This week, I want to talk a little more about what happened behind the scenes at the races instead of what happens on the Bullring track.
The race weekend started off with our crew putting the final touches on the Super Late Model and Late Model cars as well as loading up on Friday night. I was having dinner with a potential sponsor, so the crew really stepped up to the plate and made sure everything was ready to go. We think it is vital to be ready to go the day before we need to head to the track. Being prepared is a very important team function for us, so if we need to go to a test and tune on a Friday night, we are loaded by Thursday. For a Saturday race, we are loaded by Friday. So, while I was enjoying a nice rib-eye steak, the crew was hooking up trailers, pushing cars, going through tools, and getting everything ready. Man do I love this crew!
Saturday morning started out as usual. My son Jimmy and I were off to the grocery store to purchase all of the food and beverages for the guys to be prepared for the day. We try to eat healthy while we are out in the more than 100 degree weather, but at the same time, I have to get something that everyone will actually eat. I mean come on now, these are race guys. So Saturday's menu consisted of jalapeño cheeseburgers on whole wheat buns, fresh fruit, chips and a tossed salad. Come on now, I said we TRY to keep it healthy!
We arrived at the track at about 1:30 p.m. and met up with the other half of the crew. Half of the guys met for lunch at 12:30 p.m. while a few others, including myself, skipped lunch and met them at the track. The guys met a gentleman named Robin at lunch and now he is joining the crew for the night. Robin is a truck driver from Canada and was looking for something to do, hence a new H-Town Racing crew member. He was a great help, did whatever was asked and was able to jump right in. He was texting his wife Sally throughout the night and got himself in trouble. He was telling her how much fun he was having and she got a little jealous. So now, next time Robin is on a run to Vegas he is going to be bringing his wife Sally and we will have two new crew members. Robin is a great guy and we are glad we got to meet him. He is an avid photographer and took a bunch of shots for us, look for them to be up on www.htownspeed.com soon.
Later that day, we paid our entry fee and moved on in. Once we get into our pit spots everybody has a job. The whole team works like a well-oiled machine, and the cars are rolled off the trailers and the pits are set up. After setting up, we headed over to pre-race tech and check in. The Super Late Model was a little too short on the wheelbase and the Late Model's roof needed to be raised, but other than that we were approved by the tech crew. So back to the pits we went. The roof height was allowed to be fixed before next race (August 30th- Double Mains - Gates Open at 5:00 pm) but we had to fix the wheelbase before qualifying. I jumped in the car and the crew worked for about an hour. After plenty of measuring and degreeing up and down, and me falling asleep in the car, we were ready to hit practice.
The game plan that day was to practice on our qualifying set up and keep tweaking it to improve. We headed out and the car was very, very tight. I couldn't even turn the wheel enough to steer it left. I backed it down a little bit and was getting ready to come off the track when I went into turn one and the lower control arm broke completely off of the chassis. I stopped the car about five feet from the wall and waited for the tow truck to bring us the hook. We ended up back in the pits with the car on four stands, zero good practice laps and trying to figure out how we should proceed.
Crew members Pat and Sonny left to grab hardware and tools. No matter how much you think you are prepared, you never have everything you need! While Crew Chief Joe, John, and Jr. were hard at work tearing everything apart, I was trying to replenish my fluids while fetching tools for the guys who were lying on the 130 degree blacktop.
We got the car back together but had already missed qualifying. Las Vegas Motor Speedway was nice enough to allow us two laps to see if the car was going to hold together. It did, and we pulled back into the pits and loaded up all of the goodies for the on track autograph session. I love autograph sessions! It is always so nice to see all of the kids who are amazed by the cars. They treat you like a NASCAR star.
After the autograph session we sat and waited. Our feature was the last feature, and everything was ready to go on the cars. We were sitting around and noticed a huge lighting storm and some pretty ugly black clouds that looked like they could be heading our way. So we decided that we should get as much as possible loaded up just in case the sky opened up all of a sudden. Luckily, the races beat the weather.
Since we missed qualifying, we had to start dead last, in the 20th position. We worked our way up to the14th spot and in the final laps we were passed, however I was able to tuck back in behind the car that passed me and pick off three cars and finish 12th. Two cars refused a post-race inspection so we were moved from 12th to 10th, and we could possibly pick up a few other spots depending on what tech finds. I would rather earn the spots, but when we had a night like we did, we'll take those spots however we can.
We are looking forward to the week off. We will clean and go over each car with a fine toothed comb and see if we can improve on our performance of two weeks ago. The team also tries to keep a tight group off the track, so we are all playing in a fantasy football league together this fall. We will be having a nice barbeque and holding our draft on August 23, and will be getting the cars ready for the double main night on the 30th.
I also need to mention that August 29th is my 10-year wedding anniversary and my daughter Codi's ninth birthday. I have to thank my family, especially my wife Erin, for putting up with all of the long hours and missed meals for racing. If it wasn't for their support I could never achieve my dream of competing in a Super Late Model and trying to make a difference in the community. Their support means everything to me, thank you very much!
Labor Day Weekend is going to be very busy for me. My family and I are heading up to Parawon, Utah on Friday to celebrate our anniversary and Codi's birthday. We will head up early Friday morning and get some fishing in, have a nice dinner by the campfire and get a good rest. I will head back to Vegas on Saturday morning, race, and then head back up to Utah after the races to spend the rest of a wonderful weekend with my family.
Once again, I want to let everybody know that we will be featuring two of the H-Town Racing cars in the Findlay Chevrolet Showroom from Sept. 1-8. This is the best Chevrolet dealer hands down. Tell them that you saw them at the races, and they will take very good care of you. Come check out the cars! They are located off of 215 and Rainbow. For more information, go to www.findlaychevy.com. I would also like to thank Dr. Mary Ann Shannon at Las Vegas Orthopedics, Team Rivera Independent BeachBody Coaches, SFC USA Inc. www.sfcusa.com, and Black Mountain Graphics for their continued support! See ya on Saturday!