Diary of a 2004 Open Track Challenge Team

 

2004 OTC Image index page, click here.

 

To say we are excited about OTC is akin to saying Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were excited about going to the moon.  ;)

 

History on how we ended up @ OTC:

 

24 March 2004:  While in SoCal on a business trip, I had dinner with Ryan Flaherty, and the right-honorable JWL at a cool brew-house type joint.  Talk naturally revolves around NASA, CMC, AI, racing in general, etc.  The subject of OTC comes up - I mention wanting to go.  JWL and Ryan manage to convince me that OTC would be a blast, and that I have to attend.  Tough sell.

 

Lot’s of thinking that night – this OTC is in honor of Paul Mumford.  Worked his way into professional racing, won his first race, then died in a plane crash shortly there after.  How could I miss the 2004 OTC?

 

After dinner with RF and JWL, I start making phone calls to Texas - gotta find a co-driver/tow vehicle driver.  First call is to a very good friend, Bud Sharp.  However, we realize that's the week before the Mustang 40th in Nashville, to which Bud has already paid his entrance fee.  Crap - gotta find a backup driver that can fit in my car.  Next up, I call Lewis Tanner.  For some reason, I heard drool hitting the phone as I explain the deal.

 

Notice, I didn’t say anything about calling my lovely wife.  As I’m still 3 days away from coming home, I need to manage that delivery in person.

 

Bud can't get out of the 40th w/o losing his entry fee, so he's obligated to go ( not to mention he's been looking forward to attending it for 7 months ).  LT is the co-pilot.

 

27 March 2004 ( Sat ):  Complete a RFTO form with my company to take a week of vacation, and email it to my supervisor, with crossed fingers.

 

28 March 2004 ( Sun ):  Decide to gently break the news to my lovely wife.  Well, it flies about as well as a lead balloon.  We “discuss” the matter for nearly 2 hours, with the clear understanding that ALL costs associated with this adventure at to come out of the racecar account, she grudgingly agrees.  My wife isn’t thrilled about me leaving for ~10 days to go racing…..lot’s of sucking up, foot massages, and working on the house “to-do list”, and so on.  She’s still not happy, however…..

 

Now to talk to my two boys ( Cody 10, and Seth 13 ).  Seth is my biggest supporter when it comes to racing.  He is such a blast to have at the track with me – always ready to help work on the car, strap me in, set the window net, turn on the camera, wave me out on track….you name it, he’s there.  This would be easy if he was coming with me…..and he can’t.  No way can I take him out of school for a week, especially since he’s in 6th grade.  Too much schoolwork that he’ll miss.  Boy, do I get the cold shoulder after telling him I’m going to OTC, and not racing in the upcoming TWS race.  He feels a bit better once I explain that we ( he and I ) will still attend the race ( I’m the Asst Dir for CMC and AI w/NASA Texas ) to handle my race duties, but not actually racing the car that weekend ( need to save $$ and the car for OTC ), but I’m still not 100% off the hook here.  Cody is more disappointed that I’ll be gone for a week – he’s not into the racing thing as much as Seth is.  Both boys do, however, support my decision to go.

 

The next few weeks are spent working out schedules, costs, parts to buy, finding a way to pay for all this shit, etc.  Seth continues trying to convince me to take him out of school for a week so he can go with me.  It’s a killah to tell him no – he’s the best pitman a dad could ask for.

 

 

29 March 2004 ( Mon ):  CMC #05 goes to CSD Custom Auto ( http://www.csdcustomauto.com ) to have a few things done before our track adventure - tow hooks welded on the car to make it easier to tie down, hood painted to accept Chad's new company logo ( he's my primary sponsor ), new FRPP aluminum drive shaft.  Beg supervisor to approve my week of vacation.  He does.

 

30 March 2004 ( Tues ):  Find out Carroll Shelby is hosting a dinner/mixer for all the OTC participants at his LVMS shop.  Wow….I’ll have to bring some nice clothes!  ;)

 

31 March 2004 ( Wed ):  Parts ordering begins.  Thank heavens for our tax check.  Brake duct hosing, new radiator ( as a spare ), 2 shaved Toyos ( spares ), used Hurst shifter…..man, the money is fly’n outta my race account.

 

3-4 April 2004 ( Sat & Sun ):  Attend our CMC and AI race @ TWS.  Some folks already know I’m not racing this weekend because of our trip to OTC.  I catch all sorts of grief.  J

 

5 April 2004 (  Mon ):  Begin route mapping for the entire trip – holy crap, it’s ~4000+ miles!!  Start looking over CMC #5 even further to make sure we don’t miss anything.  Begin handling many work issues so nothing is left hanging while we’re gone.  Complete all overdue expense reports, interdivisional timesheet, set up several servers to test, etc.  Lots to get done before we leave on 15 April!

 

8 April 2004 ( Thurs ):  Posted on a website that I’m looking for parts ( T-lok, valve covers ).  Get a PM from Matt King – HRM writer.  He’s got a T-lok he’ll let go for free, and can meet us at one of the LA events ( WSIR and/or BW ).  Also offers us another once-in-a-lifetime offer – the chance to be interviewed by HRM!  Wow!!!  The idea is he’s going to cover a few of the stops as a spectator, but is interested in interviewing a participant(s) for an inside perspective.  Naturally, we accept!

 

Pick up 4 rims and tires as spares for the trailer - $20.

 

9 April 2004 ( Fri ):  LT came over to help do a brake job on the tow vehicle - new front rotors, bearings, pads, and a full brake system flush.  Fixed the crank system for the spare – van has to be in tip-top shape for this whole thing.  Chad comes over to install new logo on the hood, LT and I fix the gas pedal to allow proper heel and toeing.  Install Hurst shifter in place of stock unit.  Missed 2 downshifts @ MSR in March, and didn’t want that to happen again.  Realized the shifter handle is just too far away when going into 5th gear ( which we’ll use @ LVMS, and possibly a few other tracks ).  We do some garage-ghetto fab work, and install a set of ~3/4” spacers to move the handle closer to the driver.  Much better.

 

Matt King w/HRM calls to discuss what he’s looking for, when we’ll meet up, etc.  LT and I are completely jazzed to be considered for HRM.

 

Begin process of inventorying the spares:  spare distributor, spare radiator, spare driveshaft, spare tires ( a total of 8 rims and 10 tires for the race car ), 4 rims and tires for trailer, spare front hubs, spare ignition parts ( cap, rotor, plug wires, coil, Duraspark box ), spare fluids ( case of Valvoline Racing 50w oil, 2 spare oil filters, spare diff lube, spare tranny fluid ), new 5 gallon jug to hold water, 3 bottles of WaterWetter.  Sheesh….we are gonna weigh a ton with all of this!

 

10 April 2004 ( Sat ):  Tried to work on the car this weekend, but the family is having none of that.  Kids have a 4 day holiday ( Easter ), and insist we do something together before I head out of town.  How can I refuse my boys??  J

 

13 April 2004 ( Tues ):  Kill a bunch of trees printing out driving directions, and track maps.  We are getting offers from all over the place:

 

  1. From a fellow Texas racer ( CMC/AI director Todd Covini ) to stay at his hotel.  He’s going to be in SanFran that whole week on business, staying in Concord.  That allows us to sleep in a nice place the night before SPIR – warm comfy bed, shower facilities, the works.  Whooohooo!
  2. From Doug Hayashi ( fellow OTC participant ) – if we need help, go find the Pulp Racing trailer.
  3. From Cosmo – works for Griggs Racing @ SPIR.  Gives us his cell and work number.  Says to call if we need something.

 

Making a list of other items to take, as we’ll be sleeping in our tow vehicle.  Oh, did I mention I took my wife’s van to use as the tow vehicle??  Yeah, throw salt in the wound.  J  It’s not like I left her with nothing – she’ll be driving my ‘95 Ford F150.

 

At any rate, we need towels ( shower at the track ), regular toiletry items, large cooler w/ bottled water and much Gatorade ( my drink of choice at the track ), sunglasses, hat, chairs, EZ-Up, blankets, pillows, trashbags, 5 gallon resealable bucket to hold oil during oil changes on the racecar, yadda, yadda, yadda.

 

Test fitted the rims and tires I bought for the trailer…..and discovered they don’t fit.  Shit!!  No spare for the trailer is a very bad thing……gotta find something…..

 

14 April 2004 ( Wed ):  Take one rim from trailer to Northern Tools ( a 40min drive from the house ).  Not only do they not carry the rim, they don’t carry a spare hub/bearing set for it.  Turns out, the rims from the late model F150’s are now metric, and the trailer has some old 5 on 5.5 bolt pattern.  They direct me to Joe’s in Plano ( 5 minutes from Northern ).  They have the hub/bearing ( yeah! ), but no rim.  Crap.  I buy the hub/bearing set.  They direct me to Plano Tire ( another 5 minutes away ).  They have the rim I need…Whooohoooo!  After talking to the guy, I ask if he’s interested in the 4 Ford truck rims I have….does an even swap for the rim and tire I need.  Doesn’t cost me any additional money ( other then the $20 I spent on the 4 rims/tires ) to get a spare.  Damn, that is a load off my mind, and it saved me a few bucks!  I love horse-trading.  J

 

Got home, and I had to spend time with the family before leaving.  Kids are still a bit upset that I’ll be gone for a week racing.  Kathy isn’t thrilled, but over the past few weeks, my foot massaging technique has improved, thereby helping the overall situation.  We went out for dinner, Cody and I played for a while, and then I worked on the racecar until 9:00pm.  Seth insisted we play Tiger Woods 2004, so naturally, I stopped to play.  It’s one of my favorite PS2 games.  Went to bed around 11:00pm, beat.

 

15 April 2004 (Thurs ):  Woke up @ 5:00am w/o the alarm clock ( very unlike me ).  Too excited to sleep.  Finished installing the brake cooling ducts, ignition and alternator wiring.  The car still doesn’t shut off when you turn the kill-switch.  Damn it!!  We’ll have to figure that out on the road, but I have an idea to fix it.  Covered too many work things so the boss doesn’t get mad at me.  Have to go to Houston the week I get back from OTC….wife not happy about that – it’s the week of my birthday.

 

Brought the trailer out from behind the fence…..flat tire on the passenger side.  L  Went out, got a replacement used tire for $20, bought lots of Gatorade, pretzels, and a Box of Rags from Sam’s.  It’s 2:30pm, and I still haven’t started packing the trailer!!!

 

Had another idea about the kill-switch – ran a ground wire thru the second set of contacts to be sure the relays drop….fired up the car, flipped the kill switch…SUCCESS!  The car dies when the kill-switch is flipped.  Sweet.

 

Cody came home from school while I was packing the trailer…..man, he’s my bud.  Talked for a bit, then I went back to loading.  For 2 nights, I stressed over things to remember….last thing I want is to be ~2000 miles from home, and need some small tool/part.  Got all my tools loaded, put a bunch of items inside the Mustang, then loaded it up on the trailer.  Shit, I’m tired already.  Finished loaded many other items ( EZ-Up, boxes of spares, blahzee, blahzee, blah ).  Once all that was completed, I had to cut and edge the grass, clean and shock the pool…..otherwise, Kathy will be very upset with me.  LOL.

 

Finished the house stuff, packed my clothes, then took a shower.  Hung out with my boys….they are the best a dad could ever hope for.  Cody was still making me feel guilty for leaving…”When are you going to be home Dad?”…”A week from Saturday, pal.”….”Awwwww…I’m gonna miss you.”  Man, that kills me.

 

Stayed in the family room for the rest of the evening, just hanging with the clan.  Put the kids to bed @ 10:00pm, and then headed for the van.  Kathy walks me out with tears in her eyes….she’s scared because we are leaving at night ( I have a bad tendency to fall asleep at the wheel when it gets late ).  Give her a big hug and kiss ( lord I love kissing that woman… ), and insist we’ll be fine.

 

Drive to LT’s place – he was going to drive up here, but he cracked the oil pan in his BMW the other night, again, so he can’t drive it. After loading up his shit, taking a few pics, and getting gas, we get on the road at midnight. 

 

 

By ~1:45am, I’ve had enough, so I pull over to let LT continue on.  We stop at a McDonalds by 8:00am the next morning – LT is looks toasted.  Eyes all bloodshot.  We have breakfast, then I take the wheel.  We switch later on that day, and while I’m sleeping LT decides he wants to stop at some big-assed fucking hole in the ground – Meteor Crater.  Ok, we’ll probably never get back thru here again…$12 per person to get in and look at some huge hole!!!  Damn!

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 April 2004 ( Fri ):  The drive is relatively uneventful, until we eat in Flagstaff.  Ate a bean burrito and a soft taco @ Taco Bell, then head back out.  Within an hour and a half, I tell LT to pull over – fast.  Hop out, and puke for 20 minutes.  Shit, this isn’t gonna be good.  Take a breather, drink some water, but man I feel like death warmed over.  Get back onto the road…..and get to the Hoover Damn.  Have to stop for a police checkpoint ( since 9/11 ) so they can look inside the van and race car.  We get thru that, and stop twice to take pics. 

 

   

 

 

Head into LV…..and I tall LT to pull over again, fast.  Puke again for 10-15 minutes.  Fuck!  This really sucks.  Huge props to LT for being the threshold brake man that he is.

 

Get to LVMS around ~8pm local time.  Drop off the trailer, go to Walmart so I can shit my brains out.  Picked up some Pepto, and drank it.  Like drinking chalk.

 

 

 

Get back to LVMS, and pull a bunch of stuff out of the van so we can sleep.  Within an hour, I’m back out next to the racecar, puking.  And again a few hours later.  Man, this sucks.  Keeping control of my butt is an exercise in futility.  Need to change my shorts. 

 

17 April 2004 ( Sat ):  Finally got some sleep…woke up around ~6:30, got up, checked the board, and email.  Time to pack up our shit, and get into the infield of LVMS.  I need a shower too!

 

Well, it turns out the road course isn’t actually in the oval – it’s outside, right next to the NASCAR track.  Packed up our gear, drove over, and parked next to cheating bastard Doug Hayashi and the infamous Flamemobile.

 

Unloaded the car and gear.  Gave LT a once thru on the car…and discovered the cooling fans quit working.  Do some checking…found a bad ground.  Fixed, and everything works fine.  LT drove the car up and down the pits….had a bad rub on the driver front tire.  The lower portion of the fender is rubbing.  Ghetto flares are done, with a set of Channel-lock pliers.  No more rubbing.

 

 

Did a lead/follow with Doug to help learn the track. 

 

 

Holy shit are we are so far behind the other racers – they know these tracks….I feel all thumbs out there trying to learn the line.  Nearly looped the car on a mod-section decreasing radius left hander….car got wayyyyy sideways, but I recovered and drove on.  Came into the pits to let LT go out in this session…..Doug’s rear bumper cover caught fire from an overfull oil catch-can.

 

 

 

Yikes.  LT heads out…..but the session is flagged.  He’ll go out in the next session.

 

I managed to bubble a Toyo, ending our day. 

 

 

I get 2 sessions, LT gets 1.  We decide it’s time to fix the gas pedal to allow proper heel and toeing.  Run to AutoZone, get a set of bling-bling AL pedal covers.  We install.

 

I’m feeling better after that burrito felt it necessary to expel itself from 2 out of 3 orifices of my body.  Ate 2 plain English muffins @ Mickey D’s, which helped.  Still crapping a bunch, tho. Drinking lots of Gatorade.  Fuck, I need to take a shower!

 

Mixer held at Carroll Shelby’s race shop.  CS isn’t there, but the showroom is full of new and old CSX cars, a Series I, Mustangs, etc.  Cool shop.

 

Doug Hayashi gave us the card to his hotel room so we could grab a shower – it felt so nice to get cleaned up.  Tried to go to the Bellagio for a dinner buffet but LV traffic was terrible, and we were tired.  Drive back, got a bite at some joint, got back to the track, and slept – very good.

 

I run a 2.16.xxx, LT a 2.20.xxx.  LT is bitch boy for the day.

 

18 April 2004 ( Sun ):  LVMS, OTC day 1.  Doug gives us the card to shower up again.  Come back, fix the lower rad hose, clean/flush out the rad, fill it up.  I go out, and feel a tad better ( both in the car, and in the gut ).  Run the whole first session, came in with a cooling issue – out of now where, it will peg the gauge.  ??  Get the car to a personal best of 2:14.xxx.  LT runs a best of 2:12.xxx.  I’m bitch boy for the day.

 

On my last session, warm up lap, I break the go-pedal off.  Pull into the hot pits, loosen my belts, find the pedal, toss it out the window, go back out.  Pushed HARD into 1, lifting the pass rear tire. 

 

 

The whole session is a waste, as I can’t drive well – gotta put my foot WAYY out to go WOT.  Pulled in.

 

We figure that we can work on the car for 1.5 hours before having to leave for WSIR.  Yank the pedal assembly out of the car, drill a new hole, get a bolt from some fellow racers in a yellow S4, reassemble, and it’s much better. 

 

 

Load up, tow to WSIR.  Got in around ~11:30pm local time, tossed a few things out of the van, and slept.

 

19 April 2004 ( Mon ):  WSIR, OTC day 2.  Scored a garage as we pulled in.  Yes!!  Get unloaded. 

 

 

I gear up for the 1st session, and do a lead/follow with Jack Hidley.  Manage a respectable 1:48.xxx.  Cooling issue resurfaces.  Gas pedal ok.

 

LT heads out, and pulls a 1:44.595.  Bastard.  Comes back in, running out of gas.  Opps.  Fill

up, grab a bite to eat.  Put more water in the rad, as it’s using allot of water each session.

 

 

Suit up, head out to follow Jack again.  I REALLY like WSIR – very fast track.  Much easier to pick up then LVMS.  I manage to pull a 1:44.xxx – 4 seconds a lap faster.  We also manage to kill what’s left of the Auburn – so, it’s time to call in a favor.  I make a phone call to Cosmo w/Griggs Racing.  I tell him our dilemma – what will he charge us to swap the dead Auburn ( which isn’t rebuildable ) with our recently-acquired T-lok.  Some silence on the phone…he comes back as says as long as we come in after hours ( ~6pm or so ), he’ll do it for free.  We are, needless to say, shocked at his offer.

 

Come in, full up with gas and water.  LT heads out…..and manages an astonishing 1.40.xxx.  I am bitch boy for the second day now.

 

Matt King w/Hot Rod mag meets us @ WSIR, gives us the T-lok.  He takes many pictures, covers my car w/a fine toothed comb ( He’s building an ’84 Mustang CMC car ).  Still fighting cooling issues.

 

One of our competitors, Jack Hidley, splits his motor in 2.  We now have a solid 3rd place in UAGT.

 

20 April 2004 ( Tues ):  Thunderhill, OTC day 3.  Wow, what a track.  2 major blind hills, a blind off camber right hander, a few nice sweepers.  Very nice track, owned by the SF Region SCCA.

 

I go out in session one, do a lead/follow w/Doug.  Best time is a 2:21.xxx.  Lt goes out, and pulls a 2:19.xxx.  My second session…..a 2.16.141.  LT’s….a 2.15.941!  We are a .2 off from one another.  LT has a nice 4-off going thru the front hill.  No offs for me, but a few nice slides.  Car running good, but still experiencing a cooling issue.  Having a blown rear isn’t helping things much in the lower speed stuff.  A friendly rivalry begins between us and the Cobra guys ( 2 CSX cars that put down 500+ hp to the wheels ).  We try to find ways to keep them on the trailer….leaking fluid, track to slow for them to bother going out, that kind of stuff.  J

A white Evo has a serious off @ T8 – cartwheels his car during his first session out, and completely destroys it.  Not a straight piece of sheetmetal anywhere.  Street car, no cage.  Driver and passenger basically walk away from the accident.  Driver will be paying for a dead Evo for quiet some time – insurance will not cover the damage.

 

 

LT gets black flagged twice for fuel spillage from the fuel cell vent line.  It’s been a modest problem before, but we’ve never been BF’d for it.  L

 

Each night, LT and I sleep in the van, camping out.  It’s small, but comfortable.  It makes the whole adventure that much more of an experience.

 

We leave T-hill, headed to Griggs Racing.  Cosmo is waiting for us when we arrive – car gets unloaded, and immediately put on the lift.  Within 30 minutes, the dead Auburn is pulled from the car.  Cos finds one new set of bearings, rebuilds the T-lok while I head out to get 2 large pepperoni pizzas and 2 six packs.  When I get back, the whole rear is reassembled, brakes/axles installed, ready for fresh Mobil 1.  We fill the rear, change the engine oil and filter, install fresh front pads, tie wrap up the loose brake ducts.  Cos finds a ~5ft section of fuel line to replace our too-short fuel vent.  We coil it up around the cell to stop our venting problem.  I try to pay Cosmo for helping us out, but he refuses.  Without a doubt, he saved us about $1000 in labor and parts.  A great guy, and a great shop.  Considering our trouble, we might not have gotten any further without their help.

 

 

Todd Covini is staying in NorCal this week, and allows us to crash at his hotel for the night.  It was great to stay in a regular bed, but the camping thing has been such a blast, I kinda miss it.  Many of the other teams have nice motor homes, or stay in a hotel.  LT and I both think they are missing something by not camping the way we do at the track.

 

The camaraderie among ALL the teams/drivers is fantastic – something I really enjoy.  The good-natured ribbing, jokes about the cars, lap times, you name it.  All the competitors are great people, as well as all the organizers.

 

21 April 2004 ( Wed ):  SPIR – rain.  We get to the track, late.  Missed the drivers meeting.  Rain starts to fall.  Try to fire up the car….and discovered I left the master switch on all night.  Crap…now we need a jump.  Guy in a sweet ~68 Camaro comes to our aid, and gives us a jump.  I debate switching to full treads, but we figure the track still has some traction.  Wrong guess….I go out following Doug, trying to find the wet line.  Well, I find it, and the dry line, causing a spin within ~4 laps.

 

 

I run the whole session as recon.  Come back in, put gas in, and change to full treads for LT.  It helps – he smokes a 2:25 vs. my lousy 2.55.  Rain subsides, and it looks like the track is going to dry.  Todd Covini shows up, and we go out with him during the HPDE sessions to help learn the line.

 

 

We break for lunch, head to Griggs Racing to BS with Bruce Griggs – we want him to come to Dallas for an AI race.  Grab some food, head back to the car.  With 8 minutes before my session, we swap to dry tires.  Good choice – I manage a decent 2:04.xxx!  LT goes out for the last session, and soundly beats my ass with a string of 2:00.xxx’s.

 

 

 

Each night, I call home to say hello to the family.  And, each night, Kathy sounds less and less thrilled.  I stop telling her how things are, and just tell her we are ok.  She has no desire to hear about our racing.  LT thinks I’m crazy for calling her 2-3 times a day, but it’s something I’ve done for a long time, being I travel so much for business.

 

We begin packing up to head for BW – have to be out of the track by 5:00pm.  The drag racers are starting to show.  We also pick up a new team member:

 

 

She is left in our care from another OTC Touring division team, with strict orders not to lose her.  We strap her into the car for the tow to BW.  We get lots of stares, some good, some not so good.  J

 

We arrive @ BW around ~8:00pm – early, compared to other nights. 

 

 

One of the RX7 teams is hard at work replacing the motor in a garage.

 

 

LT and I get the van ready to sleep.  I fire up the laptop, get the cellphone hooked up as the modem.  Check email ( work has been going nuts since I left – my phone rings no less the 5 times a day with folks wanting to talk to me ), check the board, then shut down, and catch some ZZZZ….tomorrow is the last day of OTC.  L

 

22 April 2004 ( Thurs ):  Buttonwillow – last day of OTC.  My mom, dad and sister arrive to cheer us on.  My sister’s ’74 Trans Am draws allot of attention.  We get ready for the 1st session – fuel, water, and replace a squashed brake duct.  We put the pass front tire back on…..and I forget to torque the rim.  Thankfully, it stays on for my session.  New rules – car gets a torque check before going out from now on.

 

I go out, trying to learn the line.  Manage a respectable opening, but LT beats me yet again.  Lunch with my family is fun – it’s great to have them at the track seeing me race for the very first time.

 

I go out in Session 2, and manage a 2:15.xxx.  I’m not happy with this time, as typically, I manage 4-5 seconds off my best time from session 1 to session 2.  I pull in, hop out quickly so I can take Aimee’s Trans Am out for a few laps in the HPDE group.  I take her out for ~4 laps, then have mom climb in for a few laps.  They both had a complete blast running with me on the course. 

 

Last session of the day….LT heads out, and gets moving.  Doug Hayashi fixes his suspension setup in just enough time to get out and run his 3 fast laps.  He beats Dearing in U1.

 

I watch as LT gets faster with each lap….2.16….2.15…..2.11.  He kicked my ass yet AGAIN.  After DH came off the track, there are 3 cars left running…..the 2 CSX Cobras, and my little CMC Mustang.  Within a few minutes, the green CSX car blows a HG, and is told to pull off.  Final laps of the 2004 Paul Mumford Memorial OTC has 2 cars still running on the track – the maroon CSX Cobra belonging to Kevin, and my CMC Mustang with LT at the helm.  An awesome showing for a first time team.

 

The OTC organizers held a beer-fest after the last HPDE session for all the participants.  I said goodbye to my family, as the awards ceremony was being called.  We took 3rd in UAGT, being 21 out of 35 overall.  John Dearing won the PMUM award, to which he then donated back to the Mumford family.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room when he did that.

 

Packing up was…. depressing, at least a bit.  We just spent the past 6 days racing at a new track every day, with a great group of people.  And it was over, except for the long drive back to Dallas.  We took our time packing everything up, cleaned out the van to make it more livable for the drive home, and got ready to go – I think we were one of the last people out of BW.  We thanked all the corner workers for their hard work and help – can’t do this road race thing without them.

 

We left BW, headed east for Big D.  I drove until about midnight, and let LT take over.  We were supposed to stop at some point to grab a hotel, but I awoke around 8am CT to find LT still driving!  He decided to drive straight on thru without stopping.  So, we just kept on going.  I pick up driving duties around ~7am.  About ~4-5 hours from Dallas, the driver side front trailer tire disintegrated in spectacular fashion, wrapping the tread around the trailer axle.  We stopped, changed tires, and were back on the road in ~30 minutes.

 

In Bowie, TX, we hit a serious storm.  Since I’d been driving for ~13+ hours, I let LT take it the rest of the way to his place.  I got home around midnight on Friday evening.  Got the race car unloaded and into the garage just as it began to rain again.

 

The boys go nuts now that I’m home.  Even our dog, Honey, is jumping up and down, thrilled for me to be home.  The wife treats me to a nice evening…..maybe I should go away racing more often.  ;)

 

Slept in until 10am on Saturday and Sunday – we were pretty damn tired.  I awoke, thinking about what track we were going to be running on that day……only to realize OTC was over.  Back to the age-old grind stone….cut and edge the grass, clean and shock the pool, fix things around the house, go back to work.  I’d rather be racing, but it’s so nice to be home with my family. 

 

Looking back, our budget was so much smaller then the other teams – one Evo team had a dealer replace his blown engine overnight, at what had to be a huge cost ( I’m guessing ).  Doug ran his NSX hard ( as always )….but had a motorhome, F350 tow vehicle, and very nice 5th-wheel style trailer.  Most of the other participants also had motorhomes…..all very nice.  But, I think sleeping/camping in our van made this whole experience so much more enjoyable.

 

Our carnage list:

 

1 bulged 255.50.16 Toyo RA-1 tire

1 set of Cobalt Friction VR front brake pads

1 Auburn rear

1 front brake duct

1 trailer tire

1 gas pedal

1 300w DC-AC inverter ( mounted in the van ).

LOTS of gas – about 60-70 gallons for the race car, and approximately 300 gallons for the van.

6 video tapes for in-car video

8 quarts of Valvoline 50w racing oil

1 oil filter

3 quarts Mobil 1 75w90 gear oil

 

All in all, it was one of the most memorable racing experiences I’ve ever had.  The camaraderie between all the racers, and the organizers was just fantastic.  I truly believe we all have a common bond now, one that can never be broken.  For those that know what the OTC is, know what I’m talking about.

 

Are we ready to do it again….hell yeah!