Our team is basically a WMHM or Honda Meet team. It consisted of me, Adam, Chris, Jeremy, Tom, Allison(crew chief), Nick, and Bill being our hospitality guys. haha. Luckily, Nick brought a camper, so it made our weekend a lot easier. From Nick cooking "watery" cinnamon rolls for Jeremy to Chris and I watching the ALMS, the camper saved us!!
The start of my week didn't start quite right. I woke up on Monday and could tell that I was getting sick. So, I layed on the couch until Wednesday and worked a half day. By Friday morning, I felt a lot better than I did on Monday. I still had a sore throat, but my energy level seemed to be back up. Well, I don't know if it was the weather or what, but once I was driving, that level went back down to about zero. Luckily, I have Brandy, so she did about two hours of the driving while I rode shotgun.
We got to South Haven before Adam arrived with the car, so we went to check in at the hotel. Too early they said, so we headed to the track. We checked in and I got my equipment "tech'd". We then headed to grab some food and to check in to the hotel. We checked in and ate, then brought all of our stuff in. It was about 32 degrees with a windchill in the low 20s. So, to pass the time, we took Bai to the pool. I kept my clothes on and sat out in case we had the opportunity to test the car. Adam sent me a text around 4pm and said that they just got out of tech. No reason to pay to test for an hour. So, upstairs I went and I was one cannonball away from having a good time!!
Saturday morning, I headed to the track by myself since it was early and freezing, literally. I don't remember the temperature, but there was snow on the ground! I get to the track and say my hellos, then Tom and I walked around the paddock to check out all the interesting rides. After that, we cleaned the snow off the car and hopped in to check with inserts that we would use during our stints. Then, it was time for the Drivers' meeting. Holy cow, that place was PACKED!! 70ish teams with about 5 drivers per team, if that tells you anything.
We still didn't have a driving order, but Adam suited up first. I'm the type that likes to go in with a plan and they are all layed back. So, I'm kind of "freakin' out" because I don't know when I'm going. But, too late for that, time to start engines. Adam starts about mid-pack and just starts laying down laps. We were all hiding in the camper with Allison on the radio with Adam. I bought the Race Monitor app, so that I could follow the race with the rest of the team. Jeremy said that Chris or I could go second, then the other one third. So, with the girls back at the hotel, I said that I would go third. Adam had been in the car for about 2 hours and 45 minutes or 2 hours and 30 minutes of race time. It was time for him to come in. My duty for that stop was to hold the fire extinguisher. Tom filled and the first can went in fine. But, the second can had a crack in the quick fill head. Uh oh, switched the heads over and back to filling. Chris headed out to track and we filled the gas back up. Then, I headed to get the girls.
Once back to the track, we hid in the camper again due to the cold. Before I knew it, it was time for me to get ready to head out. Normally, I get a bit nervous, but for some reason, I wasn't. I didn't know if this was a good thing or a bad thing. I had never driven the car, let alone on track. I hadn't ever even driven a CRX and it had been awhile since driving on "street" tires. Also, my first time wearing the HANS. Then add my first time racing wheel to wheel in a car, I've ran open passing groups, but not true wheel to wheel. So, probably a lot to be nervous about, but I was just ready to get out there.
Here is a video of me about to hop in.
Once I hopped in, Tom got me strapped in while Allison hooked the radio up. Adam came over and said something like "Just go out and learn the car, then have fun. YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO FAST!" Ok, so turn laps and don't be silly, got it, I think. To make it fair, they make everyone drive the same distance around the paddock to get back on track. The paddock speed limit is 10mph which seems like it takes forever! I had my driver's band on the outside of my suit sleeve and my glove already rolled up. So, I held it out to the marshal and never lifted off the gas. The speed limit is serious, too. One guy was strapped to the hood of his car and had a megaphone yelling "I am sorry for speeding in the pits. I could have killed your kids..etc." Pretty funny because it wasn't anyone on our team. That is a lot of time wasted in the paddock for driving too fast. The penalty box is where you have to go for violations or black flags. You would think that the penalty box would be pretty bare. Wrong, that place is busy almost all the time.
|Getting ready for my 2 hours and 45 minutes of fun!|
I don't really remember the first part of my stint. I remember paying attention for the couple fast BMWs and the pink pig Mustang. Right when I started getting into my "groove", I went into T7 and got on the brakes. The next thing I know is that I have something resting on the heel of my foot. UH OH!! I thought it was our Gatorade bottle aka our drink system. So, I cruise through T8-T10 and get on the back straight, then coast. All the people I had passed are now passing me like I am sitting still. Now, let me paint a picture with words. I'm short, Adam Jabaay is tall. The seat is welded to the floor for someone tall. I am straight armed to hold the steering wheel and I have to shuffle the steering wheel which I hate. I can barely get the gas pedal flat to the floor. I didn't think to loosen the shoulder straps, but here I am trying to push this object back with my left heel while reaching down with my right hand. I finally inched it up seat and into my hand. It was roll bar padding, I never checked to see what part of the cage that it came off of. The only other "odd" thing to happen in the car was trying to get a drink. The set up was a 32 ounce Gatorade bottle with water in it and a long hose a bit thicker than a straw tapped into the cap. The hose was wrapped around the seat and tucked under your right shoulder harness. One time I went to get a drink and by the time I got the end of it up to my mouth, brake zone! Now this hose is resting on the radio wire and bugging me. I locate the hose and thought that I tucked it under my right arm. Wrong, it is gone. My throat is super dry which stinks considering I am getting over being sick. We finally get a full course caution and I reach to where we had the bottle, then locate the hose. I pull the hose back from around the seat and find the end. I get a few good drinks and stuff it back in the cage. I'm good to go now!
|In front of the Pit Out Lake.|
The Lemons title might make you think that it is just crap cars driving around in almost a Sunday drive. It is far from it, granted you have some out there that don't check their mirrors, but it is great racing otherwise. I had a "NFL Women's Attire" car about hit me on the straight away between T4(the kink) to T5. I went inside and was at almost the grass. Right about as I was going by, he/she came over on me. I would say that we had about six inches between us. I "braced" for some sort of impact, but luckily nothing happened. I threw my hand up to say "WHAT THE HECK"!! I think that it somewhat scared them because they didn't know that I was there because I was almost to T7 by the time that they got out of T6. Besides a few small contacts in front of me, it was pretty clean. There were tons of hot pulls happening on track which made for a lot of local yellows and white flags. We had some debris flags, but the best of all was when I was coming out of T6 and saw a huge set of "truck nuts". I got a decent run coming out of that section and popped to the left of the car ahead. "Holy CRAP!!" I swerve to miss the huge set of truck nuts in the road. That was probably the most "loose" that I had the car all stint.
|Using traffic to get away from the red Porsche. Also, making a three wide pass through T2; white car, me, green Civic.|
|The Save the Ta-Tas Camaro.|
|A shot from the Car and Drive blog.|
I started using the watch on the dash bar to keep track of time, but I didn't know that it was set to Chicago(Central) time. I started looking at it around 4:10pm(Central), so really 5:10pm, about an hour and a half into my stint. But, after doing math according to the Central time, I don't think that I have been in there for long. Dry and scratchy throat, something in my right shoe poking my ankle when full throttle, and the harness pinching certain things. I got my mind over those things and said "You've got awhile." I came over the radio about a half hour after that and asked if I was if we were still in second. Jeremy replied "We are now first in class by six laps." Heck yeah!! I didn't do much talking on the radio, so it was pretty quiet for awhile. Jeremy came back on and said "You can pit whenever you want, good job out there." But, before he is done, you hear Adam in the background "STAY OUT, KEEP GOING!!" haha. That was the plan, so at this point, I think that I have only been out there for an hour and a half due to my math according to the clock. A little bit more time goes by, Jeremy comes back over the radio and says "Ok, pit this time." I was already into T10 and the pit in is right ahead. There is no one around me and I think that I have only done a bit more than an hour and a half. So, I come over the radio and say "Let me pass another car, I'm not done having fun yet!!" Well, as I go by our paddock spot, Jeremy yells "PIT, PIT, PIT!!" haha. I didn't reply, I was going to make the last lap count! I caught some traffic around T2 and had traffic the rest of the lap. And, luckily, in T10 it was busy. The Army green Civic was on the outside with the "Sick Gut" on the inside. I took the middle line and got up on the Gaguar's quarterpanel. Once I cleared him, I had to get a better exit than the Civic, so that I could make it in the pits. I had been around the Civic plenty of times and I knew in a straight line that we were very close. The diesel Izusu "rust coupe" was ahead, so I used him as a pick and through my arm out to show that I was pitting. The last 45 minutes to an hour, I never got passed and played all of my traffic cards right. I was pleased with my stint.
|The Sick Gut car. I don't know what is in it, but it is quick in a straight line. I know it is converted to a MR setup.|
As pleased as I was, it was super refreshing to turn down towards our pit area and see everyone's smiles. That's when I got super pumped because I knew that they were thrilled because it was their first time in 3 races to be P1 in class. I pull up, the wheel gets chocked, the engine off, steering wheel off, and harness undone. My driving duties were complete and time for Tom to bring it home for the day. High fives all around and then Nick tells me that I did a 2 hour and 45 minute stint. Sweet! That is when I was told the watch was still on Chicago time. haha.
|Me crossing the finishing finish line.|
Tom closed out the day. We finished day 1 being P1 in class and P5 overall. Brandy had wanted pizza, so our night ended by eating at this "World Champion" pizza place. Well, long story short, I've made better Tombstone pizzas before! Friday was super windy down by the pier, so we made our way down there again since it was more calm. South Haven's pier and lighthouse always make for a good photo.
|A little bit after sunset on Saturday.|
Sunday was pretty straight forward, Tom and Jeremy splitting up a bit less than 5 hours of race time. Tom's stint went smooth and the pit stop was just as smooth. Nick and Allison doing the in car stuff. Me filling the car with gas and Chris making sure that I don't catch everyone on fire. Bill set the pressures and I checked the lug nuts. Then, out Jeremy went. He was out for a bit, then I walk out of the camper to get some sun and here he comes up pit lane. He throws his hands up at me and I look up the paddock and here comes Allison running with the radio in one hand, camera in the other. I knew it, black flag. There was a car ahead of him, so I asked the lady if he did get a black flag, yes for passing under yellow. Nick tried tossing her money, but that didn't work. haha. He got out rather quick because he knew the rule and it was our first infraction. It seemed as if a corner station got excited because about 8 cars came in for the same reason.
|Another pic, part of a sequence from a picture above.|
After that, it was smooth sailing until the end. P1 in B class and P6 overall, by far the best finish for Team Gutty!! 500 hundred dollars worth of nickles going to the car and Bai got to go home with the trophy. What an awesome time! Thanks to all the Jabaays, Chris, Tom, Nick, and Bill for the hospitality. Great team, awesome atmosphere, and well sorted car besides the non-sticking roll bar padding. Also, a big thanks to the Landshark team, they helped us with some fuel supply stuff and anything else that we needed. I can't forget Brandy for taking care of Bai, plus being there for me over the course of a long weekend including doing some of the driving. Gingerman and 24 Hours of Lemons crew, corner workers, etc, Thank you, too!! I can't wait to do it again!!
|Bai and I with "her" trophy!|
|Team shot after the race.|