Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Procrastination? Yeah, I've heard of that.

I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post.  Time has really flown.  But that's no excuse.  I've  got to post more often.  I apologize.  Now I've got some catching up to do.  In the last month we have been to Houston and back,then to Dallas and back, and then to Houston again.  Running up and down Hwy 287, and the Autobahn or as we call it. " I-45"! That interstate flows pretty fast and can be kinda fun,even in a Freightliner motorhome. We finally started this season in Houston "Baytown" officially. So that's where I'll start.
  Tuesday, March 1st :  I'm in the shop, getting things ready to go.  This rig hasn't been out of the shop since November,so I'm checking everything one last time.  Filling the water tank, checking inspection sticker (expired),license tags,tires etc..  Make a grocery list.  Check for plates,cups towels and all that other domestic stuff you have to have.  Then, back out to the trailer,just to straighten up a bit, put all the tools away and put stuff away in the trailer attic.  To get my stuff up to the attic I'll use the lift.  Going down with the lift, all was good. I started back up and , Hmm, this thing sounds kinda weak, I hope the batt- oh no! Oh crap it is.  I HATE BATTERIES!!!!!   I just checked the water in these batteries a couple  of weeks ago, they were fine.  Well, they Ain't fine now.  This normally would not be a big deal, but these batteries are under a cabinet, way back in a dark corner. You have to crawl completely under this counter with no room to spare, I'm tellin ya it's tight.  I told them how I felt," exactly how I felt ".  And then crawled myself up under there and got those "witches" out.

                         There they are...    JUST look at em!
                   I know they're just little helpless chunks of plastic and lead.  But I loath these things and there are
                seven more of these #$@!$ things in this rig.

Anyway,  I owe a thanks to Brandon Bass.  He is a technician in our shop and he charged them up,tested them and said they were good and I had better look for another problem.

                                       Thanks Brandon.

 Turns out, it was the battery charger that had gone bad, that was easy. Back in business! We got everything loaded up.

                          And we're ready to roll!

 On this trip it will be Greg and I and Dale Davis.  I'm glad Dale is going, it's always nice to have a third hand and Dale has been with us several times and he knows our program ,which  makes things much more fun.
 We get in the truck and go a whole 10 miles and it's time to eat.  Taco's Garcia on the way out of town. Excellent!!!

 When we came out of the restaurant our friend Brent was waiting by the motorhome.  He said "when I saw a rig like this parked illegally in front of a Mexican food restaurant I knew it was y'all."

  Then we go over to a trailer repair shop to let the repair man access the damage from a previous encounter with a gas pump.  Yes, that's correct.  That's another story I will save for later. Now we're finally going down the road.  We get to Decatur,this is one of our "cheap gas" stops.  A penny saved is a penny earned I guess.

                                   This was a bargain unfortunately.      
 We got our fuel,some bread,a few bags of ice and no onion. Swell.  Another great thing about Dale Davis I forgot to mention is, He will drive the bus! 

                                               He are cool.

 I usually take the late night to wee hours in the morning shift.  You don't see a lot of the scenery that way but you can really knock down some miles at night.  Just put on the Ipod and roll, I love it.  I started
driving somewhere south of Corsicana and ended at the Cracker barrel in Baytown.  Cracker Barrel restaurants  have R.V. parking in the back, which is very nice about 3:30 AM.  Get a little sleep and roll out for breakfast.

                         And we made a deal with our waitress for an onion.

                                      Now, we can have hot dogs.  Can't have hot dogs without fresh chopped onion. Now all that we have left to do is fuel again and a truck wash, then to the track.  We get to the track and get our credentials, the staff takes us to our parking spot, we open the trailer and geeze, I guess the ride was not  so smooth after all.

                                     Not a scratch. Wheew!!!

                           Now it's time to go through tech, we have to pass tech at each race. They just make sure your safety equipment is certified and up to date.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Now just a little routine stuff like calibrating our O2 sensors and balancing our new tires.
  And filling Judy's new cooler.  Which came with two rules, no sitting on the cooler and no standing on the cooler.  The funny part is that this cooler cost  $150.00.  Those of you who know Greg know that's funny!  That's real funny.

                                                                That's a nice 'en!

With all of the domestic's and car maintenance taken care of  it's time for some dinner and a good nights sleep.Qualifying starts in the morning.
   Top Sportsman is the class that we are competing in, this class is a qualified field (some classes are all run), but ours is a qualified field.  Only 32 cars will be in the race on Sunday,  the quickest 32 cars after qualifying.
The race is actually a "bracket" race  or "dial-in" race.  We have to predict the elapsed time the car is going to run and write that number on the car, that is our dial-in.  This is done to make a level playing field.  In sportsman racing this is necessary to give each competitor a chance to win.  Most of these guy's are just working people, some are small business owners and this is their hobby.  Without handicap or dial racing only the richest would win and the rest would be forced to quit.  Unlike the professional racers,  there is not a lot of corporate sponsorship for these cars.  It's  backpocket sponsorship for most of these guys.  So like it or not shoepolish (dial-in) racing is necessary. Heads- up racing is definitely more exciting to watch but cost prohibitive to most.  You wouldn't enjoy golf if you were paired with Phil Mickelson and expected to win.
 The announcement is made for Top Sportsman to report to the staging lanes for our first qualifying run.
  I took this picture in the staging lanes Friday morning, the camaro there is Earl Folse,  we have been racing with Earl for quite a few years now and is a very good friend of mine.  I also see Bert Prejean in front of him,he has also been a great friend to Greg and I.  That's Bert in the black t-shirt and red pants leaning on the golf cart, huffing on Hedi. The people we race with are like family, we all love the same thing and love to share that passion with each other.  Great folks, Good friends!
  It's time to qualify and we have drawn the left lane for our first run.  During the burnout I was thinking that the engine did not sound great, but sometimes they don't sound as good as other times.  To late to do anything anyway.  Greg staged the car, the tree came down and boom he is gone, the car is in the middle of the groove which is good but does not make it's usual move in third gear.  Usually the car really busts a big move in third gear,  sometimes I think it may" hyperspace " but not this time.  I thought we may have been light on the clutch but Greg said the clutch felt fine.  We tow back to the trailer to check things out.  We downloaded the run from our onboard data recorder and see that cylinder #3 was not firing.  We checked the plug wire,rocker arm and pushrod and found no problems.  Then we changed the spark plug on that cylinder and that fixed it.  I have always heard of bad spark plugs but this is the first one I have actually seen  myself.
So the first run was not very good, 7.05 @ 195 mph . Not good, but in the show.  We should run a lot better the next pass.  On the second pass the engine was hitting on all eight and sounded great.  We were in the right lane this time and when Greg let the clutch out the front end came way up and the car made a move for the center line, he had to lift and abort that run.  So no improvement.  Well there's always tomorrow.  Tomorrow came with excessive wind, cold and rain.  Did I mention blowing cold rain. Nasty!  Most people stayed in their motorhomes all day.  All racing was scrapped for that day,  which means qualifying is over and the fields were set.  Not good for us since we wasted  the two runs yesterday.  So now the delima.  Do we just dial off of our records?  Yeah we keep records.  Or screw the bad plug back in and dial off of yesterdays first run?
Hmmm, I ponder.  After a lot of point- counterpoint discussion we decide to try to dial with the bad plug installed.   Engine builders close your eyes and ears.  But we tried it and we were not successful.  Busted first round.  The agony of defeat.  Sure weather played a role, but we were all dealt the same hand.
So we loaded up the truck and headed home so we can do it again next week.  Remember what I told you before "That's  why they call it "Drag Racing".  This time it wound up being a drag.

1 comment:

  1. Boy did that remind me about past battery issues. Made me laugh!!!