So Close, and Yet…

Hey Patrick,

Check you out, NASCAR Pat! Photo courtesy of and Ken Spring.

First things first. I see I missed yet another of your Camping World Series West appearances. It didn’t occur to me to check the Camping World Series schedules until Saturday, and it looks like you guys ran on the 4th. Oh fekkin well! Not your best finish by a mile, but I bet it was a good race. Another notch in your belt, another $1500 or so in the kitty. There ya go. I should know better than to think you’d take a weekend off when there’s an opportunity to race!

Also in the “missed it” department, I was chatting with my friend about his decision to bail on the 24 Hours of LeMons and run his $500 car in another $500 car series, and he mentioned that he was going to test and tune the beast this Monday at Little Tally. At an open track day. Only $100 and limited to 20 cars so metric buttloads of track time. And full by the time I called to register, dammit!

Well it’s funny how those things work. I had the 911 out for a nice jaunt today, and two things happened. In reverse order, I pulled onto a big four-lane from a twisty road, and the Dodge Charger that didn’t quite keep up behind me came around to my right, rolled down his window, and the driver said, “Your driver’s side tail lights and brake lights are out.” I knew about the tail light. But the brake light is a new problem. The tail light is out because the whole box is a bit wonky in its 21 yrs of age and I knew it was a miracle that all but the tail were working…until now. I was at the shop when the box was pulled the last time and the problem with the tail light was a big old mystery. Now add brake light! So thank you kind Charger driver, and that being the case, I cannot pass tech to drive the track day tomorrow anyway.

Until then, you know what my plan was? I was already on the waiting list for Little Tally. And quite often with any event like this, there’ll be a no-show or two. So my evil plan was to get up early and drive on out there, pay the gate fee to get in and watch, and just be right there in case there were any cancellations. Also, the track owner has always been so kind to me, and if he knew I was there wanting to drive, I have a feeling he’d let me.

By the way, we are overlooking completely the fact that I have not been signed off to drive solo there. Ahem.

Well my $500 car friend who told me about the event said if I needed a co-pilot, he’d go out with me. So I had that covered.

Anyway, twas not to be.

The other thing that happened was this. The first stop in our afternoon jaunt today was to stop at my friend’s house out near Barber. Her husband works out of town and it’s rare all four of us are around to get together. So we did it. Yay! I drove up in the 911, my husband folded into the passenger seat, and her husband had never seen it up close. He drooled and moaned about driving it and of course, I let him take a spin. I’m not a big dummy. I’ve ridden with him in his manual-trans car and I know he knows his way around fine and has decades of experience. In hindsight, I should have at least ridden along.

All I can tell you is this. He was gone about a half hour. He said he had fun. He parked it, and it was another couple of hours before I got in. I got the seat and mirrors all back as I like them, put on my seat belt, clutch in, left hand turned the key in the ignition, and my right hand was on the shifter, and something was very, very different. It didn’t feel right. Just sitting there popping it out of first into neutral and putting it back into first…not right. Loose and…clacky. Uh oh.

So I have no clue what this means. My heart sank, because…wow. HUGE difference in the feel. It wasn’t all bad, but it was very very clear that he had done something very differently from what I have ever done with that transmission – and it showed. The car drove home fine. Part two of the jaunt was a new fantastic twisty road I discovered a few weeks ago, and we headed on out there and I gave her a spirited run through there. No noise, no performance issues, the shifter itself just feels extreeeemely loose moving into all the gears whether up or down. And in neutral, I don’t know how else to describe it but loose and clacky-feeling (and some clacky sound that wasn’t there before as well). Also the shifter moves around alot more when the car is in gear, as I speed up and slow down, it kind of moves around more. Shifter bushings maybe? I do not know.

So. I don’t think I’d want to run it on the track until I check that out anyway. Right?

Thus, assuming my shop is open tomorrow, and they tend to be open on most Monday holidays, I will be there first thing to have one of the guys take it for a ride and tell me what the hell’s going on in there. And I’ll have to get that back light box issue addressed also, because while technically you can drive on track with one working brake light, I am not sure if I can pass tech with one out, and of course it’s preferred they both be working. I know some places just will not let you start out like that.

I am going to try to keep up with the NASCAR schedules and see if I can catch you in one of those races.

With the race on the 4th, perhaps you actually are having a weekend off. Wherever you are, be well and drive purty!



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