Race day. Last night we took my daughter Elizabeth, her husband Joe and their two boys Ian and Owen to dinner at Augeriís in Auburn. A decent little Italian joint. Little kids are a handful in a restaurant, but theyíre fun. Ian is dark and puckish–looks like both his Mom and Dad. Owen is blonde, blue eyed, and looks like no one in either family. Somehow a little surfer dude snuck into the gene pool.
Joe and Eva Gordon were showing movies when we got back, even though the dragsters running at the track were drowning out the sound. Gumball Rally with subtitles. You really donít need dialog with a movie like that. Diane and I went to bed about halfway through and conked out immediately even with dragsters doing passes a few hundred feet away.
Saturday I took Peyote out for practice and it was running beautifully. I raised the tire pressure a pound on all corners to 18 psi cold. Did qualifying before lunch and wound up fifth with a 141.something. Not great, Iíve done 1.39s here on Vintage TD tires and Iím running Speedsters this year, but satisfactory for the first time on a track this year. Denny Hatch put his Pooper (Porsche-powered Cooper) on the pole, with Cameron Healy in his Pooper in second, then Jack Goffrette in the Victress and Kurt Delbene in his Lola.
I was hoping for one of the typical Peyote-Pooper battles but I knew Iíd have some challenges getting by Jack and the Victress. That Corvette motor makes it tough to stick with in the the straights, and he tosses that heavy car into the turns better than anyone would expect. Worse yet, Tony Garmey is driving Art Redmondís í57 Corvette this year, and I knew heíd come blasting past at some point. It was shaping up to be an interesting race.
Sure enough, Tony toasted me at the start and so did Steve Clarke in his Lola, so I was in seventh. I got by Steve pretty quickly but Tony is always tough no matter what heís driving. I pushed him hard in every tight corner, trying to help him warm up his drum brakes. He finally started overheating and pointed me by on the long downhill run to turn 3a. As I passed him I saw a little daylight around the Victress as well so I tried to duck under Jack. I didnít work, so I was stuck behind him for a couple of laps. I finally got under him in the long sweeper (2) and pulled out enough lead so he couldnít quite catch me in the chute to turn 3, and then I stuck him behind a bunch of formula Vs we were lapping and I was clear. Jack canít pass those little Vs very easily–heís afraid heíll crush a couple.
Kurt Del Bene was right ahead and I got him in Big Indy, and started chasing Denny in his Pooper. Cameron was long gone–a little silver dot at the end of the straight.
Denny was lapping fast but his rear end was sliding more than normal. He finally pulled off with an oil leak on his rear half shaft. It was lubeing his tire nicely.
I thought I might have a chance to reel Cameron in. With no one close by I thought his concentration would lapse, and sure enough, he was picking daisies way up ahead, but with three laps to go my engine noise suddenly tripled and I thought Iíd blown a rod. I pulled off and shut down. As I climbed out I could see that the exhaust manifold had just come apart–a minor fix. What a relief.