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Friday: Fred Switzer and I ran the 3hr enduro in my car.  My check engine light was on, but I disregarded it.  After about 5 laps my car started running like crap.  It sounded bad and the late shift points indicated that I was down on power.  After a couple more laps I could no longer blame my imagination and I came in to the pits.

Fred popped the hood.

Fred <yelling because it's loud as hell next to the straight-away I'm wearing a helmet>: “WHERE’S YOUR OIL CAP”

Scott <also yelling>: “F**K.  HOW THE HELL SHOULD I KNOW?”

Fred: “WHAT SHOULD I DO?”

Scott: “RUN TO YOUR CAR AND GET IT'S OIL CAP”.

5 minutes later I roared off with an oil cap and no check engine light. 

But I didn’t roar very far.  Even at 40mph in the pits the engine still sounded like crap. So before exiting the pits I took the last left into the paddocks double-backed to Fred.  He looked things over for another 5min but there wasn’t anything to be found. 

It was decision time.  Get back out there and race on a sick engine with no power, or do the smart thing and call it a day?

Scott: “F**K IT FRED, WE’RE RACING”.

The engine sounded awful and had no power. Kind of like a Miata. But the motor didn’t seem to be tearing itself up, so I figured I’d take my low power motor and learn how to be a momentum driver.

15min later someone insisted on divebombing me unexpectedly on 8.  “For chrissakes it’s an enduro and you’re not even in my class.  I’d a let you by” I thought at him with significant enthusiasm.  Being force wide from the apex threw me wide on exit.  I hit the gators hard and rattled my fillings.

I managed, surprisingly, to hold it together and get back on the track without drama.  And suddenly I was faster.  And the engine seemed to sound ok.  I wasn’t sure at first.  “Maybe I’m just used to the sick sound”, I thought.  And then I started over-cooking corners.  My braking points were all wrong.  “Ah hah, I’m heading into corners faster because the power is back”.  “WOOOHOOOO”.

I came in at 55min for driver change.  Fred was half dressed and seemed to have lost his sense of purpose.

Fred: <someone laconically> “So what do you want to do”?

Scott: “FOR CHRISSAKES! WE’RE GOING DUDE. GET IN THE CAR. THE ENGINE’S FIXED.”

And off Fred went.  Once he got dressed.

An hour later Fred came in it was my turn again.

A couple months ago JP showed me a new way to take the kink.  If you hop the inside gators very aggressively, there is a spot that doesn’t upset your car much.  But you have to hit it just right.  With JP’s technique I could sometimes steel myself to going thru the kink flat. 

But more often then not I didn’t get it just right.  And by the time you start thinking that “this might not be right”, you’re totally committed.  At that point all you can do is hope for the best.  On one such lap I ran out of luck and talent and didn’t manage the car well after a particularly upsetting hop/lurch over the gator bump.  Next thing I knew I was sideways watching the trees go by at >100mph.  That was worrisome. 

But the car stayed shiny-side up and didn’t wrap itself around a tree so back on the track I roared.

Saturday’s race.

My qual time was about a second off of my best work, but still got me 10th out of 18.  For me, starting mid-pack is like practically an honor so I had no frustrations.  Well, ok, the fact that 30 seconds into the race I’d been passed by 6 others was indeed a little frustrating.  I’m not sure what exactly happened at the start.  I was oriented on the guys in front of me and watching for something to exploit.  I stayed right on their asses.  Which is when 6 cars behind me were fired out of a cannon and passed my ass.

I clearly remember Laura Patton 10mph faster and flying by me on the inside, and me wondering “how the f**k did she do that”?

After turn 7 I settled in behind Steve Foushee and began a death struggle that would last most of the race.  I’d catch up to him at each turn exit, get right on his bumper, only to see him walk away.  He did it turn after turn, lap after lap.  I’d be 2 car lengths back going into the turn, carefully give the turn my best effort, come out of it with 1-2mph advantage and catch up to his bumper at turn exit.  And then he’d leave me. 

“Ok”, I figured, “I’m just going to have to hope he makes a mistake”.  He made some small mistakes and he took some defensive turn entries to keep me from divebombing.  So I was able to capitalize a couple times and pull up even with him.  Which is when he’d just drive away.

“Ok”, I figured, “I’m just going to have to hope he makes a big mistake”.  Which is when he did.  But for the life of me I can’t remember the circumstances.

At one point in the race I got bump-drafted (or whatever you call it) by a Miata.  He was all hot to get around me, but I was in a death struggle with Foushee and the Miata was going to have to wait a minute before I could let him by.  This past year I’ve read a lot of posts about folks bump-drafting and, frankly, the idea of being intentionally bumped at 100mph scared the shit out of me. I’d resolved the when the day occurred I had to be sure to go take a couple deep breaths, let the fear induced adrenalin subside, so I wouldn’t react like a raging axe-murderer and kill the MF**ker.

Which made it somewhat surprising that, immediately after being bumped a little closer to Foushee, my reaction was “YA DUDE, BUMP ME AGAIN”.

At another point in the Foushee death-struggle we were heading into 14 with something fast on my tail.  I tried to set up 14 such that the guy wouldn’t dive bomb me (hosing turn 14) and would instead pass both of us on the straight.  So as usual I came out of 14 with a little more speed and caught up to Steve’s bumper. He drove away from me again. But the fast guy passed us both and that hosed up Steve’s turn 1 entry.  I tried to exploit it by taking at outside line in 1 but I couldn’t hold it together and went off track.

Once in the dirt I looked for the tower but it was already behind me.  So I did the next best thing and took a shortcut from turn 1 to turn3 and tucked right back in behind Steve.

Sunday’s race.

The car started up with two red lights on the dash.  Check Engine and a Brake.  “Uh, oh”, I thought.  I figured that if I had power I’d ignore the Check Engine light.  And if I had brakes I’d ignore the Brakes light.  I’d just bled the brakes a couple hrs prior and they were nice and firm.  My plan was that, after a lap, if my brakes were still braking and my engine was still engining, I’d ignore the lights.

I was determined to prevent a repeat of Saturday’s “pass-me-because-I’m-pathetic” start.  My qual time was once again mediocre and this time landed me 11 out of 16.  But when the big boys decided to start in the rear I was suddenly 7th

This time at the start I put a few brain cells on duty watching my rear.  Flying towards turn 1, I saw greed in the eyes behind me and I shifted the car over a little to make humiliating me a little more problematic.

There was a buffer of cars between me and the big boys back there.  I really hadn’t given much thought to them.  I figured they’d pass me early on and there’d be no drama.  I’d just let them by to battle their own battles.  What I didn’t expect is for them to be all over my shit within seconds of race start.  The big boys were coming thru traffic like madmen. Travis was on me at the exit of 4 so I finished 4 tight to give him the inside of 5.  I had to make that adjustment so unexpectedly that being a Travis-width off the apex of 5 was going to have unpleasant consequences re. hanging on to the track at the off-camber turn 5 exit.

In pretty much every race I’ve been shoved (to the extent that you can be shoved without actually being touched) off of the track in the first couple of turns.  It’s gotten to the point where I might as well not qual because within 30secs of race start I’m going to be in the dirt watching the pack stream by.

And here I was 30secs into the race and in the dirt again.  I couldn’t even stay on the gators.  I was in the dirt and not happy.  I was gonna fight for it goddamn it.  I stayed on the gas, did my goddamn level best, and somehow I held it together and got back on the track.

Somehow, in all of that, I blocked out JP which apparently hosed his race with Skeen.  But all I remember is looking behind me at the approaching madmen while at the apex of 4 and thinking “Jesus Christ”. Then I tried to let Travis get inside on 5 and thought “Jesus Christ”.  Then I sensed that I wasn’t going to stay on the track at turn 5 exit and thought “Jesus Christ”.  Then I was in the dirt thinking “Jesus Christ”.  Then I was back on the track having lost only a couple places thinking “Jesus Christ”.  So when JP later said “Scott, dude, you blocked me out at the carousel”. I had no response more useful then “huh?”

I do recall getting whacked at right rear. I think that's just JP's way of saying "hello".

I exited turn 7 on Laura’s tail.  And another death-fight began.  We were very evenly matched. The only place I had an edge was turn 4, but if I tried to do anything with that my turn 5 would be such an abortion that anything could happen.  So stayed on her tail, did the best I could at each turn and waited for an opportunity to develop.

A couple opportunities almost did.  I managed to get into a couple of turns with her in a dead heat and, showing courtesy that not everyone would show, she gave me room to get it done if I could.  But each time I was too damn fast into the turn and I couldn’t hold it together.  And Fred Switzer was right on our ass the whole time so if one of my pass attempts went really bad, he was going to swoop on me. 3X I went into the dirt because of an aborted pass attempt and barely made it back on to the track in time to keep Fred back.

Finally I got Laura, but sadly I can’t remember the details.  Then I worked on catching up to Joe Tripp but I ran out of laps.

One bitch.  On the last turn of the race, the very last turn, I went in conservatively because there were no E30’s within range so it was all over.  The red 350z interprets my conservative turn-entry as an opportunity to dive-bomb me and I had to suddenly veer away from the apex to give him room.  That threw me hard into the turn 14 exit gators and he took the checker.  That was completely unnecessary.

Sadly my video of the weekend was hosed.  My front camera wasn’t putting out signal so all I have is hours of picture-in-picture of driver and rear-view on a blue background.

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