Chin Up

Hey Pat,

Well I had the most awesome day today! I had been looking forward to getting out to do this autocross. Then I had a little dip in my energy about it last night. Especially when it looked like it was going to rain. I was all, “OK if it’s raining when I get up, I’ll stay home.” I got all my stuff together by flashlight last night (well we really had to go to this bar and hear our friends’ band play!), and couldn’t find my rain suit. Everything else was located and packed into the 911 before I went to bed. It was cloudy but not raining when I got up. I stayed in bed an extra 30 minutes and it still wasn’t raining. WTF? I mean, I wanted to go, but I kind of didn’t.

Of course, I’m so glad I did! There was a 70% chance of rain forecast. But we seemed to exist in a protective little bubble all day, with rain falling all over the city except right where we were. All day. About half the usual people showed up, which was kind of a bummer for the organization. But for us as drivers, it meant twice the usual amount of runs. The classes were split into two groups, and each group got 3 runs before lunch, and again after. At these things, the group not running does all the work for the group that is running. So we are doing everything – timekeepers, corner workers, start, announcer, safety stewards. For my job today they handed me the microphone, and I was the announcer.

Now that was some fun! The monitor with all the run times and penalty points and rankings and driver names was not working for my half of the morning, so for my first time on the job I was called upon to improvise. I put on my glasses so I could see all the car & class numbers as the cars lined up at start and flew by at finish, and I kept a hawkeye on the timing board as each car passed. The timekeepers in the trailer behind me were able to see everything on their monitor, so they held up fingers for the number of penalty cones and used a cut-throat signal for DNFs. And it was a total blast! Who knew? I enjoyed the hell out of it, and I guess my enjoyment was somehow contagious – so many people came up to me afterward to tell me how much they enjoyed my calling the race and occasional commentary (I really was not a goof, I promise!). I will be happy to do that job any time they need an announcer.

Then it was my run group’s time to run. I had shown up early enough to walk the course several times before we got started. But I had no time to walk it in the 90 minutes that passed while the first group ran. And I was too busy on the mike to even go through it in my head. I was in the chair until literally time to get my car to grid. I made the best of the short wait there to get centered, to look out over the course and think through what I could see and beyond. And then I was off!

I was grateful to have one of my favorite drivers hop in as my co-pilot for several runs. I didn’t set any land-speed records. In fact, again, I was close to the bottom of the novice class. But I had all clean runs (I think) and my times mostly got faster through the day. I did think to make sure my front tires were inflated where I like them so that I didn’t feel like I was driving a cow – downside of that being the course was super wet and very gritty in spots. So yes, I traded traction for ease of handling. Also there was an optional feature which I decided after my walk-through to try one way for the morning, and the other way for the afternoon. It was faster going to the left! I wallowed more than I needed to through a slalom that really just needed a flick flick flick, I missed a downshift to first which just slowed me way the hell down, aw hell I guess I could pick myself apart all night.

Here’s the deal. I LOVE IT. I wish I could get out and do some driving like this every day. Even just a minute at a time as we do on the autocross courses. I need to remember how damned good it feels, and how much fun I have, and just be sure to get out every chance I get. But first! Oh my lord, more money is going into the car itself – I have to rent a storage place for it. It’s been sitting out in some heavy rains, and hello leak! I’ve got to get that checked out, get the carpet cleaned (hopefully not replaced) and then park my car in a safe, dry place from now on. My husband is not going to be happy to know I’m dumping more money into my car, but I know there’s a part of him that understands deep down, and I’m thankful he never makes a big messy issue of these things. Instead, he just kind of smiles and shakes his head at me. I can live with that. It’s the same sweet smirk that’ll see me off when I leave for Petit le Mans next Thursday night.

In other news, my good buddy Mike Sk33n continues to have an up-and-down year. Like you, he is always so upbeat. He qualified 11th in the Muscle Milk Trans Am race at Road America – and due to mechanical problems, his Fb said his car was in the trailer before lunch. The race started at 1. He says he’s learned a lot, having jumped into a race team partnership, and both of them jumping right into this series. He had that kick-ass start at Road Atlanta, but car problems have kept them in the paddock most of the rest of the year. Things looked so promising this morning – and then poof! They are already talking about what a great year they plan to have next year.

As my Irish granny used to say, “Chin up!”

Alright this has gone way longer than I’d planned. Talk about shifting gears. I have dishes and laundry to do, and I need to get my head around my job, which is going to be unusually difficult and challenging this week. Right up until the moment I leave for Atlanta on Thursday.

I’ve looked around online and I can’t really tell what you’re up to. Getting ready for Petit le Mans I’m sure. Soon enough you’ll be online with your latest.

Until then, be well and drive purty!


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