“Do it no matter what…..if you do have a passion, an honest passion, just do it . . .” – Mario Andretti
The Lotus, the Tire Wall, & a Lady Retires
Four days at track! Count them baby….Yeah: One, two, three AND four! Now watch me Nae Nae. Yo.
Indeed. After the chafing at Road Atlanta, it was a soothing balm for the soul being back on my home turf: the verdant splendor and rolling hills at Virginia International Raceway.
Gradually our group of Track Monkeys drifted in Friday night, with the usual suspects Tex, Greenfrog and BP getting there first. By the next day, SemperFi with his 997 turbo and my favorite cousin in the whole WIDE WORLD, VTechpower with his Lotus Elise joined the ranks. Saturday, I started first session in blue, solo. All day I worked on carrying more speed and was consistently able to stay over 110 in the straights without barfing. My old instructor Mr.Pink saw me out there and we agreed on a check ride for solo in Trackdaze Yellow.
Starting out in Blue with Trackdaze was painful: it was crowded and slow and I was passing cars. That is usually a sign that I’m ready to move up. After passing the check ride and moving into Yellow, I felt more on top of my game. Still slow, but not involuntarily so.
Sunday morning, the Track Monkeys took a few moments for a photo op. We knew that we were the luckiest people on Earth that day.
On Monday, I passed my check ride for solo in green with Chin, and was given a yellow wristband.
Towards the end of the day, a thunderstorm struck. Raindrops the size of tea cups ran rivers of puddles. Because of the lightening, the track closed down.
When it blew over, there were only 30 minutes left for the end-of-day Chin happy hour.
Most of the drivers had found the beer on tap in the Sonic Tools trailer. Only a few cars went out. I wanted to practice with my tires in the wet. About twenty minutes into it, as I drove downhill, Bianca’s tail spun left coming into turn 17 B (aka Hog Pen). I felt it immediately, and reacted to correct the wheel, but my input was insufficient.
When I looked up I saw the tire wall.
I remember thinking I had to move my eyes to where I wanted the car to be, and shifting my gaze to the asphalt. She spun a double 360, and it wasn’t until I was back on the asphalt that I remembered “two feet in”. On Tuesday I drove. Also in the rain. By 2pm, I had logged 9+ hours on track in four days. I was spent.
I didn’t know it just then, but a part of me had decided to retire my sweet lovely 911 from track. I asked a stranger to take a few photos, then I packed up my car.
Arriving home, the puppies were excited to see me. One of the kids was fixing a Velveeta cheese dip. I found evidence of attempts at laundry. While I pondered dinner, my Big T walked in. It was good to be home.
I can’t imagine what it will be like without Bianca. She has been the force that connected me to track driving. Right now, she is sitting in the garage smudged with track dirt and a bit of residual glue from racers tape. I have not yet unloaded her completely. I am in the process of finding a replacement track car. She has to retire, but I cannot.
Back when I started out, I remember someone saying “Your little white 911 is the best teacher you’ll ever have on track.”