Sunday Driver

Dear Patrick,

I thought I’d take a little different approach to things this time around. I am downloading the Long Beach circuit for rFactor, and I’m going to fire up my rinky-dink simulator and take a spin out there myself. Hopefully I can steal a few minutes between now and next weekend so that I can get to know the track, and have some clue what you guys are talking about when you talk about it.

In my note yesterday, I wondered if you stayed in NYC for the weekend – forgetting that it was Easter weekend. You probably made your way out to Cali, and if so, you have a nice stretch out there thru Long Beach. What do I know. If it were me, I’d want to go home and regroup a bit between NYC and Cali. Florida is not exactly “on the way,” but it’s all relative when you spend your life in constant motion anyway, right? Well, wherever you are, I hope you are happy and well. And ready to kick some more ass this weekend!

As I type, there is a crazy storm raging outside. Very windy. I’m on battery power for the moment. Sorry to be so maudlin the past few entries, but it’s been a very sad time. When I’m at the track, or out with my car club friends, I enjoy happy associations with my dad. But sometimes the sad stuff is there, and I am just plain sad. Today, Easter Sunday, has been one of those days. I awoke feeling sad, remembering how I went to my father’s church last Easter, and made a video for him to bring back Easter greetings from all his church friends. He died a little over a month later.

My father was Maronite (Lebanese) Catholic, and they have this greeting they say at Easter, which, to the American ears of my father’s children, sounded absolutely hilarious. In fact, it sounded like random throat-clearing to us! Every Easter as kids, we’d imitate the grown-ups exchanging the Lebanese greeting with our own exchange of throat-clearings. And every year, without fail, wherever we were, we’ve always exchanged a round of long-distance phone calls to exchange our silly version of the Easter greeting. I guess my whole family was sad today. Not even a throat-clearing on my voicemail!

My magnetic numbers came in - thought wed do a little Easter portrait.

My magnetic numbers came in - thought we'd do a little Easter portrait.

I sought balance for the overwhelming sadness behind the wheel of my 911. I’d not had her out in over a week, and she was a touch slower to start than usual. But she fired up nicely. I took it easy until she was well warmed up. And for the first time? I put my heel-toe downshifting practice to the test out on the road. I’ve been sitting in the car going over the footwork from time to time, but I was really chicken to just do it while moving. So I just did it. And I am getting it! As I went through the series of traffic lights downtown, I tried it several times, and it felt better and better. Not quite smooth and confident yet, but a little progress. I’ll be more comfortable actually using this when it makes sense to out on the road. And ultimately, on the track.

She was ready to run by the time I had made my way to a favorite twisty road. It starts with a big downhill sweeper that leaves the downtown main street and turns right onto a four-lane that goes along the river for several miles. I hate the two new traffic lights that break this run up, but they had the decency to be green and unobstructed as I got to them. On Easter Sunday, there were hardly any cars out. I pushed hard. Then I went left onto a stretch of brand new controlled-access highway that runs a long, flat, straight shot over the river. One of my favorite places to really stretch out. Which I did – within reason, of course. Ahem.

Cruella and Friend

Cruella and Friend

Then right onto a two-lane that twists down into a valley, with big left downhill sweeper to the dam over the lake. I always see awesome big birds in the big open space on the other side of the lake, and was not disappointed today. Two blue herons coasted overhead as I flew back up the hill.

I went a few more miles, then turned around in a church parking lot and retraced my way back until I got almost back home. I turned down a nearby street to see if my racing team friend was back from the weekend of fun in Baton Rouge. As I pulled up behind his 78 911SC parked at the curb, I saw him walking toward me. Coming down to the street to move his 911 to the garage. It was starting to rain. It was so good to see him and get caught up on “the team.” He heard the same rhythmic, distant papery kind of sound I noticed in my engine. Sounds like it’s time for a valve adjustment. I’ll add that to the list!  After a stop at the grocery store for the rest of dinner, I headed home, refreshed and invigorated.

And now I’ve rambled off several hundred more words at you (more than a thousand this time, eek, thanks WordPress!), and not said all I thought I was going to say, but it’s going on midnight, and time for me to turn in. Big week ahead. I will be watching as things get going this week in prep for Long Beach. I hope you guys rock it!



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