Thursday, April 28, 2022

Lemons Race Weekend With A Bunch of Idiots: Saturday!

    The Bunch of Idiots team rolls into Camden!

We had four drivers for this Lemons Race, and I'm just one of them, so here's my story!

  Remember: Themes Are For Suckers!

Thanks goodness the other three guys are faster and way more experienced than me! I say this because my lack of experienced showed with making some mistakes on track, which earned me TWO black flags on Saturday. A black flag for a driver means you done wrong, get off track, and go explain yourself to the judges. My first mistake turned out to be passing someone in the Carousel (big long sweeping right hand corner) under a yellow flag. OK, my fault, I missed seeing the yellow flag, so I got a "good talking too" from head judge Mental, and admitted it was my fault. On the inside though, the devil-racer-voice on my other shoulder was saying "WAY TO GO, PASSING IN THE LONGEST CORNER ON TRACK!" Ignore that voice is the lesson here. 

 Here's the band in action, Brian on Fire Extinguisher, Kyle on Gas Can, Luke driving and just out of the car

Black flag #2, believe it or not was in the SAME SPOT, somewhere going into the Carousel corner I was too fast, or lost concentration, or was distracted by a car (that I saw coming) about to pass car wiggled a bit and I kept it on track by going way out on the outer rumble strips, while the car behind understandably took COLLISION AVOIDANCE MANEUVER!!! and had to go off track to avoid my mistake. Again, I get the black flag, go into the pits, and to my surprise I see Judge Shellie (AKA: Shellie's House of Speed) one of our SC automotive friends. Oh boy does she have a huge grin when she sees me coming in, and proceeded to really kid me about this. Again, my fault, and my only defense was that I saw the other driver, didn't miss a flag, stayed on track, and ....ah heck, I got a black flag. So, with Judge Shellie on one side, and Judge Mental in the other window, they made me sweat a bit and threatened me with some of the crazy-embarrassing penalties for bad drivers that Lemons racing uses to get your attention.  Yep, they got my attention, just a longer "talking to" and I avoided an even longer penalty that would have kept the team off track more. Bottom line, Lemons is NOT all about racing, because SAFETY has to come first, and they do a good job of keeping dumb drivers like me safe. 

 Let's do the Pit Stop thing again!

 Brian duels with the Z car early on Saturday

So, besides that, it was a blast, and I drove from about 11:45-1:15 or so, managed to pass some cars, let some cars pass me, and did way more actual racing than my previous Lemons race. The Miata felt very solid to drive, and I continued working on being consistent and predictable in traffic, and really worked to avoid another black flag. Auto racing looks easy from the outside, but, there's a LOT of stuff going on in that car while you're gaining experience. It was getting hotter in the car, so I was turning the Cool Shirt system on, and that cold water flowing through the tubes in my Cool Shirt felt great. That didn't really stop the headache I was getting so I told the team I wanted to come in and swap drivers.

 Brian doing the Saturday night brake pad change as Luke lights it up!  

Compared to a normal track day where you drive several 20 minute sessions, or a full day of autocross where you might drive a minute long course 8 times, going full blast for an hour and a half on track with other cars is like being on another planet. Oh, very fun, just lots of things to be doing at once, and I can't wait to do it again.

 This chopped shorter Lincoln was up for auction, complete with oversized hood ornament.

Later in the day Luke spotted the car overheating and returned to the paddock, where we saw that the belt was missing, so Kyle jumped in and had a new belt on in less than 20 minutes, so Luke was back out on track. Apparently the car is eating about one belt per race, so the Bunch of Idiots are planning to just replace it for every weekend as insurance in the future. I can't imagine pulling into a dealership and getting a new belt put on in that short a time, so this is a great example of experience paying off for the team. 

    Luke back in the car

Outside the car, I tried to assist the rest of the team with refueling stops, and other odds and ends the rest of the day. After racing stopped for Saturday at 5PM, it was good to slow down a bit as Kyle and Luke worked on addressing an issue with the car where we were burning more fuel than predicted. This didn't keep us off track, so I think there were satisfied with a few tweaks to get ready for Sunday's racing. Brian mostly took over putting on new front brake pads, and we didn't even have to worry about changing tires thanks to the longevity of the Hankook RS4s that had already survived a Lucky Dog race and Friday's 4 track sessions. I have the same tires going strong on my car at home, and they've done multiple track weekends and autocross events too. 

    Brian ready to go

My goal is to report on stuff honestly here, so since I already mentioned the black flags, now I've got to say the fun part of driving was safely getting through traffic. At one point I was swapping back and forth with a pink Volvo wagon, and leading him coming out of the Carousel I was coming up on two slower cars on the next straight. They ended up leaving a gap right down the middle of the straight, so that's where I went, and I think that allowed me to get away from the Volvo for a while. After watching video from the rest of our team, they were passing that car multiple times per session, so again, I'm slow! With about 75 cars of various speeds on track, every driver has to constantly be checking their mirrors and adjusting to other cars to stay safe. We all have seen bad drivers on three lane Interstates with big lines painted on them, so just imagine a race track as kind of the same thing with no speed limits, no lines, and everyone is trying to get ahead of everyone else. 

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