The last time I left y'all, I had spent the day taking photos and watching races. That's pretty much what I did again on Saturday.
Being a racer and a race fan, I enjoy racing. Period. So watching is ALMOST as fun as driving. Okay, so there's really no comparison, but I kept telling myself this so I wouldn't go insane.
I got sick Saturday morning. Not sure if it was food poisoning, stomach flu, or a really bad case of nerves. Regardless, I felt pain I had never felt before, and hope to never feel again anytime soon. I'm thinking childbirth might be that bad, but I'm not planning on having kids anytime soon.
Needless to say, I didn't manage to function until about lunch time. I felt bad 'cause I missed some of my friends racing, and didn't get photos of them. I always like to support people I know. It makes the race that much more interesting.
Upon recovery, I went around and took some photos, and planned on going bowling with Austin, his parents and Jim, a mechanic for Longhorn Raceworks. I say planned 'cause when we showed up at the bowling alley, we were turned away because it was league night. It was a real downer since we were all looking forward to playing, and cause we got a free game by staying at the Victorian Village Resort.
We ended up going to Siebkens and had a few drinks and dinner. Well, I didn't have a few drinks, I was terrified to drink anything besides water. I had a mild dinner of pasta (gotta carbo-load for the next day's race) and more water. Then I hit the sack and slept fairly well considering the weight of the next day.
We got to the track early because Austin was running a hardship lap. Then came the fun of watching just about everyone around us race.
First up was Scott McQueen in FE, who was doing really well until he got pushed off into the gravel at turn one. He finished 13th.
Then was the GT2 race featuring Michael, Alex and Pat (otherwise known as “my boys”). Pat did well and finished the race 12th, but Alex had a little trouble in turn one and didn't get a finish. Michael raced his way as high as fourth, but ended up sixth. An impressive run nonetheless. My first stop was the tech tent to give him a congratulatory hug.
James was running really well in HP, until he and Chris Albin got together in I believe turn eight. James was credited with 14th place.
At lunch, Austin and I went back to the house to catch a few zzz's before our race. Our house was literally five minutes from the track, so it was awesome. Both of us got in a nice little power nap before we headed back to see the final laps of the Formula Ford race.
The Southwest Division had a strong presence in the FF race. Mike Sauce finished 5th, Darren Brown was 8th, Wes Cunningham was 10th, Jim Mohrfeld finished 13th and Dan Helman finished 19th.
We watched the beginning of the GT1 race from down at the inside of turn three before heading back our paddock to get ready.
And then the debate began. Rains or slicks. It's a debate that would determine the outcome of the EP National Championship.
To make a long story short, Austin and I both stayed on slicks on the way to the grid. Once there, Austin's dad went back and got rains. They changed tires and Austin started from pit lane. He drove from the back to an impressive fifth!
I, on the other hand, stayed on slicks and endured the race.
During the pace lap, and really the first two laps of the race, I was worried. The track was too dry for rains, and just a little wet for slicks. As much as I wanted a successful race, I wanted Austin to have one as well, and I knew that if it didn't start raining soon, he was screwed. I would have been okay, as would have most of the other competitors.
Then it started raining. And for a few laps it got pretty wild. I was feathering the throttle through the turns and praying the back end wasn't gonna come around on me. Going thru the kink was an eye-opening experience after it started to come down hard. The back end of the car jumped about two feet to the left and I swear the corner workers could hear me scream.
But, overall, it really wasn't that bad. I knew where to drive and what not to do – so as long as I did that I was okay. I locked up the brake three times going into five, and twice going into Canada Corner, but I never left the pavement.
I drove from 35th to 19th. Looking at where everyone else finished, had I put on rains, I probably could have finished in the top 10. BUT, there's no telling what else could have happened, so I just stop thinking about the “if.”
I was completely ecstatic to find out Austin finished fifth. After I pulled into our paddock space, I thanked everyone and ran, literally ran, over to tech to congratulate him. He was pretty happy, too, although like most of us, kept dwelling on the “if.”
It was a late night waiting to be released from tech before we could load up the trailer and head back to the house. Once we got home, I crashed. I think my body finally let itself calm down and therefore shut down.
We woke up the next morning and proceeded to drive the 14 hours back to Joplin, Missouri. It was a long drive, and I took some amazing naps.
Tuesday, we left Joplin and drove the rest of the way home. About two hours from home, my dad decided to let me drive again. And yes, we blew another trailer tire. So, I think it's official, I'm never driving the trailer again. Which means I need to get rich, so we can hire someone else to haul the trailer next year. It's not fair that my dad has to drive the entire way…
I think I can sum up my first Runoffs experience in just a few words: fun, emotional, exciting, tiring and slightly expensive (thanks to the two motors…).
But overall, it was a total blast, and I can't wait to go back next year. I've already started planning – and saving. Haha.
Thank yall for keeping up with me on this journey. I hope I was able to give y'all a little insight to my crazy life, as well as entertain you!.