Saturday was not kind to Canuck. In fact, Saturday was a tough day for the Big Bore Bad Boys, period.
To begin with, in the first race, Canuck decided to do a little blackberry picking. His suspension broke, and the good news was that he wasn’t hurt, nor his car really damaged. But still, he was done for Saturday and would start in last place Sunday morning.
A few years ago, Mule took a Corvette out for test drive and went up the same hill. That car ended up on its top.
In the afternoon race, FastCat blew his motor at the end of the main straight. Pieces of 12-cylinder Jaguar connecting rod were all over the pavement. I’ve been told there are photos of the fireball. (Somebody have those photos?) He was okay, too, but that motor will be melted into beer cans.
All this mayhem left Ceegar and me to battle it out in shortened events Saturday afternoon. Ceegar was in front. Where I wanted to go, he already was. If he wasn’t there yet, he just moved over to get in my way. Here’s what that looked like from my point of view. I especially like the segment starting about 9:30.
But you know, Ceegar is one of the few I trust to go through The Kink at Seattle at close to 160 mph. On top of that, it’s for a good cause.
It was great racing, and left me thinking about how I was going to approach the session the next morning. I thought about letting Ceegar get out in front and letting Beater go after him. Sometimes that’s worked for me, letting the leaders wear out their tires, get tired, work too hard. But it has risks, especially if the race is shortened like it was on Saturday.
So I decided I needed to get in front and stay in front on Sunday. And considering how Ceegar worked me over on Saturday, I had the attitude.
A long time ago, Cowboy told me to watch the starter’s elbow. “Go when you see their elbow go up, don’t wait for the green flag,” he said. And that’s what I did to Ceegar. When the elbow started to go up, my accelerator went down. By the time green could be seen, my engine was starting to howl. Ceegar was a half second behind me, but that’s all I needed. See it here.
I didn’t drive my best line. But the line I drove kept Ceegar behind me, until finally his transmission broke and he had to pull off. Canuck was getting closer every lap after starting from the back of the field. I made my self wide, and he couldn’t get by before the checkered flag.
He would have had me if the race had gone another lap.
I didn’t run in the Sunday afternoon race. My black and yellow Corvette did not feel good at the end of the win over Ceegar; she sounded harsh, out of sorts. I decided enough was enough.
Beater put his sinister black car away for the afternoon too, after a couple of excursions into the dirt trying to get past Ceegar.
Cowboy finished the race, but his car had issues. He’s going to have to work hard to fix it. His clutch was slipping, there’s still an unidentified vibration, and he has a long drive to Road America, less than two weeks away.
Enough was enough. More than enough, actually, for this weekend. All three days, Merlin battled gremlins in my engine. Water in the distributor from a pinhole leak in the non-standard intake manifold gasket. Three pistons on the driver’s side had reduced the spark plug gap to nearly nothing. Three times he had to torque the bolt on the intake rocker for the number four cylinder.
On Monday back at his shop, he found that bolt had again backed off, despite being set with Loctite and torqued. The bolt dropped into the crankcase, rattled around and damaged my oil pump. It left the intake valve closed, which was why she didn’t sound the way she does when she’s running smoothly on all eight.
“In hindsight, I wish I’d not let you run in that morning race,” Merlin said. In hindsight, I’m really glad I heard the engine’s distress and didn’t run later in the afternoon.
Canuck won that afternoon race, and he pretty much owned the weekend, despite his little excursion up the hill to pick berries. Even if my Corvette had run on all eight cylinders at some point in the weekend, I wouldn’t have been able to catch him. The truth is, had we been in identical cars, he would have beat me anyway.
Doogie, driver of the blue GT40 in the videos, took a photo of everyone. Doogie is a rocket scientist, and may be in the photo too. He’s the only one I know smart enough to pull that off. But maybe it’s just the light.
I’ve given the photo a title: “The man who would be King.” That’s Beater out in front. For years he’s wanted to be first, the best. And there he is. He might just do it on the track, too, he’s improved so much. On the other hand, there’s a few of us with the same goal in mind.
Merlin is thrashing on my car to get her ready for Road America in two weeks. I’m trying to juggle transportation so my crew chief Jakester and I get to Seattle/Tacoma International for the flight to Chicago, where we’ll meet Ceegar and Merlin and drive down to Road America.
For more photos of the race, click here.