June 2007

Headed out from Mosport giving brief thanks that Peyote and I are both in one piece and still ticking along. We stopped at a KOA in MalloryTown which should be renamed MosquitoVille. I’ve never been attacked so vigorously, and I’ve fished the tundra in Alaska. We retreated to Nero bringing along a large colony on our bodies that immediately dispersed throughout the trailer. This caused a brisk session of bug whacking that lasted about an hour and freaked Sam the Gay Dog out completely. He decided both Diane and I had undergone some kind of Jack Nicholson “The Shining” transformation. All woof and no play makes Sam a very dull dog.

On to Montreal in search of breakfast. Pretty cool looking town, but not that easy to get around in with a 34 foot trailer and a one ton Ford. Gave up on finding the right area for culinary inspiration, had a mediocre breakfast that cost us a couple of hours of wandering downtown and headed to Quebec City. I must say that Montreal has the coolest tourist information place I’ve ever seen, and the nicest people running it.

We’re staying at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, and as we drove to the hotel through this enormously interesting city we decided we needed a second day here. The streets got smaller and smaller until it felt like we were threading a Greyhound Bus through Montmarte.

The entrance to the hotel is on a tiny square through a narrow stone arch. When I turned the truck into the entrance Diane started twitching. Cars and cabs everywhere, no room to maneuver and no way to see what I was about to run over. She jumped out of the truck and ran to get the bellman who brilliantly maneuvered me through the maze, pulled aside some stanchions and directed me to park right next to the hotel under the exit arch. He said “how long are you staying”. I said “”two days” and he said “lets leave it right here”. Cool. Big tip.

Nero at Chateau Frontenacnero.JPGnero-chateau-frontenac.JPG

Had a perfect late lunch, and now we’re hanging out in our room. More later, and I promise more pictures. Here’s Nero at the Frontenac–click the pictures to see them full sized. Yup, I negotiated that tight right turn into the arch, and the courtyard was full of cars when I came through.

I’ve got a lot of photos to post, I’ll have to go back and add some to previous posts.

Mosport went just about as I thought it might. The relatively small field of sports racers whittled down a bit. I finished the feature race in eighth overall, third in my class, which was also dead last overall, and dead last in my class.  Humbling, but not as humbling as leaving with a crunched or toasted car, as many in the group did.

I got my times down to 1:40: something which is pretty good. It would have been good enough to win either of the production car classes, which is where I sometimes fit better. Lola T70’s and even Lotus 23C’s are not very rational competition for a TR3 in drag. On the other hand I did have someone to race with, and that wouldn’t have happened in the production classes, so I should quit whining and admit the organizers picked the right place to stick Peyote.

Still, I’m not used to being lapped by the race leaders. Peyote didn’t like it at all. I think it blames me. I think it could have shown a bit more top speed.

I also got to race with the Filson Falcon, which I’ve heard about many times over the years. It looks like Peyote’s slightly more shapely brother, and the owner drives the wheels off it, so it was fun battling with him. He had a bit more power–but not much, Peyote had a bit better handling–but not much.

Did I mention that this is a really tough track? I can’t think of any other track that I used my transmission and brakes so little. One excursion to second (turn five), one downshift to third (turn 9), one hard braking point (turn five) two brake “brushes” turn two and four. That’s it. Otherwise it’s fourth gear, stand on it, and turn in VERY precisely.  Very.

Did I mention that in turn two you need two hands to hold your cojones, leaving none to steer?

Did I mention how I sat in the car for a few minutes every time I got back to the paddock? Just needed a little time for reflection and meditation. Nothing dramatic, I’m not going to become a monk or anything. On the other hand I might become a nicer, more caring person.


I thought Watkins Glen separated the men from the boys. Mosport makes Watkins Glen look tame. Most of the turns seem to have been designed by the Marquis de Sade. Off camber downhill blind corners. Turn one off the front straight you slice across the track right to left and drop down a hill towards a corner that you can’t see the apex or even the midpoint of. It’s theoretically possible to do it flat out in fourth, but I’d have to go back to the trailer for more cojones first.  You exit the apex in a bumpy drift across a wide concrete repair patch with substantially less grip, slide out to the gator bumps with the throttle buried, gather up the car and what’s left of your composure and head towards the blank cliff called turn two.

You can’s se ANY of the turn at the entrance–just a hill crest with a lot of rubber streaks on it. You come in to the right of center, drop over the brow, and aim for an apex about halfway down the hill. Make that properly and the car starts sliding away to the right in the off-camber steeply downhill section that lightens up the front end and compromises your steering. You drift out, point the car at the second apex and it’s wide repair strip, and hang on. Turn in too soon and you’ll run out of track briskly. Do it just right and you end up in the gator bumps and make it back to the black stuff just before the bumps end.

You let the car keep swinging so the nose points left to the entrance of third. Incidentally, you really haven’t used the brakes at all so far–just little chicken stabs to make you feel better. If you try to brake as you head down the hills you’ll be dragged way off line and probably won’t make it back.

Third is a right hander with a decreasing radius, and of course, it’s blind and had a big repair strip you need to negotiate. It’s also flat out in fourth, though you do brake a bit before turning in.

Turn four is a downhill swoop that’s unbelievably steep and it twists left as you drop. You don’t brake at all heading into it, and the wide base makes it safe (SAFE!?!) to go through it flat out, but the pucker factor as your car gets pulled off line and seems to be headed directly at a grove if big, firm trees is simply amazing. You’re less than halfway around the track, and you’re scared spitless.

As you exit four there’s a short straight that you brake hard on once the car quits sliding right.  Five A and Five B are tight right turns with an uphill run into 5A that is steep as a cow’s face. You shift down two gears to second, drift through 5a and punch the throttle for a second, then lift and turn into 5B. You slide all the way through this turn, sawing the wheel and getting as much power down as you can, because you’re exiting onto a long uphill straight.

Turn Six and Seven aren’t turns at all for a car with a weenie little motor like Peyote. I get up to about 120 MPH at the end, which is of course a steep uphill crest that you can’t see beyond. There’s lots of skid marks on the crest, but I have tyo sail right over it, flat out, brush the brakes for luck and turn in to eight at full throttle. It’s a wide corner that looks tight but isn’t, I go all the way through flat out in fourth. Of course you have to get the line just right or you’ll hit the wall. Someone didn’t yesterday, and he’s in the Hospital, though it looks like he’s okay. His car is an expensive cube of wadded F1 hardware.

After eight I lift, blip and downshift to third, get back into the gas to settle the rear end and push into nine, a thoroughly unforgiving, decreasing radius, but puzzlingly fast corner. Then a short chute to the hard right hander of turn ten, which empties onto the straight.

It’s exciting all the time. My heart is pounding just writing about it. No rest, no letup, no room for error or concentration lapses.

I’m doing a decent time, but it’s just the car. I haven’t done a single turn with any kind of skill or consistency in the three days I’ve been here. In many ways this is the most difficult track I’ve ever been on. They race motorcycles here. That’s just crazy. I wouldn’t think of riding a bike here.

More on the art and culture of the area next time. Very funny place. I like these Canadians, but they sure are unique.

Man, are Americans fat. You don’t notice it so much in Oregon, Washington or California, but as soon as you leave the left coast everyone balloons. It’s not just middle age spread, the kids are fat. And I’m not talking about “hefty” or “chunky” or even just overweight–I and almost everyone in my family can be described that way. I’m talking about morbidly obese.

It’s hard to find a restaurant that isn’t actively trying to poison you. I swear I’m not making this up. At more than one “fine dining” restaurant in the midwest, every appetizer was deep fried (including, of course, deep fried cheese) and the potato choices were “Au Gratin, Cheese Mashed, baked, and home fried with cheese sauce”. Most people were wolfing down the home fries, a ten by one inch patty of greasy hash browns with a big puddle of cheddar cheese sauce on it. Must have been 1500 calories and 60 percent fat.

Those of you who know me, my 240 pound frame and my appetites are perhaps saying “why is fat boy pointing a finger at other people”? Because here in the middle of America I’m a skinny guy in great shape. Nothing will make you watch what you eat quite like sitting down at a restaurant surrounded by people who huffed and puffed through the arduous hike from parking lot to table.

One morning while we were eating high fiber cereal, fruit and yoghurt in the paddock one of the Friends of Triumph guys came by eating a microwaved biscuit with sausage and cheese in it and said “what’s that, an Oregon breakfast?” Yup, that’s what it is.

We’ve found a few remarkable restaurants, especially here in Canada. But by and large, you can’t even find healthy food in supermarkets. I suppose the market serves the demand, but while fat adults are responsible for their own bad choices, a country full of fat children is tragic. I understood statistically that the United States has an obesity problem, and there’s a noticeable increase in overweight people in Oregon, but it just doesn’t strike home until you make your way east.

On a selfish note, I think this might be good for my resolution to get down to 200 pounds.

Very impressive track and a nice funky town. Lots of history in this town, but it doesn’t quite have the close integration of track and town that you see between Road America and Elkhart Lake. Still, there’s definitely a racer scene at the Seneca Lodge bar. We went Friday night and it was packed with the usual set of geezers with greasy nails, talking racing.

Diane and I camped at the track in Nero, stuck out in the boonies a bit because we wanted power for the air conditioner. It was 95 during the day and stayed pretty warm at night, so refrigerated air was a big deal. The paddock marshal actually directed us to a good, centrally located site that had power, but an official from the track came by and told us we couldn’t paddock there–reserved camping, he said. Of course the twenty or so spaces stayed completely empty throughout the weekend, but I’m sure he felt good about his job performance giving us the boot.

Watkins Glen is a tough track. Not particularly hard to learn–I had the general direction of the turns down pretty quickly–but to be fast you have to really hustle the car through some turns would definitely not forgive errors. The most intimidating turn for me was the little bend just before you go over the bridge. The Armco funnels down as you cross the bridge, and both the left bend, and the right turn before it are flat out in top gear. But of course you have to hit the apex perfectly to thread the needle on the bridge, and then there’s another downhill right onto the back straight that’s hardly a turn except in Peyote I was going 125 MPH as I negotiated it and drifted to the outer edge of the straight.

I did the test and tune day on thursday, and was progressing reasonably on lap times, getting down to about 2:29 by mid afternoon. The sports racers and faster Porsches were screaming past, but I used them to guide me through a turn or two, learning their lines. By the end of the day I was staying in touch with them through the turns–they still disappeared down the straights.

Friday in practice I saw what most of the competition was on–full slicks! So I took off my worn out Speedsters and put on my DOT radials. No point in taking a knife to a gun fight. I pulled out a 2:21: something on friday morning, the best time I managed all weekend.

As I said in the previous post, HSR is a run-what-you-brung organization, and even though people say SVRA (same company owns it) is more strict, I think those a pretty relative terms. Many of the cars that run here wouldn’t be accepted by any West Coast organization except SCCA Vintage. ItÕs not surprising that you donÕt see many great vintage cars here–no point in taking your five million buck Ferrari to a race with 300 horsepower 914-6’s with flares and huge slicks.

Peyote was in Group 2 which was running with the “historic” cars in group 3. In some cases I think “historic” meant it was running in SCCA last year. After the first qualifying practice on Saturday I was second in group 2 and 23rd overall in the 48 car field. Not too bad for the new guy. I had hopes to move up a bit.

During the qualifying race on Saturday I finished first in group 2, and 20th overall, but my time had slipped backwards about 1.5 seconds to 2:22: something. Traffic.

One of the faster 914-6’s hit the wall at the entry to the straight. Wadded the car up, probably hit at close to 100 mph. Driver was fine but the car looks done.

Saturday night there was a barbeque on the lake in the town of Watkins Glen. Nice evening and really good food. We were going to go back to the Seneca Lodge but both Diane and I were too sleepy. Wobbled back to the track and crashed in Nero.
Sunday my race wasn’t until 3:30, which was a good thing since I found a little radiator leak. I put an electric cooling fan on the radiator last year, using those plastic push-through mounts. That might work OK for a street car, but I developed a small leak at one mount. I spent the morning repairing it with a little JB weld and delicately restoring all the bent fins in the radiator. Got it all buttoned up and ready to go in plenty of time, so I spent the rest of the time getting the trailer prepped to go.

Time to RACE! I was gridded 20th, got a great start and went right up the outside of the pack, entering the first turn in about 8th. I got down through the esses without losing a place, across the bridge, onto the back straight and a bunch of 911’s went blasting by. Got passed by a very fast TR4 (can’t remeber the guys name–excellent driver) at the entrance to the bus stop chicane, repassed him in the heel of the boot, came up the hill to the front straight turns and BAM, something popped in the engine room, sending steam everywhere. I lifted and looked at the temp and oil gauges. Oil was fine, temp at 230, so I limped to the pit entrance and exited the track. Turns out that my screwball mechanic left the high point vent on the cooling system finger tight. What a moron. Got to fire that clown.

I filled up the cooling system after everything cooled down a bit, idled back to the paddock, checked the compression–looks okay. So I’m probably OK for Mosport. Packed up and hit the road.

Watkins Glen to Mosport
We drove along Lake Seneca to the town of Seneca looking for dinner. Didn’t find anything promising so we wound up eating at a family restaurant near the highway. The menu was surprisingly ambitious and the food was decent. We drove along Lake Ontario looking for a motel or a campsite–nada. So we took the navigation systems cue and tried a hotel in a nearby town called the Hamlin Inn. When Diane was talking to them they seemed a little shocked that anyone would be calling about availability.

Clue number one.

She also asked if they had nearby parking for our long trailer. After some consultation that sounded like a comedy routine from my end, they decided that there would indeed be adequate parking.

Clue number two.

So we drove the six mile detour to Hamlin and located the Inn. From the motorcycles parked outside and the crowd of locals drinking beer and hooting on the front porch it was clear that while we might have found a bar I would enjoy, we had not found reasonable accommodations. We travelled on down a two lane country highway, with me nodding and biting the inside of my cheek to stay awake. We finally found a basic roadside rest area with a sign that simply said “Parking, 1/4 mile”.  It was quiet and a long way from any civilization, so I convinced Diane it would be perfect. And indeed it was. We slept well and continued to Niagra Falls in the morning.

Nero is actually great to sleep in. Quiet and comfortable, the bed is very nice with a layer of tempurpedic foam on top of standard foam to support seating.

Niagra was fun. We walked along the cliff top to American Falls, took some pictures, then took the elevator down to the Maid of the Mist to see the falls close up. Neat experience. Surrounded on all sides by Chinese and Indian tourist, we stood in our genuine recyclable plastic ponchos and watched a million tons of water pour down. Very worthwhile. Then we hopped back in the car and made out way through customs.

They have a special line for RVs and busses in customs, but we were the only ones there, so we bypassed the hordes of cars and got our own inspector, a young kid who was more interested in Peyote and my FZ1 Yamaha than anything else. Boys will be boys. So customs was painless.

My navigation system is clueless about Canada. I’ll get a card for it when I have an opportunity, but for now the car seems to be floating in space with an occasional road nearby. We stopped for lunch in Burlington, west of Toronto, and had a spectacular meal at a restaurant called Pepperwoods. It’s been so long since we’ve had careful cooking and skillful use of good ingredients we ordered a huge medley of appetizers–way to much–and got to-go boxes. We went for a walk to take the edge off the stuffed feeling and found a belgian chocolate shop where a charming Belgian lady and her son who owns the business, hand make spectacular chocolates and offer excellent coffee. We couldn’t pass that up, so we got some to put in the refrigerator, even though we know it compromises the beauty of the chocolate, it doesn’t affect the taste much.

We made it to Mosport about 4:00, had to wait until 5:30 for the track to clear so we could cross it (Nero won’t fit through the tunnel) and we got one of the few spots with adequate power. We spent a comfortable night in Nero and headed off to explore. We don’t need to be back to the track until Thursday morning (though we’ll get there Wednesday night just to be certain).
We decided to go to Rice Lake, a large lake about fifty miles from Mosport. On the way we stopped for a late breakfast in Port Hope. Turns out there’s no nice funky little breakfast place in Port Hope but there’s a couple of good lunch spots. One called Zest opened at 11:30 and the menu looked nice, so we walked around the town awhile and had lunch there. Excellent Nicoise salad, a really good bottle of provencal rose to suit the warm weather, and of course some frites, since we’re in Canada. Everything was wonderful. We continued on to Rice Lake and a lovely place called the Victoria Inn. Classic old home converted to a nice Inn, right on the lake. Canoes, swimming pool, lovely dining room, etc. Spent a nice afternoon. I had a minor disaster with a canoe in the high wind–it wanted to blow away with me in it. Only some fairly frantic paddling  and getting close in to the trees got me back to the wharf. I fell in while I was launching it, providing no end of mirth to Diane. Had a nice meal, a post-prandial stroll along the lake. talked to a few fisherfolk, and back to the Inn in the twilight. Very classical and relaxing. So now to bed.

As my friend Tony Garmey says: “Boys need not apply”. Lots of pucker factor at the Glen.  It’s easy to wad your car up into a little ball, as numerous people did this weekend. It was a strange event–HSR is really weord. At least half the cars on the track were modern, some of them current year!! In the GTP class there was an Audi A8 that raced at Le Mans two years ago, and the Bentley GTP car that won in 2005.  They combined my group (2) with 3 which had a fleet of 914-6 porsches on big slicks and 300+ HP motors, lots of 911s and sports racers. Interesting group.

The track is very fast, and there’s Armco barriers everywhere. There’s a twisting uphill left followed by a funnel of armco leading over a bridge that drops to the right. You have to thread the needle and make the apexes flat out in top gear. Interesting.

 More later

I never finished the previous post, and now I’m a whole track behind. I’m sitting in the paddock at Mosport, we just came here from Watkins Glen. More about that later, but here’s what happened at VIR:

So the Chapparal and the Scarab hit the straight and disappeared like the Roadrunner in the cartoons–suddenly gets small.  Behind me was a very fast Lola. I knew he had four wheel disk brakes, weighed about five hundred pounds less, and had about the same horespower. Of course he didn’t have Peyote’s Mojo going for him. I pulled out a small lead and was pressing on happily when the turn four gremlin got me and I spun off into the grass. I locked it up quickly so I didn’t slide too far, watched the Lola drive past while I got the engine fired up, and got back on the track in fourth place.

I had to press very hard to catch the Lola, it took two laps to get back in contact. I caught him at the top of the uphil esses and passed on the outside on the last tight turn of the esses. Pretty much on the edge there, but I got it done.  I pulled out a little lead and held it to the end, though the Lola made a nice attempt in the last few turns to nail me.

Pulled off the track and they waved Peyote to a nice little podium area with a surprising crowd and a lot of photographers.  Chris Economaki interviewed me about Peyote and the race. He asked the classic question: “What is that thing?” and was shocked to hear it’s a Triumph TR3 in drag.

I got to spray champagne on a bunch of people. Tom Hollfelder (Chapparal) said “If you don’t spray me I won’t spray you”, so we just hosed the photographers.

Then we beat feet back to the trailer, loaded up Peyote and headed for Pittsburg to drop Diane’s car off at a dealership, and then on to Watkins Glen.

VIR looks like a horse farm, or a really big golf course. There’s a nice hotel on the grounds overlooking several corners, a clubhouse/tavern in a huge plantation house, and they’re building townhouse villas near the Oak Tree turn. Pretty cool place.

The track is challenging, there are a lot of turns that simply don’t work the obvious way. In fact there are a few that I never got close to mastering–I’m sure I left a couple of seconds out there on the tarmac. But it was a lot easier to start going faster at VIR than at Road America.

You couldn’t tell that though by my first session on the track. I spun three times–twice in turn four which is an odd left hander that doesn’t seem to have an apex. This same turn played a role in the race as well. Fortunately it’s a low speed corner with lots of runoff. I also spun in turn 14 called the Roller Coaster, which is most definitely NOT a low speed corner, and the grass slopes sharply downhill from the track verge. I went down the hill backwards–briskly. No damage, and I drove back to the track and continued, but it was a long drive back to the track.

My times got better quickly with each practice, as I found that some turns that I was braking hard and downshifting for could actually be taken flat out in fourth–if you did everything perfectly. I did one more very high speed exit off turn 14 with lots of agricultural evidence everywhere in the car, but again no damage.

The organizers put me into group D, which is Sports Racers. No chance of an overall win unless the two fastest cars didn’t show up or took each other out: A Chapparal 1 and a Scarab. Peyote punches a lot over it’s weight, but there’s just no chance with cars like these. The rest of the field was just about as impressive–Jaguar- and Corvette-powered Listers, a Birdcage Maserati, a very sophisticated Lola, Elva’s, Jaguar C type, and a very fast 1958 Corvette. I had my work cut out for me. In fact I went to the organizers and begged to be put into one of the groups that had Triumphs in it. I wanted a chance to race with George Wright, who is a heck of a good driver. But they said “let’s see how you do in Qualifying and we’ll decide then”.

Friday night was the Black and White dinner–very nice. Good food and nice people. I slipped into the pool to cool off. I would have leaped in, but I need to keep the dressing on my ear dry.

I’m not much for sandbagging, and I qualified third with a 2:21:something, so that option was pretty much closed. Diane got me a cool suit to help with the 95 degree weather. What a great thing. I’m certain I was substantially faster just because my head was clearer.

Saturday night we had a party in the Triumph Ghetto. I had moved Nero to another area because I needed more power for the air conditioner. In the Virginia heat and humidity,  refrigerated air seemed more important than proximity to friends. Call me fickle. We took the projector and a selection of movies to the party, along with a lot of wine and a little beer. Great time, even though a thunderstorm dumped a huge amount of rain on us for about twenty minutes. We showed Rendezvous and Le Mans. I think we may need to open every movie night with a showing of Rendezvous.

Sunday I woke up feeling fragile again. I didn’t think I drank that much, but something apparently camped out in my mouth. I did the morning warmup and Peyote felt wonderful. We made that magic transition where some corners become a dance move–the cars natural turning rythym clicks with the corner approach. Amazing when it happens. I had it going on three corners, including turn ten, where I’d been struggling.

For the race I resolved to keep the Chaparral and Scarab in sight as long as possible, using them as a mental tow hook to better my time. I stayed with them through the Oak Tree turn, but when they hit the straight it looked like a roadrunner cartoon.

After my nephew Eric’s graduation party Diane and I jumped in her car and headed south and east to Virginia and Virginia International Raceway, the next track on the tour. The plan included sightseeing via a route that added ten hours of driving but featured excursions in the Grand Tetons, a peek at Yellowstone, perhaps a shy glance at Mt. Rushmore. But our enthusiasm for added driving evaporated while rolling along in the flat morning light outside Twin Falls, Idaho. A continental breakfast from a highway motel is thin gruel for optimism–we reassessed the time available and decided to blast across on the short route.

The Bentley Continental Flying Spur is fabulous for cruising across the country. Besides the creature comforts, the wonderful W12 motor adds incredible depth to the gas pedal–at 90 MPH the car is loafing, getting 20 miles to the gallon. I expected lousy mileage with this three ton, 535 horsepower, twin turbo behemoth, but it sips gas until you do silly things with the accelerator. Use up a little more pedal and you’re doing more than 140, as I did when Diane dozed as we ran along a wide, flat desert road with no cars visible on the horizon. She’ll probably only sleep in heavy traffic from now on, I made the mistake of telling her. Otherwise she’d have never known, the car feels no different at 145 or 55. And there’s still lots of pedal left, all the way to 195 according to Bentley. At those speeds this car would be a reasonable alternative to commercial airlines–but not in the USA.

We spent the next night in Steamboat Springs. We deviated from our minimum time route to take in some of the continental divide. Cut down past Flaming Gorge (amazing–I’d like to spend some time there soon) and down to the spectacular mountains of Colorado. Stayed in an expensive but unattractive Sheraton–built for skiing no doubt, with the last remaining “popcorn” textured ceiling (I hope) in any hotel in America. Had a nice meal in town and off to bed.

I’m not getting any exercise on this trip. eating dinner and hitting the hay has got to be the fast track to blubber. I need to fix that.

After you leave Colorado it’s a long, uninteresting drive, several very forgettable meals (you get very spoiled living in Portland–we have great restaurants) to Nashville, our next stop. I really enjoyed Nashville the last time we were here, and the Country Music Awards were going on, so the town was packed. I’m not a fan of shitkicker music, but there’s a lot of great music in this town, so we were looking forward to a night out. But we stayed a few minutes too long in our room, collapsed and wound up watching a movie. What a couple of slugs.

We decided to modify our route a little and take in some of the Smokey Mountains. Unfortunately we chose to enter the park through Gatlinburg which meant we went by Dollywood. Bumper to bumper rednecks. Took forever to get past the hundreds of tacky attractions that were being picked over by fat families that looked like they should never have reproduced. Oppressive. Both Diane and I had stiff necks from the ugliness of the place. One of the businesses we passed was “J. Floyd’s Golf and Guns”. Seriously, I can’t make this kind of stuff up. You don’t want to slow play on that course.

It’s probably not ideal to travel through the smokies two days after you cross the continental divide. Pretty, but not that impressive. It would take a lot of mountains to scrape off the slime of Gatlinburg.

We made it to Raleigh and picked up my truck at the airport, then beelined to VIR. I picked up the trailer from the raceplex and went looking for the Friends of Triumph folks. We parked close by our friends and started setting up. It was oppressively hot and humid at the track, but what a facility! It’s the most beautiful race track I’ve ever been to–lovely grounds, wonderful buildings all done like an upscale country club. I got Peyote unloaded, replaced the seal and driveshaft, got it all buttoned up and we’re ready to race.