Friday, May 05, 2006


Stickshifts and safety belts

Just a quick recap on last weekend. If you would like me to go into detail on something, just ask and I might fulfill your request.

We were supposed to arrive at 8 am on Saturday, so we left the house at 6:30-6:45 am to make sure we got there on time. I had only packed shorts and t-shirts because I figured it would be typical southern April weather, warm and nice. Nope, overcast and a tad chilly. But I soldiered on in my shorts and finally the sun came out and warmed us up to the mid 70's. We arrived and had to wait on someone in charge of the workers to show up with our tickets and parking passes. Done. We need a few guys directing traffic (yuck) and we need another guy to hand out these goodie bags to people as they come in (sounds like my kind of job). So I say nothing and let the two guys who are friends and want to work together the chance to take the traffic job. So I helped load up boxes of these goodie bags onto a golf cart and proceed to hand them out. They also wanted me to sell programs at $3/each, and I sold one. But it's much easier to give free things out, so I focused on that, and I was fairly certain that after all the bags were gone, I would be free to roam around. So I started handing those out at 8:30 and by 11:30, they were all gone. Then the head guy came back around and asked if I had gotten them all. Yes, I found a handcart and lugged the rest over. Awesome. So what do you want me to do next? Oh, you're done. Money.

So then called the guy I came down with and met him at the car. Had some of my snack lunch, an apple, some chips, some water. Then we started walking around. Went down to the paddocks where all the race teams keep their trailers and motor homes and work on the cars while they're not racing. Some great pics and some gorgeous cars. My favorite would have to be this one:

and this is a big reason it's so fast

GIGANTIC super sticky tires! But this is Jacques Villeneuve's old F1 car and it currently holds the Road Atlanta track record. It literally lapped half the field when it was on course. And hearing those F1 upshifts and downshifts literally gave me goosebumps.

(Okay, just measured my hand and in the position that it's in in that pic, it's about 5 inches wide and it looks like it would fit at least 2 more times. Big tires.)

Watched a few races, got too close to the race with the old Mustangs, Corvettes and Porsches and realized that I am definitely bringing earplugs next time. Those V8s are LOUD!

Then wandered out to the autocross course where some of the other guys we know were working the autocross sponsored by Kumho who brought out 3 Minis on 3 different tires. I didn't notice if they were S's or not, too many other cool cars. But I was standing talking to them and the Kumho guy came up and shook my hand and said thanks. Um, okay, you're welcome? But we all went into Kumho's trailer and put our names down and I think I'm getting a free shirt out of that deal. Inside they had some monster rims and tires. He said they were 26s or 28s but pretty much Hummers are the only vehicle that can fit a wheel that big under it's fender. Crazy. So we hung out with them a bit and found a free tire hook-up for the club, which is a big deal. Tires are expensive.

Then we went back to our tent and hung out until dinner started. We had some trouble getting in because we didn't have the right "credentials" but the head worker came over and said that it was okay if we went in. Damn right! They had a chocolate fountain (which more and more I'm realizing is not a good idea outside) with some pretzels and assorted fruit for dipping. They also had multiple coolers of water, soda, tons of beer, and a wine table which had some very good sangria, so that's what I started with. Then we see people starting a line, so we move over. Luckily it was the meat line, prime rib or turkey, or both, then the pickles, pickled peppers, pickled mushrooms (yummy), then the cheese tray, then the fruit tray. They had 3 different tables setup and no real flow pattern to any of them. And one of the tables had in-shell boiled shrimp which seemed like too much work what with the long line and then the peeling of the shrimp, so I passed. The salad was laughable. It was shredded iceberg lettuce (ala Taco Bell or Subway) and 6 to 7 pieces of spring greens, so I tried to get as much of the dark leafy veggies as I could. Cheese balls and a decent spinach dip. But the desserts. Oh the desserts.

Chocolate cake with a delicious whipped frosting and carrot cake with a super rich cream cheese icing. Both very good, but I could only fit one piece of each. I didn't want to get Thanksgiving stuffed, that's rarely fun.

They had a live band and they played some songs. Some people danced. But after we were done eating, we sat around and then we saw the dartboards. So we headed over there. And of course this whole time we're drinking the free beer. I personally drank Amstel Light, St. Pauli Girl, Dos Equis, and I think that's about it. But there was also Harp Lager, Bud, Bud light, Miller lite, Coors lite, MGD, Fosters, and I'm sure there were one or two more. And Bass. Quite a selection.

Dinner started at 6:30. We were all buzzin and playin darts by 9. Then the organizers and head honcho types came in and started playing darts too. I think I called it a night at 11:30 or so. We did have to get up and work again, so I layed off the beer and switched to water, and wasn't hungover, but I wasn't stupid drunk either. You're welcome liver. And I even won a few games of darts.

Forgot my pillow. Had to use balled up clothes. Slept okay. "Hey Jealousy" by the Gin Blossoms was one guy's alarm and we heard it at least 6 times. So we get up, head to McDonald's for breakfast, come back, hang out and then me and another guy get traffic control. It's not that bad except that we don't have light sticks or a vest saying that we're actual workers and not crazy guys on the road. But Sunday is pretty dead anyway and most people were there on Saturday so they know the drill.

We give up around 11 am and go over to the autocross which is now with Lotus Elises! It was amazing. Off-throttle oversteer, 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds, amazing car. No cockpit space. You have to know the proper way to get in and out of the car, otherwise it's impossible or you'll break the windshield. Tiny steering wheel, great stereo with great speaker placement. Snug seats and brushed aluminum everywhere. This would be a good day trip car, great track day car, and a great autocross car. I don't think driving cross-country in an Elise is the best idea. But it's possible.

So I drove the Elise around the little track 6 times, we ate some lunch, then we went home. Got home at 6 pm. Unpacked some, showered, then watched War at Home (sorry Michael, but your show isn't that funny, but it had its moments) and then remember watching the first 5 minutes of Family Guy and next thing I know it's 5:30 am and J is moving around the bedroom. I finally got up about 7. So went to sleep at 9-9:15 and woke up at 7. Solid 10 hours. It was sublime.

Happy Friday!


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