We made our trip to the arctic Canaan New Hampshire Friday. We turned on the propane heater to get the chill out of the trailer since this was what we were calling home for the night. With the temperatures around a balmy -20 degrees out, our un-insulted trailer was around 40 degrees for the night, which was tolerable but not the best.
The morning consisted of thawing out our bones and running around trying to figure out every thing we needed to do in order to start the race. As we unloaded the trailer the guy next to us asked for help to jump his car. Being the nice people we are we drove the car over and tried helping him out. We ended up getting stuck but then we realized the big rookie mistake that might of just ended our day. Gravel tires.... What we didn't know is gravel tires are only suppose to be used above freezing temps. Since the gravel tires are as soft as the Schwalbe magic marys, they were frozen. When we tried to get the car unstuck the tires were self destructing, since the compound was so soft and the temps were so cold the tire was just shredding itself. We were told that might of ended our day and we were completely heart broken but I still drove the car through inspection to find out. WE PASSED! Even though we passed I was reminded all day long about the troubles we were going to have with my tire choice.
What's cool about this sport is everyone that's racing is also working while they when driving. This helps to keep entry fees low. After we figured out our job we headed to "bucket 5", essentially cone duty, Anytime someone hits a cone, we set it back up in the exact spot it was and notify a person with a radio so that driver earns a time penalty. Whats also cool about working 1st shift is that you can see the lines that burn in and kinda figure out what you need to do to stay on course.
FINALLY the moment we have been waiting for all day! Its our groups turn to race, but the waiting didn't stop. Each car has a number for a "pit stop area" what we were told happened was too many cars not enough spots so it got a little confusing. Learning when it was our turn is also some thing we are still trying to figure out. Its not as easy as Brain Pleva saying "rider 690 in the gate" but we finally were waved in for our turn. Of course we rush to throw on our harnesses and helmets as we were rolling toward the line. The gate man lines you up and essentially you go when you're told. AND WE'RE OFF. The 1st corner comes and its SLICK! At this point we were looking to move fast but stay in control and save the cones, we get half way through the track and the track opens up and we hammer it! Seems like you're going so fast but when you look down you might be doing 30MPH. Then its a hard left hand turn into some off camber stuff, we work our way through that and its home stretch and we floor it . We look at the clock and we get a 118.904 AKA SLOW. And at this point we have totally understood what everyone meant by good luck on our tires. They were frozen solid with zero grip and very unpredictable. With what seemed like forever, We got to go back out for our second turn.With more understanding of track conditions we were more aggressive but still trying to feel every thing out. 2nd run we scored a 115.593 which is still pretty slow but we were so stoked to see the improvement.
Lunch time / 3rd shift:
We parked the car and went into the building that was serving lunch. More importantly, we warmed up. While sitting at lunch, you can tell you're at a car race. All the conversations in the background has everything to do with cars. Then we had to go back out on the course and work good 'ol bucket 5. While we watched we were shocked at how well front wheel drive cars performed on the ice, in some cases we thought they handled turns better then the all wheel drive cars.
Back to the driver seat:
We finally got back into the car for our last three chances at laying down some low times. As we sat in the car we were going over the course in our heads to try to shave some time. Coming into it much more aggressive off the bat we could tell we were doing better. Trying to remember to brake late and with your left foot and hit the gas hard but not to spin out. While doing all that we are doing every thing we can to keep the car going straight, those tires definitely weren't helping. Our 3rd lap we ended up with a 106.731 which we thought was a huge improvement from our last times. Going into our 4th lap we pushed it a little harder and it was noticeably harder to keep the car on the icy track. In some spots we got a little out of hand but kept the wheels spinning, manage to stay on course and not killing any cones and passing the finish line at 50mph with a 103.666. Last run of the day, we gave it all we had and it got messy, we took out one cone costing us a 2sec add on but we think it actually saved us some time due to the way the course was set up. Last run of the day we got a time of 103.348.
End of day:
As we packed up every thing we just looked back on the quick day and thought of how much fun we had. Went from freezing in a trailer all night to racing a car on a icy track with destroyed tires. It was great to see our progression throughout the day, too. We started with a lap time of 118.904 and our last lap time was a 103.348, with a total time of 550.242. We finished 12th out of 13th and we missed the leader Vaughn Micciche, an old ESC racer by 38.313 seconds. We have a lot to learn and a journey ahead of us - our goal is to land a top three spot by the end of the season!
A big thank you to the Dealmeida family for coming out and sticking it out with me for the night.
Sam Titus, even though Sam wasn't there he had given me a helmet and arranged for it to be at the race for me.