SCCA SOLO II NATIONAL TOUR, WALNUT RIDGE ARKANSAS
It started on Friday morning. Early. Very early. Way too early. It was 0500 and I was already getting on IH35 northbound out of San Antonio. In the BHD (Big Honkin Diesel) pulling the trailer as the forecast was rain in AR for the tour and the B4C can't carry me and my gear and 4 dry tires and 4 wet tires. Taking the trailer meant I can take the golf cart and golf cart trailer (which holds the rains and jack/tools to go to grid) and relatively insured that it would not rain at the event. To further pad the no-rain issue I Rain-Xed the B4C when I did the BHD and BHT. So it was 0900 when I pulled into a mall in East Dallas and met Countryman to deliver the complete corvette rearend he bought earlier in the week and I hauled up there. After that 10 minute stop I was eastbound on 30 with Texarkana in front of me. I made decent time and got through Texas and into Arkansas easily and up to Little Rock and then off the interstate heading NE towards Hoxie/Walnut Ridge. I pulled in well before 1700 (registration start time) and unloaded in the spot that the others (Todd, Stroh, Nick, Hunter, Tye, Frank...all TAMSCCers) had saved for me. Love those 11 hour road trips! Got unloaded and registered and tech'ed and had the chance to walk to course several times. It was remarkably like the course we just had the week prior at the TAMSCC event! I mean, 90% of the course was the same!
Checked into the Old Hickory Motel and they gave me my key (a key...a real key...metal, with little notches cut in it, not a credit card!!!) and Nick and Frank and I unloaded. Just for grins Nick turns on the TV and I'll be damned if they don't have Speed and we are elated. I even found a WiFi and didn't have to fire up the Sprint Card! After a good night's rest we got up and headed to the site early. Walked the course and since FStock ran first, headed to grid. I was first FS car out and drove like poo. It may have LOOKED like the course last week but it was a touch tighter and although the surface LOOKED like the annex, it was much less grippy. I overshot all kinds of corners and generally did poor. After the first runs I was barely mid-pack. Second run (with a little more air in the tires) brought my time down some, but I was still off the leader, who was driving a, gasp, Mustang! So I sit back and watch some runs and get kinda chapped that I am doing poorly. I hauled this car 700 miles to NOT win? I don't think so. Time to really evaluate the driving and I came up with the fact that I was overdriving the course. Time to act like I was on a less-grippy surface and attack with smoothness. The top time so far was a 47.5 and I just KNEW the B4C had a 46 in her. So I launched on my last run of the day and talked to myself the whole time about how we are going to run this 46 and I was as smoothly aggressive as I could be and when I hit the traps and looked over, damn, a 46.9. I jumped into first place while everyone else slowed down. Looking at the results, I was the ONLY person who went faster on their third run. The Mustang ended up 2nd for the day and then another Camaro and then Frank and then Nick. Frank loved his first run, but like most everyone, he could not get in a faster time as the runs progressed. I think that was pretty telling that this course didn't like open aggression. Todd and Stroh ran 2nd heat and Todd had the lead, then Hunter and Tye ran with Hunter edging Tye for the day. We worked fourth heat and then got cleaned up and back to the site for the Hollis Hilton gathering (Andy was winning, and won his class that weekend). From there we went to the dinner/party/t-shirt buy-a-thon (ask Stroh/Drew).
Back at the hotel, I posted some results and we watched the first 10 laps of the F1 race from Australia before going to sleep. As the lights went out, we could hear the thunder rolling across the sky. The next day would be a long one but I slept good and woke up ready to finish the job, rain or not. We got out to the event at 0630 to a lot of wind and some dark clouds but no rain. I confidently left the rains in the trailer, in their bags. We walked the course a few times and gridded up. I had a .6 lead on the field, and the second place Mustang had a Camaro .02 behind him. In order to win, one of those cars had to beat me by the .602 today to claim victory. I laid down a 47.6 first run and felt like it was poo. The course got slower as it finished and I got greedy and really pooched the end. I went and told Kent (the Mustang driver) to attack the first section for all he was worth, but back off for the ending. He did that, but still finished .1 behind me. After the first runs, I still had the lead for Sunday. A quick mental chat and run two dropped me to a 47.3. I was upset as I did the finish much better but messed up on the outbound leg into the slalom. After all the 2nd runs, I still had the lead for the day by a few tenths. So far so good. Third run saw me go a touch slower than my first run and I was not happy with myself. I ran decent, but got too greedy and overpushed (like I was telling myself not to) and slowed down. It was now in the hands of the other two drivers. Both slowed down also. I won the Tour by .739 as the Camaro slipped by Kent by .2. The results were Camaro (me), Camaro, Mustang (Kent, in an 03 Mach 1), Camaro (Frank...in the last trophy spot), Mustang (a Bullitt), Camaro (Nick) and then Mustang, Camaro, Mustang, Mustang. Everyone was very nice and we all talked on grid as we sat in impound with a front wheel off. It was great to meet Kent and his family and all the FS drivers. Hopefully some will show up at the Houston Tour in a few weeks. I also got the chance to meet and talk with Sam Strano and that was very nice. He 2-day aired me a fresh auburn earlier in the week that I had installed on Wednesday night (then loaded Thursday night, then left Friday morning!) and I have bought some stuff from him before and we had chatted many times. It was great to put a face with the voice on the phone and we chatted many times over the weekend about suspension stuff and driving. Super nice guy! He also won ESP in his Camaro that weekend!
The battle in SS had Hunter and Tye (in Hunter's Z06) struggling with the lack of grip. Although they were on new 710s, I think they both had problems with the surface looking like the annex but with only 90% the grip. It was Tye's third time in the car and he actually beat Hunter the second day but not by enough to get around him overall. CP had Todd putting the hurt on everyone with Stroh ending up a missed shift away from second place, and snagging the last trophy spot for third. All in all, 7 TAMSCCers went and we brought home 4 trophies. Not bad. Full results are here.
We rolled fast after we worked the last heat. Some very nice lady gave me my trophy and a handshake when I stopped in on my way from working the course. She took pity on my 700 mile drive home and shook my hand and 'presented' me my plaque. I got home at 0330 on Monday morning, patted the dogs on the head, kissed the wife and was asleep at 0332.
This trip produced (as usual) TONS of stories. Ask Stroh about his shifting, Frank about his flyby, Nick about the Solstice, Todd about leakers on his grid, Zach (SPOKES) about his hail, Mindy (SPOKES) about her first trophy, Tye about the local bar scene, Hunter about 'whose on top' and Drew (SPOKES) how many t-shirts he perused. Good times, good times. <grin>
Above: Hunter's Z06, Todd's CP ride, Nicks Pewter Z28(back and left) and Miss B4C (in white, next to the trailer).
Above: This dropped in. Totally awesome. It IS an airport course...
Above: Boost buggy sporting 315s all around. This thing launched evil!
Above: Enclosed, yet still visible. Cool.
Above: The FS grid. 7 cars and 10 drivers. Having the lowest number (13) I went first. I had the oldest and highest mileage car in FS easily!
Above: A spectacularly evil tube frame EM car. The fabrication was incredible!
Above: Todd and Stroh's CP ride.
Above: Nick was seen drooling over this car every time it went by...
Above: Speaking of Nick, here he is!
Above: Yes please! Note Strano sticker!!!
Above: Speaking of Strano, here he is! Photo pirated from here.
Above: Todd. Wearing a blue vest. That matches his blue shirt. When did that guy get color coordinated????
Above: The SS machine!
Above: Try and find the car!
Above: Heading out from grid to course. Time to play!
(sporting my Strano sticker, naturally!)
Next stop: SCCA National Tour in Houston in a few weeks!!!