Getting to the track

Loaded up

Thursday began my first of two vacation days from work.. And predictably, it began with a conference call for work, then 2 hours of stuff that had to get done before I left, then another 30 minute call to explain what to do in my absence. So much for a full day off.

After finishing up work, I loaded up the car and trailer. It is amazing how much crap you have to bring…Tools (lots of tools), extra parts, tables, tents, fluids, cleaners, funnels (yes, multiple funnels!) and more.

I had picked up a few items during the day, and was just left with filling up 2 fuel jugs with race fuel from the local Mobil, and getting some beef jerky, which is required for all drives more then 30 miles for me.

I stopped to get race gas at a Mobil station that I’d never been to before. A few indicators of how the weekend would progress began here:

– I can’t drive a trailer worth a damn. I’ve never had to. I can pull it around, and back it up in a field, but I’ll admit my backing skills in tight areas simply sucks. So, I pull into the gas station, find the race gas pump, and need to backup. I backup over the gas pump hose, and miss the pump by a good 3 inches.
– I get situated at the pump (by not being parked on the hose) and fill up a 5-gallon container with race gas. $5.99 a gallon. Let’s hear it for foreign oil (insert other political blog link here), whatever. As I go to put it into the back of the Jeep, I spill at least 64 cents of my new shiny fuel all over me, the back of the car, and the stuff inside the car.
Lesson learned: Fill up your new fuel jug with water, and make sure it doesn’t have any leaks, before filling it with gas and expecting it to be watertight.

So I get on the road to head Northwest, with a Jeep smelling like gas and not beef jerky. In my gas-spillage adventure, I forgot about the beef jerky. Oh well. The drive lasted about 30 miles into the 50 mile trip from Don’s house in Crystal Lake to Blackhawk (South Beloit, IL) before started raining. Then it started raining really really hard. I believe this was just after Don, via phone, said “wow, there’s a huge red band on the radar right where <click>.”

I tried finding an overpass or drive-thru to park the car under, as you can see it isn’t covered and the idea of everything being soaked wasn’t too appealing. Alas, I’m in the middle of nowhere with a few grain silos, lots of trees, a tornado here or there, and no cover from the rain. Everything gets wet and dirty.

Trip to Blackhawk, in the rain

I got to the track early, but couldn’t get inside as there was a test day going on. My rain tires were inside the track, courtesy of Andy @ Schulz Motorsports, which I planned to get mounted today for the rain tomorrow. A series of unfortunate events led me to not being able to get the tires until after the tire shop near the track was closed. Oops.

The SCCA registration folks were great – I clearly was lost. Marry Ann, Sue and Bob were very patient with me to get everything straight. My novice permit logbook was sent to my PO Box in Ohio, but arrived only after I had left for Chicago. Apparently showing up to race without a license or any paperwork is not cool. But, after a few phone calls, some printouts, and offering my first-born I was ok with the powers that be.

Once inside the track, I started getting things setup. It was rainy, and everything was soaked as expected. I also learned another valuable lesson: Setup everything beforehand to make sure it works. One of the ez-up tents that Don had bought was missing a leg. Luckily, a bungee cord, a tie-down-strap, and the trailer worked to hold it up. Once Don and Michelle arrived, I was clearly explained the downsides of my half-ass-structure-job. I’m not an engineer. Both of them are engineers. Whatever, you dorks, it held up.

After getting everything together at the track, we ventured to the lodging facility Michelle had arranged for us. I refrain from saying motel, or hotel, because I’m not sure what to call this place. In my travels for work, I experience some crappy places to stay. Some have smoky non-smoking rooms, some have loud traffic all night long, some have a lobby that scares me. This place had everything, and everything worse. I’m going to save my writing on this establishment for or Let’s just say Michelle wore her flip-flops the entire time while in the room, and no one looked up once I questioned why there was silly string on the ceiling in our room. Uhm…Right.

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