I Love My Car

Hi Pat,

I probably shouldn’t be so attached to my car, but man, I love my car. She was great fun over the weekend and I really enjoyed having her off for a nice road trip.

It was very very cold over the weekend, but at least we didn’t get rained on. You know how much fun Road Atlanta is in the rain! I had all my layers on, and was just fine. We ran both sides of the track, with the racers paddocked and gridded on the “pro” side (infield) and the HPDE folks on the outer paddock and grid. I liked my assignment at grid-in on the DE side, close to the tower and to my car. I ended up being the runner to get the grid sheets from the tower to the DE grid for time trials, so I got to get out and about, and walk the entire length of the grid multiple times – best way to stay warm! Perfect!

One of my favorite cars had its passenger seat in – a 1966 Mustang. LOVE that car. LOVE. The driver is a really great guy. I went to the guy in charge of signing up for charity laps, and I got myself signed right up! Sadly, I couldn’t get in until Sunday afternoon, and I was not at my best. Worn out, and just after lunch. Add a face full of fumes, and I lasted four laps! But oh, they were four laps of heaven. We were alternately chased by and then chasing a GT40. Yow – music to my ears, both of them!

So there we were, late Sunday afternoon, slowly breaking down and packing up as the last DE sessions went out. For HPDE1 at 4:35, there was ONE car on the grid. I was on the radio all, “I think I’m going to take my car out on track in this DE1 session…” The response was “You need an instructor – good luck with that.” There happened to be an instructor standing not six feet away. listening to the whole thing. He said he’d go with me. “Got that covered, and grid-in is covered…” To my suprise, they said, “OK go for it!”

I had five minutes to track prep my car which had been sitting dead cold all day long. Of course I was up for it -Road Atlanta!!!! I would get out late in the session but even if I got ONE lap I was thrilled to do it! I went to start my car up and…..DEAD BATTERY. Yep. Left the defroster on and didn’t turn the key all the way off and several hours of that drained the battery so completely that it wouldn’t jump start. So I spent that last few minutes of DE1 pulling power off a kind friend’s battery to charge mine enough to get a start. Oh well – next time! I do like that they let workers get out on track when it can be arranged – I’ll be sure to keep that in mind in the future.

For my lunch break on Sunday, I ran over to the pro-side to check out my friend’s new race car. He had stopped at my spot on grid in his breathtaking midnight blue Cayman S, and I asked if he’d traded his 2000 996 for the Cayman. Silly me! This is his DD – his race car was in the paddock. This is the guy who crashed his “brand new” car late last season at Road Atlanta in the rain. By “brand new” I mean “recently completely refurbished and souped up.” He got lots of the guts out of the wrecked car, and got a new tub & chassis, and went to work. Or rather, his builder-buddy went to work.

The outcome is stunning. His car sounds like a ferocious howling beast on the track – awesome! He says he still has the passenger seat, and he’ll be sure to bring it in the trailer next season. This is the guy who gave me the nearly life-altering (in a good way) ride at Road Atlanta last year, and I’ve enjoyed keeping up with him and his progress. He’s left Georgia for Michigan, but this club is his home, and RA his home track. It was super fantastic to see him!

Of course, the very best part of the whole weekend came on Monday. I finished taking care of business with my mom by noon, and then it was off to Tucker to take my car to…Franz Blam Racing! I was due for an oil change, so I thought this would provide a good opportunity to have them meet my car. Lucky for me, they had time when I got there (Thomas had warned them I might be by Monday afternoon). I also had my new wireset in the car, and they made time to put that in for me as well. Finally, all the messing with my battery on Sunday had resulted in a couple of blown fuses which left my stereo inoperable. They tracked those down and replaced them for me. So when I left there late that afternoon, I was good to go!

I had no clue what all had to be undone and moved around to properly install my spark plug wires. It almost looked like it’d be as easy to drop the engine. Very tight in there. Of course, Franz knew his way around everything in there like the back of his hand, and he showed the tech how to twist things this way and that to use bendy tools and snake things around to get everything well-seated in there. Franz himself chased my electrical demons from the battery connections to the front of the car where the fuses are. I confess, it was pretty awesome to see THE FRANZ BLAM shoulder-deep in my engine bay.

The work took a few hours, and I brought what I needed to entertain myself – my laptop with broadband card, and a new book to read. There’s a nice seating area with a table and chairs and I was completely comfortable. But I ended up chatting with Connie (office manager) and Melvin (service manager?) off and on for much of that time. I made a few trips into the shop to watch the guys work, and to snap photos of all the pretty Porsches in there.

The drive home was great – it was a crisp, clear afternoon, and once I got past the Atlanta rush-hour log-jams, I was driving into a lovely sunset all the way. It was just dark when I got home, and I was tickled to see that my husband had begun stringing Christmas lights around the porch. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Turns out the Flying Lizards were at the 24 Hours of Thunder Hill over the weekend, I believe supporting the Team Mercer Motorsports bunch who came out victorious! I notice that Johannes van Overbeek was one of their drivers, and now I know what Thomas Blam was doing in California. Franz was so proud to tell me when I got to the shop on Monday. He has been pretty quiet around me – very kind and sweet, but kind of quiet. I had paid up and left the shop on Monday, and was standing in front of my car, going through the contents of my purse which I had dumped out on the hood (DON’T ASK). I didn’t realize he’d come out the front door, and I turned around to see him coming toward me, arms outstretched for a hug. What a sweetie!

Well I really enjoyed that car-centric weekend. Now time to focus on work things and family fun and all the rest. Hope you are happy and well, wherever you are!



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