time trials begin at 9:30 so the very latest I could leave on Thursday would be 5AM my time and I’d be seriously pushed to get things done by time trials. Thrashing around in that kind of rush makes for a scattered mind and clear concentration is called for. It isn’t just navigating an over powered machine, there are lot of things that take clear thinking and concentration to accomplish well – and that is the point. Air pressure on the slicks has to be just right for track temperatures, the burn out has to put just the right amount of heat into the tires for the surface, the car has to be in a specific position at the starting lights, and then you have to catch the tree just right. If you’re distracted or out of routine these things start going wrong. Spinning tires on the line kills your ET (elapsed time) and cutting a bad light puts you behind at the start. Being a day early and ready race morning is a swell idea.

Getting ready to go was a major PIA. The car trailer had to have construction equipment off loaded and organized and the motor home .,, well yes, issues. No tail lights is a problem, and having turn and brake lights isn’t enough. Naturally that’s complicated and any step forward seems to involve a couple backwards, things like losing the head lights I ha in the process of not getting tail lights. Grrr. The engine battery is fine, but the coach batteries are both dead and I find that one won’t take a charge so it’s replaced. I can’t get the refrigerator to start, it is both 110V and propane powered and I need the propane to go and it won’t. I keep trying to get it started all the way to Firebird and can’t so my groceries consist of potato chips, nuts, coffee and some soda pops that I’ll either drink warm of figure out a way to ice down. Except that while setting up camp I discover that a gas valve is in the wrong position and the thing starts right up – I’ll have cold drinks but unless I want to leave the track and drive 15 miles each way I have nothing to eat except concession stand food, pretty tasty but pretty spendy.
Gus is happy a pig in mud, he’s with his Dad and the car noise isn’t bothering him. I was worried about making him miserable with al the uncapped headers, considering his life on construction sites I don’t know why I worried. It’s hot so he’s made mud in his chest from drooling while lying in the dirt, chest and forelegs , not a pretty addition but he doesn’t care. He’s made friends with the neighboring campers, some I know from previous races.

More issues make themselves apparent. It looks like I’ll be going to town anyhow since the motor home needs the fuel filter replaced. It wasn’t apparent driving in town, but once on the freeway hauling a trailer the thing started running out of gas to the engine and the cofounded auxiliary generator can’t pull fuel through the plugged up filter and I really have to have that thing some of the time. I suppose I’ll get groceries since the market is right down the street from the parts store. When to do this can be a major question since elimination rounds will go until 10:30PM and if I’m still in I can’t leave. I don’t have real hopes in that regard, I haven’t raced in four years and I’ve made a sizable change to the car’s setup. Practice is a darned good idea if you want to stay good at a complicated skill. At $400 entry this is an expensive race and against good drivers and cars from all over the West but it has the advantage of being 4 races for one trip and I get rotten mileage towing at freeway speeds along with other costs. Things should come back pretty quickly but the first day is going to require copious amounts of luck to stay in for long.

I can’t sleep, an unfamiliar bed, strange sounds, heat, and just plain excitement are conspiring to keep me awake. After two hours dedication to the concept of sufficient sleep I’m up writing this diary. This is a fine way to be at the top of my game at 9:30AM, up at 3:15 – at least I won’t have the guilt of leaving my readers out of the fun while I can’t post due to no connection. Now, another shot at sleep

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