Sunday, February 13, 2011

Where's The Parts ? And " Where's our rent car"??

It's Sunday,February 13th, we need to leave for Phoenix in three days,and we are still waiting on parts.  Only some "non-essential" stuff, like rear tires,rear axles and our clutch.  I really thought we would have the car on the ground by now.  We should be washing and waxing. We should be putting all of our tools in the trailer,making sure we have all of our supplies.  But no, were waiting on parts.  My being a partsman for the last 29 years, I have heard those words more than I care to remember. But I am still sure we can get this all together. It takes almost as long to write this blog as it will to set the clutch up and get it installed.  Not that much longer to mount the tires and install the brakes.  Well, almost. But anyway, if we get these parts by Tuesday, we should be good. It takes a lot of work to get ready for one of these trips without being held up on parts. The waiting gets you out of sync. We can't install the brakes because we don't have an axle,we can't make sure our new starter is set up right without a flywheel (and it is with the clutch), and if we did have all of that, we can't put the car down and roll it around without tires.  You get the picture. We are suppose to have it all by Tuesday and we can make that work.  Then, all we have to take care of is groceries and a new cooler.  My girlfriend  (Judy), says that our cooler is broken.  Do coolers just quit working ? I have never heard of that. It does not look broken, it has no visible damage, I don't think I believe this. But she says if we don't get a new cooler, well,  she's not going, so we're getting a new cooler! Like I said before, this racing can turn into a lot of work, and she is great help. She can't always go with us, because she has a job too.  I sure miss her when she is not there. She takes care of the motorhome, adds a feminine touch and smell, and puts out some little snacks, and some candles, and really pampers us.  When it is just Greg and I, it's more like a camping trip, so Im glad she is going.  And besides all that she does..  I love her company!
  Now, Im  pretty sure that Judy is not a descendant of Columbus, or Louis and Clark, or any of those other people who could find their way around. Let's just say she is very geographically challenged. One time, she went from Arlington to Dallas via WACO. Really???   So, we are at the racetrack on Thursday. That is the parking and setup day most of the time. At a lot of the tracks there is a "Test and Tune" on Thursday. A good time to test any new parts or setups, and do a little tuning. We don't always run on those days, but after a long winter we like to see "Where were at". This particular day, Greg and I have been going back and forth on whether we should make any runs or not. I went off roaming around somewhere thinking we were not going to make any passes that day. I do my visiting, or whatever, and I head back to our pit. The track announcer has been yacking all day, I don't really pay attention to what he saying most of the time, but I do hear him saying something about a "Halt" in the action because someone is on the racetrack. This is during alcohol funny car runs. These cars run in the 5 second @ 260 mph range. Well, someone is on the track, so they have to shut down- so what? I get back to the motorhome and Greg says "I sent Judy to enter us in this test and tune". I say " YOU DID WHAT ? !!"...YOU MEAN IN THE CAR ??  I have this sinking feeling in my gut. That announcement I heard, what was that? "Someone is on the top end of the racetrack during funny car testing" . Judy is gone in the car?  This can't be good.  Unfortunately, my suspicion's are correct..  JUDY IS ON THE RACETRACK!!! It seems she had a little trouble with her navigation skills again. Some very nice and understanding track personnel, finally got her attention and told her "Lady you're on the racetrack"! He ask her where she was trying to go and then said " Follow Me " and he escorted her to the tech shack to sign us up for test and tune, and then escorted her back to our pit. She said, " They were not happy about it, but were very understanding". But--- Greg and I are in a heap of trouble!!  Wait a minute, what did I do ?  This one should be on Greg, I am innocent!  Not in the eyes of a very mad woman.  I must be just as guilty, cause this woman is MAD !  My buddy Greg goes in the motorhome and holes up in his bedroom for a "Nap". Yeah right!  So I am left on my own, with one angry little girl.  Thanks Greg. He still thinks it's funny, and so do I, when I'm out of arms reach of Judy. Good fun times.
  After all of the excitement settled down, we made a couple runs .. If I remember right ,we went 6.67 and 6.68. Two really good runs for a "green track" that hasn't even been prepped by NHRA.  We should be good for Qualifying. We were good, we Qualified #1 and got to the semi-finals.  I had heard some not so good sounds coming from our starter the round before.  Man, these big ole 820 cubic inch engines are hard on starters. But, we dont have much time to change starters, and don't have a great spare either. It should live two more rounds. Besides, we have a bye in the semi-final, (odd number of cars or a broken competitor will give you a bye run). All we have to do is stage the car, take the tree, and we are in the final. In the staging lanes, Greg and I are concerned about this,but all we need is one more start and then we can address this before the final.  Well, of course, it won't start.  And you have to stage the car under it's own power.  A bunch of our competitor's come to our aid. I here someone say "Lets pushstart it'', well that doesn't work.  So we take off the front end so that I can "Jump the solenoid" - now I have a small fire. I said, maybe I could hit the starter with a hammer, and get it to bust off just one more time.  No one had a hammer, but someone gave me a broom that was at the starting line ( for small starting line cleanups). " Here, use this", he said.  Man, what is this made of ?  Lead ?  This is the heaviest broom I have ever held.  " JUST HIT IT " .  I raise the broom a little and  BAM , I whacked it.  No start. " HIT IT AGAIN " .   KA_BAM!!  Uh oh.  That last ka- bam broke the starter  in half , we are done now.  A bye into the final, GONE !  But, whats done is done. We start thinking ahead to Tuscon, which is in three days.  In Tuscon,with our "new" starter installed, we again qualify #1, still stinging from the heartbreak of losing the race in Phoenix because of a parts failure. Parts failure or crew chief failure, or a combination.  But,Greg always says " We win together and we lose together".   I heard Doug Herbert say one time, "That's why they call it Drag racing.  Cause sometimes it's a DRAG"!!
    Happy Valentines Day Judy.  I love you.

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