Sometimes the obstacles move out of your way, sometimes they descend on you like the mosquitoes in Florida. Then there are times when you just plain screw up all on your own without any outside influence at all.
The last 2 days have been critical for our ranking in the finish. We had a lot of really good scores yesterday, with a bad one tossed out. The Grand Championship day does not allow you to toss a bad score, so you’re stuck with whatever you get. We’ve had some very good GC days, and a few really bad ones over the years: they can make or break your finish position. Today’s ranks as the Grand Championship Day From Hell, with Satan himself throwing pitchforks at us.
First, we started the very first leg at the wrong speed, which we eventually corrected fairly well. It was raining, and the roads were very slick: even with Positraction we spun the rear wheels when Janet said ‘go’. Then we fishtailed at a stop that was very slippery: just a fractional error, but they can add up. The rain stopped and the roads dried out very quickly: other competitors behind us would miss that one.
Then we had a team in front of us who was ‘backing’ into our minute: he had reset his speedometer incorrectly. We couldn’t pass on the 2 lane roads in forested areas, so first we dropped back 10 seconds, then another 10 seconds. ‘Time delays’, explained in a previous blog, can only be done in 10 second increments. Turning in the time delay took us from :26 late to :06 late, a decent fix but not sharp enough for the scores we needed today.
We were within sight of a checkpoint when a civilian truck decided to randomly slow down to see what was going on. You are not permitted to stop within sight of a checkpoint, we could not continue at our speed and we were less than :10 seconds away so a time delay was not an option. We just watched helplessly as we passed the checkpoint late.
And to add insult to injury, we went off course for the first time in I don’t know how long. By the time we figured it out we had lost almost 5 minutes. We found the course, looked at our order of start to figure out how far behind we were, then gunned it. The road was straight with no residences, good line of sight and no traffic. I don’t know how fast the Daytona was going because our speedo ‘zero’s out’ at about 70 or so, but every time we passed a rally car we gained back a minute. It’s hard to make up time when the rally speed is 50, and by carefully slowing for turns and blind hills, then going for it on the clear straights, we made it to the car that was supposed to be behind us.
Pulling abeam the supercharged A-V8 Ford coupe, we set our speed at 10% faster than them (55 mph) and we eased past from the left lane. By holding the 10% faster through some speed changes (like 33.5 mph in a 30 zone) we got back to somewhere near our minute. Of course it’s only as accurate as the car you ‘hacked’ off of, plus how well you performed the maneuver.
Well, that last leg turned out to be a :22 second score, our worst of the rally and with no chance of discarding it. But it could have been much worse: if a checkpoint had been passed before we could get back into position we would have carried a minute or more, which would have killed our finish. As it was we slid back 9 spots, which is not at all good, but as I said, it could have been much worse.
Oh, well. That’s Great Racing for you. At least the car is performing flawlessly, and I’m told it sounded great when flashing by other cars at whatever speed it was…Plus”‹ it was fun to see Wayne Carini from the cable TV show ‘Chasing Classic Cars’ at the finish gate. He too has a special needs adult daughter that he includes in some of his old car activities.
So tomorrow is the last of the competition, with the awards banquet to follow. Unless we win the day, either in our class or overall, we are going to walk away from this one empty handed. We’re sure going to try!
Steve, Janet, and Allison Hedke