An Alien Invades the Top Rung of the Pyramid!!!
The time is finally here. Top tier on the Pyramid of Speed. The NASA weekend at Motorsport Ranch in Cresson will be my first wheel to wheel race. No more point to pass, no more passing only on the straights. It's gonna be fun. On the Wednesday before the event, after a good few weeks of placing the order, I finally get the last of my stickers from my sticker guy (that I won't be using again). Get them put on and Knocker finally looks like a real racer. Laura and I leave Houston early in the day on Friday with the Ranger pulling Knocker. Definitely not the ideal setup having to constantly turn off the A/C at each hill so not to completely strain the little truck. But after the long and uneventful trip, we pull into the gates at MSR. We park and unload. Get my spec TOYO RA1 tires from Brian L. (CMC2 4th gen) that I ordered and had taken to MSR to save me shipping. Just need to get registered, teched, tires mounted and had plenty of time to do it. Nick arrives signed up for HPDE1 and pits next to us. We install my old Kirkey seat that I used for passengers into his car. We register, tech, and I head off to a "close" NTB to get the tires mounted on my loose GTA rims. Well, it's a bit further than it looks on a map. We pull in to NTB with a few minutes to spare. The sales guys tell us that they can't do it tonight because they are fully booked up. Ummm... no. Having worked at NTB before, I ask for the manager knowing they can't say that. Once he actually goes to the truck and sees what I'm asking for (no dismounting of old tires, wheels are loose), his attitude changes. No problems after that. Whew. Tip the tire tech, stop by Target to grab some water and Gatorade and we're off to the hotel.
Bright and early (and cold!) Saturday morning at the track, I swap on the new tires. This is my FIRST new set of tires for Knocker evar! They're so gooey and soft. Nick arrives (with Cody still sleeping in the passenger seat) and we're off to our respective drivers meetings. The CMC crowd is one of the first groups to go out for practice. Saturday has a practice, qualifying and two 20 minutes races. Fire up Knocker to get the juices flowing for a good 10 minutes. Suit up. Wait until most of the cars are gridded and get strapped in. Belts tight, steering wheel locked on, window net up, let's go. Put the car in reverse, back up and... I stall it. Crap. It won't restart. Cody and a passerby push it back to my space. Laura pulls the Ranger around and Cody grabs the jumper cables. Va-room! It's nice having a pit crew. I line up in grid and they start sending cars on track. Awaaaaay we go! This is my first time on this track. During the warm up lap, I'm trying to get visual clues of the course, wave to corner workers, get some heat in the tires and brakes. We come around for the green, I floor it and... blah. No power whatsoever past 3k rpm. Dive quickly to pit road as I don't want to stop on course on my very first session with these guys and cause a yellow flag. I didn't even make a full lap. I pull back to my paddock spot and Cody is ready to do some diagnosing. Turn off the car and the battery is dead. It's not getting recharged. We poke around for a minute and discover the nut on the back of the alternator for the wire that charges the battery is missing! I grab my bag of random 3rd gen bolts and we find one that fits. Jump the car again just as the rest of the CMC guys are taking the checker for the end of the session. I'm just happy that the fix was easy.
Qualifying is my first real session on track. I'm planning on staying out the entire session to try learn the track. Did you know that the corner workers actually call it in if you are loose or are drifting around a corner? It took me a lap or two to get my entry speed into rattlesnake slow enough not to be sliding around. I qualify... last with a 1:33.8. No surprise. As a rookie, I have to start at the back of the field for the first 4 races anyways. The start of the first race, wow, what a view. I almost forget to nail the gas as I'm watching the field go 3-4 wide at the drop of the green flag. My main goal for the weekend is to stay out of trouble and out of the leaders way. I feel so much more comfortable with these guys passing me than I did during my HPDE sessions. If you leave room on the inside of a corner, there is no hesitation in that the guy WILL pass you. I try to follow the line of any car that passes me and have a great front row seat to see some serious racing. There was even a time or two when I heard Harry from Days of Thunder in my head "You can drive right though it!" But instead of tire smoke, it was dirt kicked up from someone going 2/4 off. Pretty uneventful for me as I couldn't keep up with the group. It was mostly just getting passed by the American Iron cars and the CMC leaders. Sunday consists of a qualifying session and a 40 minute race. After qual, NASA holds a 1 1/2 hour enduro race. Rege and JP from XPel motorsports are entered wik a kick-ass looking Spec Racer Ford. At the last minute, I lended a hand during their one and only pit stop/refueling/driver change. They finished 2nd overall. During the 40 for CMC, I get my time down to a 1:29.7. It was a good weekend overall. Main thing is I drove Knocker back onto the trailer. Next event, TWS!
Awesome shot of Nick in Alamo at the track!