Chumpcar 24 Hour Enduro – Pikes Peak Raceway June 11-12 2011
”If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.” – Yogi Berra
The night finally yielded it’s awful power to the day, as it always does. The black sky broke apart, and was displaced by deep blue and purple hues. Slowly at first; then red, orange and yellow were added to the sky’s pallete. Quite suddenly, the sky lit up. Dawn had broken, revealing the survivors still circling the track at a blistering pace. The light offered relief from the fearsome darkness, and the drivers picked up the pace. The race was now in the final few hours.
At the pre-race drivers’ meeting Saturday, they told us that there might even be a couple of spectators in the stands. We laughed at the joke, because there just aren’t many spectators who go out to watch amateur road racing. All of the family and friends who turned out to support their teams would have pit passes. The stands, built to hold tens of thousands of spectators would remain completely empty.
And then they were spotted. At 7 AM on Sunday, two spectators were observed high in the upper rows of the bleachers. The race marshalls checked them out, and determined that they were unarmed and apparently harmless. The racing continued uninterrupted.
We ran all six of our drivers in the hours after dawn, until the end of the race. Each of us in turn put in our one-hour driving stints, pushing our home-built machine through the corners. Pushing is just the right word, too. Our MX-7, with a precision “piece of string” and tape measure alignment, running on crapped out highway rubber did nothing but push. Nothing short of getting seriously out shape in a corner would get the rear-end to even “think” about stepping out. The handling was only remarkable in that it was completely benign.
As we soon discovered, the loose handling and plowing would make it fast on the banked oval. It was there that most of our passing attempts would succeed. On the six infield turns, the plowing left us wishing we had tried a bit of a different suspension setup, and thirsting for at least a BIT more power. Any, even the slightest bit of acceleration there would’ve been a welcomed improvement. Still, we were racing, and we continued until the very last lap. My final stint ran through the 23rd hour, and Dennis finished out in the 24th, taking the checkered flag. We had met our goal: we had raced for 24 hours and had finished the race.
At the awards ceremony, our team was called upon to receive our sixth place award. Dennis stepped forward to accept our ball caps and certificate of accomplishment. I proudly donned my cap, knowing that this was one special hat. On it was written “Cometic Gasket”, but underneath it there was so much more. For in my head, the memories of what we had done were just beginning to take hold. Those memories will long be remembered with satisfaction and a smile. I had found my hat.
We gathered together as Dennis, our Captain held up the certificate. Seeing it, I couldn’t help but get a bit teary eyed, and straightened my shoulders a bit. For there, written on the green certificate, in large bold type were the words:
“$25 towards any purchase of Cometic Gasket or StreetPro Gasket Kits. Please include $8 for shipping and handling. Expires 6-5-12”
More was written as well, for handwritten in the upper right corner with a Sharpie pen was a very special dedication to our Team’s effort. In neat letters, it said: “6th place”. Wow!
We had come a long way together, to build the car and then race it. At every step, the outcome was uncertain. But we had come together as a team, and now we were quite proud to be just another bunch of Chumps. It doesn’t get any better than that.