1999 Club DSM Shootout
(As originally posted to the Talon Digest)
Get up real early to load car onto the trailer. Thankfully, nobody has stolen or vandalized the trailer during the night. Finish loading truck, go back upstairs to clean up, and drive to work. Lots of stares from co-workers as I jockey the rig into a parking spot that I can actually get out of. You'd think they never saw a race car before.
Leave work, drive to Norwalk. Discover from an irate trucker that the brake lights on the trailer are not working. *sigh* I spend more time and money on tow rig maintainence than I do on making the car faster.
Arrive at the hotel - nice, big, trailer-friendly parking lot. None of the Michigan DSM guys (with whom I'm supposed to be sharing a room) are there yet. Wait for a couple of hours, get tired of waiting, and get my own room (with an extra bed, in case someone needs it) Murphy's law is in full force, immediately after I pay for the room, Mich-DSM shows up.
Mike@DSS and Jon@TRE guy need a place to stay, so I offer them my room. Spend some time gossiping with Mike. I get hooked up with a group of people going to the local go-kart track, and provide a practical demonstration of Driving the Correct Line, and the Schumaker Pass Technique (aka The Punt).
Up early again to grab breakfast and head to the track. Arrive at about 7-ish, where there's already a line about half a mile long - the most trailers I've ever seen at a Shootout. Pop in the bagpipe CD, and crank 'er up, once again annoying David and Scrmn. I love traditions.
Once inside (the people at the gate are getting better at this every year), pop the car off the trailer, and head into Norwalk to wash it. Arrive back just in time for time trials - we're not wasting any time this year, it seems.
First time trial - I have NO idea what the car will do, this being the first time I've been to a dragstrip since the change to ESP. Also have suspicions that the clutch is glazed, which turn out to be true. The first launch spins the clutch, filling the car with that wonderful smell. Run, accordingly, sucks.
I do a bunch of "clutch deglazing" exercises, and it seems to come back. Best run is a email@example.com - although I have no idea anymore of what the optimum shift RPM is anymore, so the car is probably capable of a couple of tenths more.
This is on a 2G with a 14b, the Buschur upper I/C pipe, the Buschur turbo-back 2.5" exhaust, and the stock boost controls - BCS with the restrictor still installed, no Hallman, nothing - and pump gas. That's a full second faster than last year, in similar weather conditions. This stuff works!
Eliminations begin. I've dialed in at 14.00, and cut a .525 light, running a 14.018. Still got it, baby! I brake so hard at the lights that I lock the front wheels for a split second (at 90+MPH!)- racing brake pads rock.
Second round. I fumble a bit at the lights, and get out late. Coming across the line, we're dead even, so no braking this time, even though I'm in danger of breaking out - first one across the line wins. At the timeslip shack, there's a printer screwup - no times at all for my lane. The worker thinks I redlighted, but I know I didn't, so it's off to the timing tower to see what really happened. Up there, I meet a crowd of other racers with similar problems. It turns out that I ran a 14.02 with a .61 reaction time, but the guy next to me cut a slightly better light, and beat me to the line by a whopping 0.003 seconds. Whoever you were, damn good driving! You earned that one.
I prep the car for the next day's autox. The car attracts a small crowd that can't believe the size of the tires I'm running. Talk to a lot of people, answer a lot of questions.
I move the truck to the autox paddock, then back to David's shop for the tech session. I do my little spiel about the SCCA, and then contribute to the Beer Pyramid, while the Mother of All Thunderstorms rages outside. Afterwords, I watch Dasher (who apparently has never heard of sunscreen, he looks like a lobster) consume his weight in pizza, and Croft get drunk.
Up early again to open up the autox site gates. Walk the course a couple of times, and debug the trailer taillights (blown bulbs)
Chad has his hands full running things, and it looks like he doesn't have as much help as he did last year. Even so, he does a great job keeping the chaos tamed, and aside from this strange 3-run, 2-heat format he's using, my only gripe is that he doesn't have the safety tape running down the left side of the course like he did the previous year, so a few examples from the shallow end of the gene pool keep wandering onto the course. Hey guys, Chad needs more help next year, OK?
The course is long and fast, just like last year. My first run is an OK 61.1, but there's lots of time left on the course. The next run is shaping up to be a good one, but when I try to take the back section of offsets flat out, the car snaps and I head into the grass at about 70 MPH. Luckily, there are no corner workers or light poles nearby, so no harm done, but I'm real pissed about the complete and utter lack of warning from the tires. My last run of the AM session is a low 60, but I cone it away.
Meanwhile, Fedja appears to be having car trouble, as does Brett. The morning session ends with me well in the lead, and showing a second faster in raw time. A good start, but it's still anybody's race. I find myself wishing it was a 3-run event.
The second session goes no better, the car is slithering around in the fast offsets, and I'm collecting cones. I get one run where I NAIL the first half of the course, and I'm like maybe 5 gates from the finish when I clip a cone. When I hear it go down, I start cursing and swearing in the cockpit, and with my concentration blown I get a little out of shape in the last slalom - and the time is a low 60. Dammit! That'd've been a 59 if I'd missed that cone and kept focus.
Fedja has fixed his car, and he comes out swinging, and he puts a low 59 on the boards with his last run. Meanwhile, Team Brett has switched cars. Brett's codriver puts a mid 60 up, but Brett gets no help. I finish 3rd on the strength of my first run.
My after race inspection reveals that my tires are corded, so the Flint CENDIV the next day is now out of the question - no tires. I decide to switch to Kuhmos to see if I can tame the back end of the car, all this sliding around is getting ridiculous.
Overall, a great time. I got to meet and talk to a lot of people, and answer a lot of questions. If you haven't done a Shootout, do it - it's way worth it. Thanks to Chad and David and everyone else working the event for another great job.
How many days 'till Shootout 2K?