September 2007


Peyote is in little bits in my shop. I wheeled it in on Monday and turned it into a bare frame (which is now at the frame straightening shop). With the frame gone from the shop it looks like Peyote disappeared ito a bunch of boxes. I have a lot of work to do to turn it back into a car, but it will be ready for spring. Not the CSRG Charity Challenge race I’m afraid. It’s going to take all the time I have before I head to Maui.

I’m working on a complete story of the trip. I’ll post it here when I finish it. I decided to make it half real and half fictional since my memory won’t permit anything more substantial. Should be an interesting exercise. I started something similar with Peyote’s history but never got that into it. This will be easier. The tough part will be separating truth from fiction, but I’ll leave that to the readers.

Here’s a gallery of pictures from the tour: http://gallery.mac.com/billbab I haven’t had any chance to add captions, so you’re kind of on your own. The new version of iPhoto lets you separate your library into events–nice feature.

Thanks for all the supportive emails and comments, and the offers of rides at both Road America and Sovren’s Fall Finale. I’m not taking anyone up on that kind offer. I’m not comfortable racing other people’s cars, but most of all, now that I’m on the way, I’m pretty excited about being home. Four months in the front 16 feet of a trailer is a long time.

One phone caller was not so pleased, I heard from Carl Jensen, the competition director of SVRA. He was pretty pissed that I said in my article it was the stewards that would be making the decision about any sanctions (they don’t, he does), that I expected politics would be involved, and the reason I hadn’t heard any result was so the decision to do nothing could be announced after everyone was safely gone.

Not only did Carl make his determination before the end of the race weekend, but he also came looking for me to tell me about it. It must have been fairly late on Sunday, I was at the track until almost noon. The decision was a penalty for the Corvette driver, none for me.

I took another look at what I said and how I said it. I was talking about my assumptions. They weren’t unreasonable, but they were wrong. I’m not going to change the article because then this apology wouldn’t make sense: I’m sorry Carl, I shouldn’t have sold you short. And I should have come looking for you or called before I made assumptions about how you run your show. Thanks for getting in touch with me and giving me the chance to set it straight.

I don’t know what penalty you assessed, and I don’t really care that much. I remain unimpressed at the character and integrity of the driver, but how you deal with him is your business. All the best.

Incidentally, the sour ending aside, SVRA runs a pretty neat event. All the races went off on time until it started raining insanely hard. The off-track re-enactment tours were great fun, very well coordinated and handled (I know firsthand how hard that is), the registration and logistics were flawless and painless, and they got people pretty much into the right groups (though I’m still wondering about those MGA’s in group four). Watkins Glen is definitely one of my favorite tracks to race. Next time I’ll try to bring a little more horsepower so I don’t give away so much in the straights.

“Noo0, you idiot” I groaned as the Corvette bashed into Peyote’s left rear corner, pivoting the car sideways onto it’s massive bumper. I slid along sideways at sixty MPH and I stared up the hood five inches from my elbow. The big car was pushing me towards the tire wall. I had just enough time to think “you jerk”, and then I hit the wall. Peyote’s right front wheel smashed into the rubber, aluminum crumpled and I could actually see the wheel move backward as the suspension mounts bent. I knew the All Aluminum Tour was over.

Rewind.

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Well, not all Babcocks, but thirty relatives showed up at Limerock to watch Peyote and I do our thing. Iím originally from Boston, and the only black sheep to actually leave the east coast permanently. So my brothers, sisters and Mom planned to come see me race, and it blossomed into a mini-reunion and campout with wads of nieces and nephews as well. My daughter Cassie and her two boys James and Shea drove down from Michigan.

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Twenty one adults and nine kids. What fun. It was great to see them all, but I didnít get to spend as much time as I hoped to catching up because…

…Naturally Peyote had itís first serious mechanical problem of the entire trip. The quartermaster clutch and Saab throwout bearing I use in Peyote packed it in.

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