Thunder on the Arkansas

by Jonah

I spent this weekend working as a corner marshal. That meant I wore a long sleeve white shirt, tan pants (I need to get some white ones), and stood all day in 99° heat in La Junta waving flags at cars.

Standing yellow means do not pass

In exchange for my service, I get to camp in a parking lot. We were awoken at 6 a.m. on Thursday by the sound of bulldozing concrete.

It’s loud.

At one point a car’s engine blew up on the track, leaving a giant track of oil. We had to go out and pour floor-dry on the oil and sweep it off the track. No one wants to race on a track slick with oil. Then another car’s engine blew up on the track. I was watching it happen. A Volkswagen Beetle in full Herbie colors started smoking profusely and pulled off into the paddock. He left behind another giant trail of oil. As we were sweeping, I mentioned that the situation reminded me of that scene in Cool Hand Luke. Someone laughed and said, “Calling it your job don’t make it right, Boss.”

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.

We ate at a restaurant on Friday and Saturday night, which is the first time we’ve been in a restaurant since March 11. The restaurants have every other table without chairs, and I think you’re supposed to wear masks until you’re seated. The first night we went to Boss Hog’gs, which has a $14.99 steak special but, more importantly, ice cold AmberBock on tap. The second night we went to the Mexico City Cafe. All the dishes there come with beans and vermicelli. The vermicelli tasted like spaghetti with Rotel. Is this a Mexican thing?

I prefer Mexico City Cafe over Boss Hogg’s, but neither one can compare to Lucy’s Tacos, which is, unfortunately, just a taco truck.

Berck came in second to last in all his races, but he completed them all, and didn’t run off the track! Well, in the last race, his fellow Formula Vee drivers Andy and Eric let him get in front of them, even though they’re faster. Eric tried to pull in front of Berck right before the checked flag, but Berck said he took his last corner so well that he finished in front of Eric anyway.

But they’re in different classes anyway, so Berck still came in 2nd to last.

On Saturday, some clouds mercifully rolled in, but right after the racing had ended for the day and I’d cracked open a beer, we were hit by an intense haboob. The wind was so intense that the only thing keeping the porto-potties flying away was the cable holding them to the ground, but that didn’t keep them from becoming airborne and turning sideways in the air.

Our tent and sheets were full of dirt. Then it started raining. Berck got on the phone and got us a motel room for our last night. Also we had showers. There wasn’t any hot water, but I wanted a cold shower anyway because I was so hot.

This race wasn’t supposed to happen. The first Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing race of the year scheduled for May got cancelled. The second one was supposed to be in Pueblo last weekend, but the city of Pueblo hadn’t allowed the racetrack there to open yet. But at the last minutes this race in La Junta got scheduled. Unfortunately, even though we got three inches of snow at our house in Divide on Tuesday, it is already full-on summer in La Junta.

The organizers cut all the races for today short, and I didn’t hear anyone complaining. We were glad to finally get out of the heat. Berck’s run group was first, so he was almost done packing everything up by the time I was done for the day. We had time to stop by Lucy’s Tacos one more time before leaving town, and I got a giant ice filled horchata for the ride home.

Taking up all the parking at Lucy’s Tacos

I tried to wear a mask and stay apart from people in the volunteer meetings. But it was really nice to do something fun after being at our house for so long. More photos here.

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