Rally for the Lane

Monday, October 17th 2022 at 6:14 pm
by Berck

Photos are up in the gallery. Now that nachzen.net lives in the cloud (and even fronted by Cloudflare), the gallery should be reasonably fast. Even if still somewhat ugly and dated. I’d kind of abandoned it for awhile in favor of Google Photos because it was so slow, but I also hate that Google Photos doesn’t have a decent “here are all of my shared albums” front end. But it does have the ability to search photos with something other than whatever I might have tagged them with. I’ll try to migrate some of the Google Photo albums back to the Gallery. I’ll need to survey the photo-hosting landscape to see if there’s something more modern for self-hosted photos. On the other hand, it kind of fits with the whole aesthetic of the blog, which continues to run the hacked “theme” from the first version of WordPress. It’s like a time capsule at this point.

Another web hosting note: Google disabled support for Feedburner, which is what I’d been using for e-mail notifications. I migrated the subscriber list to a new tool only to discover after it sent out its first email that there are ads. Which is not acceptable. I’ll see if I can switch to locally generated email again without ads. Given the fact that nachzen.net isn’t particularly reputable, I’m unsure if I can manage to make it generate email that won’t just be tossed into your spam bucket.

The weather on the way to Nashville was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky, cool temperatures, and even a tailwind the whole way. But the gods of General Aviation always seek to remind us that traveling cross-country in a Cherokee is not practical, so I should have been ready.

As I approached the El Dorado airport, I let Wichita approach know that I had it in sight, canceled IFR and set up for a midfield downwind entry to runway 2. An aircraft reported 5 miles south of the field, and I briefly worried they’d attempt a straight-in approach and conflict with my more-friendly midfield pattern entry. I needn’t have worried as they reported me insight and said they’d follow me in from a downwind entry of their own.

I came screaming onto downwind at 110 knots, because there was no one in front of me and 110 knots in a Cherokee is just like 250 knots in the jet. Or something. I pulled power to 1800 rpm to avoid cooling the engine too fast, and worked in some flaps as the airspeed dropped below 100. I kept it high and tight to make sure not to hold up the folks behind me. By the time I rolled out on final, I was high and still fast at 75 knots. Not a problem, because if a Cherokee is good at anything, it’s slowing down. I made sure the carb heat was on, even though the outside air temp showed 81F, and pulled the power to idle. Shortly after doing so, I realized that while the propeller was still windmilling, that the engine was *not* idling. I’d never had this happen before, and if you’d asked me, the flight instructor in me would have told you that you can’t tell if an engine quits on final when you’ve already got the power at idle.

This turns out to be false. I could absolutely tell, but if you’re slightly less attuned to the sounds/feels of your particular aircraft you might not be able to. Jonah, from the passenger seat for instance, did not notice the engine quit. I was in a fine position to land even with the prop windmilling, but my immediate instinct was two-fold: (1) keep that engine running in case you need it, and (2) did it *really* quit or am I imagining things? I shoved the throttle forward and after half a second, it restarted and produced power normally. Now, even higher, I went ahead and pulled it back to idle again to land. The engine quit again, and once I was in the flare, I was worried about being able to clear the runway and taxi back to the fuel pumps, so I added power again, and it restarted. Only, I couldn’t land like with power that, so I pulled it back to idle and let it die again.

After touching down, I managed to get clear of Runway 2 onto the crosswind runway, which would at least allow the folks behind me to land. As I turned off the runway, I added power too late to keep it running and it died completely. I was able to get it restarted with the starter, but taxiing in, it just wouldn’t run below about 1,800rpm. No amount of playing with the mixture made it happy.

My first thought was that this was related to the fact that I was running with automobile gasoline instead of avgas. It’s cheaper, lead-free, and my choice of fuel given that my plane came with the STC that makes it legal to run. But a couple of times before on very hot days, I’d had some trouble with fuel vaporization while waiting for takeoff. Even though the engine was cool and not hot, and it wasn’t a particularly hot day, I managed to convince myself that was the issue. So, once I got to the fuel pumps, I went ahead and filled one of the tanks with avgas, even though the only reason I’d decided to stop at El Dorado was the readily-available mogas. I still put the $1/gallon cheaper mogas in one wing, reasoning that it had never caused me trouble in the air before, and the other wing full of blue gas would eliminate the possibility that mogas was causing the problem.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, after refueling, the problem did not go away. I did a high-power runup for a few minutes to make sure I cycled through any mogas in the lines, but the engine still refused to run correctly below about 1,800 rpm. I could force it to run lower with a mixture sitting at near-cutoff and a throttle setting too-high for the desired RPM. I briefly considered that it didn’t seem to cause a problem at high power settings, so I should just continue to Nashville and try to get it repaired there. This is a stupid and potentially fatal line of reasoning, so I parked the plane out of the way on the ramp and pulled the cowl.

I first wanted to make sure there wasn’t a gaping intake manifold leak or something obvious causing the problem. I reasoned that it seemed a lot more like it was running rich than lean, and I started peering at the carburetor wondering where the idle mixture adjustments were and if maybe the float was stuck when a fellow wandered up and asked, “Do you need help?” he asked. “Is there a mechanic on the field?” to which he replied, “I am.”

He’d witnessed my unsuccessful attempts to get it to idle and immediately suggested a stuck carburetor float and suggested that whacking on the float bowl might dislodge it. This sounded very reasonable to me, only I had nothing with which to whack. He trotted off to his hangar and reappeared with an assortment of hammers.

We spent a while attempting percussive carburetor adjustments, starting the plane with no change, and re-attempting hammering. After a few times, we both agreed that wasn’t likely to fix the situation. I asked if he would disassemble the carburetor so that we could see if the float was stuck, or if there were some other similar problem. He politely refused, saying that his approach to carburetors was simply to replace them if they didn’t work. My approach to carburetors is to take them apart, clean them, and put them back together again which tends to solve everything wrong with them. And this carburetor was likely to be much, much simpler than the ones I’m used to disassembling. But I’m not allowed to work on my own FAA-certified airplane, because I’m not an FAA-certified mechanic.

My new mechanic called an aircraft parts shop in Wichita that said they could get a carburetor overnight. Wichita is sort of aviation central, with almost all of the U.S. based aircraft manufacturers based there, but still, this was lucky. I was prepared to have to rent a car and drive all day to Nashville.

Overall, it worked out much better than I would have imagine. I’d stopped in El Dorado a half-dozen times before and almost never saw another human being there, and here was a mechanic on demand who was able to fix my plane overnight! Things could have gone much worse. I asked the airport manager if I could take the courtesy car overnight. He said that normally wouldn’t be a problem at all, but there was a fly-in of sorts that evening and he wasn’t sure if it might be needed to shuttle folks to nearby hotels. He let us borrow it, but asked that we come back in a few hours to see if anyone needed hotel rides.

The hotel available with the fewest credit card points turned out to be a disaster. Both rooms they attempted to give us had smoke alarms chirping every 60 seconds. He tried to offer us a third room, but I refused. Normally, it’s impossible to cancel a room like this, and smoke alarms chirping sounded like I might need to work to make a case. But fortunately, I’d reserved a room with a king bed and they didn’t have any of those available. I don’t mind sleeping in a room with a queen bed at all, but this is the sort of excuse that easily gets me out of the reservation. It worked, and we moved across the street to the Super 8, which was clearly owned by the same people, but was $10 more expensive, seemed quite a bit nicer and had no chirping smoke alarms.

We hung out at the fly-in for a little bit where a taco truck provided dinner. We didn’t stick around for the screening of Airplane on a giant projection screen set up in one of the hangars, and the airport manager let us keep the car overnight.

The plane was ready to go the next afternoon… I recommend refueling in El Dorado.

I remember damage

Wednesday, September 28th 2022 at 10:55 pm
by Jonah

Berck woke up with a sore throat on Monday last week. He took a rapid test and tested negative. But he was miserable all week. I brought him home chicken soup from Chick-fil-a, along with a chicken to make him chicken tortellini soup, except I didn’t have any tortellini, so I used ravioli that had been in the freezer since spring 2020 when I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get any floatable stuffed pasta in my grocery pick up order, so I ordered all four possibilities and then ended up with all of them. This was in the days of the mystery shopping bags that the hard working grocery employee would load into the trunk of the newer Audi, while I sat in the driver’s seat wearing a bandanna over my face and thinking, Please don’t get closer than six feet to my window.

Berck has been bitching about all the things filling up the freezer, so it was a good time to use the ravioli. They were covered in ice crystals, so I carefully rinsed each raviolo off before tossing it in the soup.

Berck complained of sleeplessness and also fatigue, and then I started making him take cough syrup because, yes, you are actually coughing and just because one of us can’t sleep doesn’t mean both of us can’t.

On Friday he was feeling better, which was good because the airshow was Saturday and Sunday, and we’d been looking forward to going to it ever since Jess said he wouldn’t be able to fix Berck’s crashed race car until after the Pueblo race, which was scheduled for the same weekend. I was hoping to be able to finish sanding the crashed nose of the race car on whichever day we didn’t go to airshow.

But Saturday I woke up with a sore throat and overflowing sinuses. I guess the incubation period was five days. I spent most of the day in bed drifting in and out of sleep feeling really lousy. Berck had impatiently complained that we couldn’t watch the HBO miniseries Station Eleven until I had read the book, which he had bought for me and I had apparently completely forgotten that I was supposed to have read it.

I didn’t feel like doing anything else, so I started reading Station Eleven.

This was a mistake.

Saturday night Berck asked if I’d gotten far enough in the book to watch the first episode, and I replied that I’d read about half. He decided that was good enough. The problem is that neither the book nor the television series are told in chronological order. But the television series is aggressively adapted (according to the show runner), so it turns out that, despite the both of us having read the book, we still don’t know what’s going to happen next. I’m not convinced this is a terribly bad thing, as the mini-series has introduced some really engaging and satisfying plot points. (Also, it took me a weekend to read the book. The television show is way, way longer than that.) It’s like someone read the book halfway through and then decided to write the rest themselves, kinda like DALLĀ·E 2 trying to finish the Sistine Chapel, but make it “better“.

Mackenzie Davis is a perfect Kirsten (well, except for too much hair and teeth). She’s bad-ass and a little hysterical… and Canadian! The original is set in Toronto, but HBO has to set it in Chicago for its American audience.

Now, I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic narrative, and I always try to be prepared. I’ve been asking for a cross-bow for Christmas since I was a kid, and no one will buy me one. But I’m telling you that reading the first half of a book about how everyone dies of the flu and then watching the first episode of the mini-series based on the book while you’ve got the worst cold you’ve had in a year was a bad idea. Of course, it might have been the methamphetamines, I mean, pseudoephedrine, but I spent the night having intense dreams about knife throwing and then not really being able to breathe all that well. (Also, I need to practice gutting animals. I’ve been taught how to do it, but never actually done it myself. I know the important thing is not to rupture the gastro-intestinal tract. The one thing I know first hand is that, the moment you kill the animal, all the fleas immediately jump off it.)

Berck ended up going to the airshow without me, because by Sunday he was feeling peachy (he said it was the best weather for an airshow he’d ever been to). I got up and tried to do some dishes and laundry and then went back to bed and also finished the book. Berck and I have a deal that I clean the kitchen but I do it when I want to, and I really didn’t want to. So Berck has been cleaning the kitchen, which he does while sighing loudly. He also likes to listen to records when he’s in the kitchen, so if I position myself by a speaker, I can’t hear his constant sighing. He cooked me dinner, and I had a few bites. On Monday I heated up the soup I had made him, but I only had a few ravioli and put the rest of my bowl away because I didn’t feel like eating.

I now know that ravioli is the plural and raviolo is the singular, because in Station Eleven Jeevan is a a paparazzo, or otherwise known as a member of the paparazzi.

On Tuesday I had to drive down to Colorado Springs because I’m in the Novavax trial and they get very excited if I get sick because they want me to catch COVID so they can see if their vaccine is working. So even though I felt awful and hadn’t gotten much sleep, I drove down, nearly hitting a deer on our road. I was scared driving on the interstate because I felt like I couldn’t focus. But I survived. They had me sit in my car in the ally behind the clinic. Angel, the best phlebotomist at the clinic, came out dressed head to toe in PPE. She asked if I had been hydrating, and I admitted that while I had brought a bottle of water with me and had been planning to, I had forgotten to (the driving was hard enough to concentrate on). It probably helped that I was sitting in the sun so my veins were near the surface, and she got some blood in each of her many vials. “We just need a little,” she said. But when she took my forehead’s temperature, it was over 99. And when she took my pulse ox, it said 88%. I suspect that might have been because I was wearing a KN-95 in an attempt to keep from infecting anyone else. She had me briefly walk briskly, and it went up to 94%, which is about normal for me at 6,000 feet. She gave me a nasal swab. The physician’s assistant came out without even a mask and gave me a short physical. She listened to my lungs while I breathed and said they sounded fine. The trial coordinator said he would let me know if I tested positive but that it was taking him about 3 weeks to get PCR results back. He asked me to let him know if I tested on my own and came out positive. (I took my temperature for the vaccine trial testing app that night, and my forehead temperature was normal.)

I stopped by the office and someone brought some checks out to me that I needed to mail out, along with some envelopes.

Berck was curious, so he had me take an expired rapid test, though that meant I had to listen to him heavily sigh as he cleaned the kitchen while I was waiting around for 15 minutes.

Pretty darn negative

I woke up in the middle of the night last night coughing uncontrollably, so I made my way to the bathroom as quietly as I could to down some Tussin DM and then went back to sleep in the other bedroom, because if one of us can’t sleep, it doesn’t mean the other person doesn’t get to either.

Today I felt much better, which is about how Berck felt five days in. I actually ate something, and we watched the penultimate episode of Station Eleven. I’m actually really curious about how it will end, since the book and television series have taken completely different routes. Will they end up with the same result just by different means?

I’ve found it funny and sad that the television show hasn’t really had to work hard at finding sets of rusting and overgrown abandoned buildings. They’re everywhere in North America. Perhaps we’re already post-peak civilization.

But any post-apocalyptic narrative where humanity lives on is probably a happy ending. Unlike my new favorite podcast, which I’ve listened through twice now: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/105-the-end-of-the-world-with-30006093/

The best pizza is made in the ovens that hold the souls of a million pizzas

Friday, September 9th 2022 at 9:02 pm
by Jonah

I like to say that Berck makes the best Italian style pizza in the time zone. I say that because Arizona isn’t on daylight saving time. The best pizza in the hemisphere is actually Pizzeria Bianco, which has been on our list of places to go for probably over fifteen years. Unfortunately, eating there requires a 7 hour wait in line in Phoenix. That’s hard.

But now it’s probably even more impossible, because of this Netflix doc we just watched, and which I can’t help but highly recommend.

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/restaurants/watch-phoenixs-famous-pizza-maker-chris-bianco-on-netflix-chefs-table-14395540

Rally Colorado

Monday, July 25th 2022 at 12:49 pm
by Berck

The prep for Rally Colorado was complicated by the fact that the Race Against Kids’ Cancer in the Vee is the very next weekend. That meant I had to prepare two race cars before the event. Rally Colorado was a 5.5 hour tow away.  There are some pretty intense mountain passes between here and there with some first-gear switchbacks.

Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon

The service park for Rally Colorado was in a very green park in the middle of town. It takes a lot of watering to get grass like this on the western slope.

We checked in Thursday afternoon and spent 4 hours doing first pass recce for the first 3 stages. Rally Colorado is nice and simple with a single service park, 3 stages run twice on Saturday and another 3 stages twice on Sunday. We headed to our AirBNB in Utah and got some pizza and beer for dinner in Vernal.

Our scrutineering time block was 9:45 – 11:00am on Friday morning. We hoped it wouldn’t take much time, but boy were we wrong. It took about a half an hour wait for them to get to us, and it took us another 2 hours to get through. We needed to fix 3 things: a hole in my seat cover exposed some foam. They were happy with us patching it with gaffer’s tape. They couldn’t see the date on my fire bottle, so I needed to remove one of the metal straps that was covering it. In retrospect, I don’t understand why they wanted to see the date on the fire bottle–nothing in the rules says anything about the date on the SFI-certified onboard fire suppression systems. There is a note that says dry powder systems must be serviced annually (and my two handheld systems were), but nothing about the gas-filled on-board system. Finally, they complained about gaps in the rear firewall where the cage tubes penetrate. We “fixed” the latter with a bunch of speed tape. It took at least 3 attempts with more speed tape before they were finally happy with it.

Recce on Friday was long, hot and dusty. Probably extra frustrating for Jack since I basically had no idea what I was doing.

We managed a second pass through all of Saturday’s stages, but only a first pass through Sunday’s before we needed to be at Parc Expose. Which was also long, hot and dusty.

After that, we were instructed to parade up and down the main street of Rangely. A bunch of kids were there to watch, and some of the better-prepared crews even had candy to throw.

Sunday morning, all ready to go. We managed an off-by-one error where our start position of #27 meant that we were out at 10:26, not 10:27. Fortunately, I also simultaneously made the error of pulling up to the time control a couple of seconds early, and even though Jack handed them the card at 10:27:00, they gave it to us.

The first stage went fine despite my having absolutely no idea what to do. I started to get the hang of the notes by the end rather than just driving what I could see. It’s incredibly satisfying to be able to trust “right 6 over crest” when all I can see is the crest. We got close enough to the novice crew in front of us that the last 30 seconds were pretty scary with completely unpredictable moments of zero visibility.

At some point the voltage meter pegged at 17 volts, which seemed bad, but not bad enough that I was going to do anything about it. When we got the ATC for the second stage, I killed the car, but left the master switch on to run the cooling fan. Only, everything died with exactly no electrical power. I frantically examined the fuse for the signal wire to the solenoid, but it was good. The problem was more obvious: the negative battery terminal had become disconnected. Easy enough to put it back on to get the car running, but I didn’t have a wrench to tighten it down more.

The only other minor gripe about the car in the first couple of stages was the shift knob kept coming off. I have no idea why BMW makes everything so complicated, but I couldn’t figure out how the shift knob was supposed to work. What’s wrong with a threaded-on knob?

The second stage went even better. Where the first stage was fairly tight and slow, the second one had some long stretches of fast, open bits. I’m sure that with some confidence it could be taken close to flat out in this car, but as it was, our maximum speed of 82mph was plenty terrifying.

The third stage included a truly scary section with a crest, which if taken straight-on, would lead to a jump off a mountain. It was marked with caution signs, and we’d decided early on that we’d just slow to a crawl for that section. No problems there. A HAM-licensed (but still suspenderless) friend was working the radio checkpoint at a T-intersection where we turn right through a cattle guard. A perfect opportunity for a handbrake turn, but also a perfect opportunity slight right into the uprights on the cattle guard. I attempted the handbrake turn while Jack hit the horn, but didn’t commit hard enough. The car only rotated about 45 degrees then started pushing. Lame. Fortunately, I was also going slow enough that I didn’t hit anything.

After that the road opened up a bit, and I sped up and shifted into third. The HLA noise the car makes when the oil gets hot seemed to be getting even louder, and the car seemed low on power. I downshifted, but the car wouldn’t accelerate at all, even at 5,500rpm on mostly flat ground. The oil pressure was the same crappy 25psi it always is when it gets hot. I shifted back into 3rd and the power loss continued over the next 30 seconds until there was just nothing. I put the clutch in and the engine died immediately. So, I pulled off the side of the road and our rally was over.

It would crank fine, but something sounded off. Oil level was still at the top of the dip stick. I figured we spun a bearing, given the low oil pressure.

There had been some weird reshuffling of order after ATC but before start that no one explained or consulted us about. We were moved to last place, even though our times were faster than a couple of the other novices. Fortunately they also switched to 2-minute starts, so we were no longer in any danger of catching anyone. And it meant that we only had to wait for sweep to come pick us up. There was also another competitor who’d been stopped on stage that managed to get going again.

Amazingly, we actually had mobile phone service and I was able to get Jonah and Dan to come pick us up with the trailer at the end of the stage. Sweep also towed us at a terrifying 40mph, which was problematic given that there was enough dust that we couldn’t even see the tow vehicle at times. Fortunately we survived.

We got back to service after the other cars headed back out on stage. The other service crews were all anxious to discover what had happened.

Dan pulled the spark plugs, and one of them really didn’t want to come out. Once it did, it became obvious that the problem wasn’t a bearing.

The cylinder was just full of mangled/melted metal. I’m guessing there was some kind of detonation event. Not really sure what would cause it in one cylinder–maybe a clogged injector that caused that cylinder to go lean?

I’ve now done what seems like an insane amount of work to get to drive about 40 minutes on stage, and I’m faced with a lot more. I do, at least, have a vague idea of what it’s actually like to drive in a rally now, and the taste was enough that I want more.

Someone had kittens, suggesting that kittens make everything better. It didn’t hurt:

Beer helped too:

I’m not really sure what to do next. I’ll pull the M42 and see if it’s rebuildable. I wouldn’t be surprised if both the head and the block are beyond repair. People keep saying that M42s are easy to come by, but I’m not exactly seeing a bunch of them available for good prices. M20s seem much easier to come by, but if I’m going to go through the trouble of a 6 cylinder swap, should I pick something more modern like an M52?

Biggest factors are: I don’t want to spend the rest of my life getting this thing running again. I don’t know anything about BMW’s, which makes me wonder if diving right into a engine swap is the best plan. Dropping another M42 in there seems like the easiest thing, but will I regret not having taken the time to do the swap once I actually figure out how to drive it? There’s absolutely no chance of my ever placing in L2WD, so it’s not like switching to O2WD would be a big deal.

Quart of milk

Saturday, June 25th 2022 at 11:06 am
by Jonah

“You gotta get that quart of milk, man!”

Everyone was packing up at the end of the Bill Miller Tribute Race at High Plains, and Nick was trying to talk Berck into coming to the SVRA race at Indy a month later. He said Lori was thinking about going, using Nick’s two-car trailer and her tow vehicle, and that Berck should come too, since Elliott Barron had promised to let us us have our own class for the faster RMVR Vees, or what the folks, who run using Monoposto rules, call “FV1” cars. “The three of us could be on the podium! At Indy!” All we needed were four cars.

So a month later we were on the 16 and a half hour drive (including stopping at the airport for leaded fuel). Elliott Barron had rented out some track-side garages for us to pit in (you can fit a lot of Formula Vees in one garage!). We got everything situated and then went to our Airbnb that Berck had managed to find, which was only a 12 minute walk to the track gate. Lori’s husband flew in from Colorado and her sister had driven in from Ohio. We all walked the couple of blocks to a restaurant on Main Street Speedway, where Lori told our waitress, “I’m racing at Indy!” and then went to the nearby ice cream shop, where she also told the staff, “I’m racing at Indy!” I told the story of how Berck had missed out on the podium experience at COTA last year, driving back to the Vee pits way out in the parking lot, since he had learned from racing with RMVR that in vintage racing there was nothing to win except the respect of your fellow drivers. On the other hand, it turns out SVRA awards medals, hats, bottles of Champagne, and bags of race car-shaped Mission tortilla chips. And at Indy, milk bottles.

Friday was practice, so Elliott Barron led the slow Vees out in his super shiny Pegasus, his son E.O. took the faster Vees, and his other son Hunter took the fastest cars. At home Berck had been practicing the course on iRacing, but unfortunately, it was a different configuration than the one being used this weekend.

Nick and Berck ready to go on track

I met Lori as she returned from practice and offered to help her push her car back into the garage, but she was too busy excitedly describing the course to me. Second practice was in the afternoon. My favorite part of the day was watching the pre-war Indy cars do parade laps.

We ended the day at a brewery/pizza restaurant on Main Street, where Lori told our waitress, “I’m racing at Indy tomorrow!”

Saturday morning was qualifying. Berck had to fix his brakes afterward, only to discover he had a busted brake line. Fortunately, the Barrons had a spare, and he replaced it without too much difficulty, especially with me to help him bleed the brakes.

Afterward we went over to the museum, where one exhibit explains that the 1933 winner of the Indy 500 sipped on a quart of buttermilk that his mother had sent with him so he could rehydrate after racing. Buttermilk is not offered as a choice for current Indy 500 winners; you have to choose among whole, 2%, or skim, though some drivers request chocolate milk but do not get it. Seeing the evolution of race cars, from basically wagons, that had replaced a horse with a motor, to the carbon fiber engineering marvels of today, was definitely worth admission. Lori told the ladies at the ticket counter that she was racing today, and they said they’d look for her out the museum window.

Nick qualified in P2 in his limey green Bandersnatch, behind the much faster Formula Continental that didn’t have anyone else to race with, and Berck in P3. The two of them decided to give the Continental plenty of room to get out in front of them at the start for the afternoon race.

Berck’s Zink and Nick’s Bandersnatch

There was a scary moment where I watched Simon, one of the CVAR drivers, fly off the track and into a tire barrier, which triggered a safety car. The marshals were unable to reconstruct the tire barrier in time, and the race finished behind the safety car. The Barrons swept the podium for the FV class. The workers on pit lane told Nick that there wasn’t a podium for FV1 and directed him to the paddock, but he drove into the winner’s circle anyway; Berck followed him. Lori, who had managed to finish ahead of the only other car in the “FV1” class, had gone back to the garages. I asked some spectators in the grandstands where the podium was and then hurried over to the other side of the Pagoda. Nick saw me and told me to go get Lori, “Quickly!”

I hurried all the way back to the garages. “Lori!” I shouted, “We’ve got to get you to the podium! Hurry!” I found an empty golf cart with a key in it (I have the Barrons’ permission to drive any of their golf carts). Lori’s husband Jeff sat shotgun and figured out how to put the cart into reverse for me. Lori had disappeared; I think she was telling everyone she’d made the podium. “Lori!” I screamed, “Get your butt in this golf cart!” Once we had loaded her up along with the rest of her entourage, I drove as fast as I could through all of the spectators looking at all the cool cars.

Lori helped get people out of the way by shouting, “I’m going to the podium! I just raced at Indy!”

I got as close as I could on the wrong side of the Pagoda and told her to run to the other side while I parked the golf cart. Nick got his wish of standing at the top of the podium draped in the Indy wreath. Lori stood in the 3rd place spot wiping away tears.

Nick, Lori, and Berck

Berck was quite disappointed that they were all presented empty milk bottles. “Where’s my quart of Indy milk?” At least the Champaigne bottles were full. They also got Summit Racing gift certificates (Berck used his to buy spare brake line).

Then it was over to the suite Elliott had rented for us, where we drank Miller Lite and watched live F1 qualifying at Montreal, though that finished in time for us to step outside to watch the pre-war cars drive around the track again.

We caught up with Simon who was sore but otherwise OK after his crash, though it would take the Barrons all night to fix his car in time for the Sunday morning race.

The last Formula Vee race was Sunday morning.

Gridded up for the last race

Hunter Barron had a brake failure and went straight off the track. Nick managed to get in front of Elliott in the Pegasus, which was heavily smoking the last lap. Berck finished 2nd and Lori 3rd again in the “FV1” class, and E.O. got 2nd behind Elliott. Lori managed to get herself and her car to the podium without help and wiped away tears again.

1, 2, and 3, all RMVR drivers

Elliott put Nick, who was grinning ear to ear, in a headlock with the two of them wrapped inside the Indy laurel wreath atop the number 1 pedestal.

Nick and Elliott

Nick invited Tip up to the podium, the man who originally built the Bandersnatch in the ’60s and had come out from Florida to watch it race.

I gave Elliott a hug and thanked him for his hospitality. Then it was time to load the car back onto the trailer and everything else into the truck, including the two empty milk bottles and one full bottle of champagne and get a head start on the 16 plus hour drive back home.

Nick and Tip, the builder of the Bandersnatch, along with a full bottle of Champagne, and an empty milk bottle