Wow. What an awesome weekend and we landed on the podium!!!! I’ll get to that part but obviously every great story has to have a beginning. Lets start there instead of me trying to pull a Tarantino on you.
Race week for us starts off about the same way every time at this point. Car has been fully prepped for a couple weeks and the last thing it needs is a good wax before loading it in the trailer. Yep I’ll admit it. I like my car to be very clean for the start line. So a good wash and loading the trailer commences. All the tools, spares and food stuffs is in the trailer by Wednesday mid day and the car goes in next. Completely ready to roll that evening.
Now we like to show up early just in case the org needs some extra bodies for marking and we don’t like feeling rushed. I meet my Co Driver and Crew Chief at the last Maverick station before we leave the valley and its pedal to the metal all the way to the track. We end up landing in Vernal Utah at about 4 and head straight for the track.
At the track we find our spot and it is an amazing little spot with power and water right on the pit. Seriously can’t thank Uitna County enough they are very amazing hosts. Start setting up and before I’m even unhooked here comes our good buddy and competitor Eric to start the smack talk. I heard him coming form 5 spots over talking about there them slow boys are. I love Eric; he’s fun and he’s fast and don’t tell him I said this but he’s kinda decent with the smack talk. I’m better obviously (just in case he reads our race reports I can’t let him have the upper hand going into our Jackpot race.
Despite the interruption we are setup and ready to help the organization; they didn’t need anything. After checking with them it was off to town. Not often are our races close to town so when they are I like to support the community and experience the local culture. For me that means finding the local brewery and we did just that. If you are ever in Vernal Utah you owe it to yourself to get their Red Ale and the tacos. They were twice as delicious as they look.
Back to camp for the traditional stand around and chat with all the friends you dearly missed since the last race and then off to bed. Probably much later than we should have but that is part of the fun. Waking up mid morning to the sounds of snarling v8s and the smell of race gas we learned that we had some of the big boy trucks join us that morning and the hot pits were starting to look like a real race was about to happen. Minor details handled on the car and just little things that we do once its on the ground at the car and then we grab our safety gear and a couple of beers for the tech inspector and we are off to tech. Let me clarify I don’t bribe my way thru tech. The guy running tech is a volunteer and I know he likes a beer.
After tech we hang out until the guided prerun and we get our first look at the course. Its fast. Lots of straights and hard bank turns with plenty of Gotchas to catch the unsuspecting. 17.5 miles and 7 laps. Its gonna be fun and I guessed at the time right at 3 hours behind the wheel. Prerun behind us we top the car off with fuel give it a final once over and do our sit down with the whole team.
In the random draw we got lucky. 3rd off the line starting at 7am. 1 minute intervals between cars and we only had 2 people making dust in front of us. Up early and into the suit. This is where I get anxious. Nervous energy causing my heart to race. I probably look like a crazy person bouncing around. Crank some of my favorite tunes to help focus some of that anxiety but that only gets worse when the helmet goes on and then only gets even worse when we slide into our spot and wait for the start.
FINALLY the green flag drops and all the anxiety is gone. Once the visor closes its time to go to work and I am cool calm and ready. Mike on the other hand was still amped. It was his first time taking the flag. One previous race he had jumped in for a single lap but that is different than taking the green and going the whole distance. You could hear the excitement in his voice when he yelled at me after our first turn to open it up.
Lap one was a lot of fun. Mike and I go back and forth about what I wanna hear and when and we even get our first pass that ends up pushing us into 2nd physically on course. Only took us 5 miles to catch that car with a 1 minute lead. A nice young lady was driving that car and they didn’t see us on their bumper. Mike chose right when I wanted the siren to start messing with his visor. Needless to say the adrenaline had me yelling at him but we got the pass in classic form.
Lap two and three was uneventful according to our spotters at the start finish we were gaining on our next guy but not quickly. Mike and I had settled into sync with each other and it was time to just cover some ground. We lapped a couple sportsman class cars and our buddy James Moore got around us. Damn he’s fast but he broke out shortly after coming by us.
Lap four we started to lap a limited car that was kicking up a lot of dust and trying to round him in a corner he turned into our rear tire causing some pretty good contact and bending our rim. I thought we lost a radius rod or broke a shock spring and just sent it till the pits. It slowed us down a bit but we were able to run 16 miles on a flat and only loose 5 min off the pace.
Coming into start of lap 5 we pitted for fuel and to figure out what that issue was and our crew had us in and out in 1:45 amazing pit work by the team. We lost lap position on that stop with two limited class cars we had to repass but we got back in front of them quickly and were into our lap 5.
Towards the end of lap 5 we were told we didn’t get the full 5 gallons of fuel we needed to finish because the car burped. We opted to pit again and get a couple more gallons. Again in and out in record time. Running on a new tire and plenty of fuel we get hard into the belt and start trying to make up time.
Lap 6 was uneventful with just more pushing. Start of the final lap we are told there is someone gaining on us and we decide we don’t wanna loose the track position and our clean air so we go hammer down as hard as we can. IF hes gonna take our clean air hes gonna have to earn it. We saw him on a couple switch backs but he never got close enough to give us the siren and we didn’t let off. It was about then we found out we were the physical leader on course as the guys in front of us had broken out.
Starting lap 7 we had no idea how much time we needed to keep us on the podium from the corrected time guys behind us we laid into it even more. A limited class car got in front of us and we were stuck for minute. Tried to step out behind him twice and almost took out a steel pipeline sign to one side and a ditch to the other. At this point I made the decision to give him a nudge because he clearly wasn’t letting us by like a sportsman would. I got close enough too make the tap and when I did I caught a blast of clean air and could see a hole so I took it.
We pushed hard to the finish. With only a couple miles left we were radioed that we were 2nd place on time and they couldn’t tell me how much time we needed to make up. Being the physical race leader is hard spot to be in. I can gauge distance to dust in front of me and see how hard I need to push. When you got the wide open in front of you and just be faster comes over the radio its hard to know what that means. So we sent it.
We finished well. First across the line and even out ran the time keeper a bit as they missed us with the checkers cause we showed up earlier than anticipated. The next two cars to cross had managed to make up enough time on corrected to bump us into third place. WHICH we are very excited for as it is our first podium finish as a team. Third place is nothing to scoff at and knowing full well we could have made up that time if we hadn’t lost the tire to the class 9 car that tried the pit maneuver just sends us into overdrive ready for the next race. We have seen the box and now we want the top of it!!!!!
Oh did I mention with this finish we are now the season points leader 🙂 not bad for a rookie driver and rookie team.
Big thank you to everyone who helped us get here.
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