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Still Racing After All These Years (Part V)     by Butch Kummer

I knew this from past experience, but I was recently reminded that back-to-back race weekends are DRAINING. I understand that the Winston Cup guys run 36 weekends a year, but then that’s also their job. I just know that I was so worn out when I got home from L.A. (Lower Alabama) on Sunday evening at 7:00 that I asked Harriett to drive when we went to dinner!

Over the May 19-21 weekend, the B.K. Racing team made the journey to Beech Mountain, NC, to participate in the Fifth Annual Grassroots Motorsports Spring Beech Mountain Hill Climb Presented by John Finger Motors, MG Products and the Highland Brewing Co., the fourth round of the 2000 Racer Wholesale / Chill Factor Products Solo I Series. It almost takes as long to say the name of the event as it took me to drive up the side of the mountain.

Solo I is a time trial event, and for Beech Mountain we actually race up a state highway that goes from the ski trails parking lot to the top of the mountain (for those of you that may have been to Beech Mtn.). This was also the first event after rebuilding the engine from our Road Atlanta head gasket "opportunities" (we don’t have "problems"), so I was anxious to see how things worked out. In a nutshell, the car worked fine but the driver wasn’t quite as sharp.

The GT-1 class record was a 79.6 that I set back in 1997 with my previous car, the ’82 Corvette that some of you may remember. We had six runs on Saturday and, although I was never really satisfied with any of those passes, I did manage to set a new record at 78.212. The local police also set up a radar trap at the fastest part of the course - one of those "display type units" that shows you how fast you’re going - and I had the top speed of the weekend at 99 mph (the speed limit is 25, by the way). We changed the rear gear Sunday morning to give me more jump out of the corners and ran a 79.560 (98 mph) on the warm-up run, but the rains came at lunch and I never got another chance for that elusive "perfect run". Oh well, third overall, new class record and top speed of the weekend - I guess I’ll have to wait for next year to see 100.

The Solo I event in Enterprise, AL, was the big shoot-out between myself and my nemesis from New Orleans, John Centanni. John and I have had a "mostly friendly" competition going for five years now and he was gigging me at Talladega about getting a TransAm car (my new car, which is still scheduled to arrive in late July) just so I could beat him (which is sorta like bringing a gun to a knife fight). I replied that I didn’t need a new car to beat him, and if he beat me at Skelly (where he holds the GT-1 track record), then I would waive points at all the remaining events this year. To say the least, I was READY when I showed up.

Like most shoot-outs, however, this one ended early. John suffered oil pressure problems before making a timed run (they had a new engine in the car), which were later traced to bits of bearing material in the oil pan screens. His mechanic was at a loss to explain the cause, but in any case the #96 Corvette was not going to make a run. Since I was the only other GT-1 car there, I let John drive my car to at least get some points for the weekend. Although he did not fit well in the car, he did a commendable job and ran back-to-back 88 second laps on Saturday afternoon. He also showed me that he wasn’t afraid of the car and it was interesting to watch someone else push it almost as hard as I do.

For my part, I had run an 86+ lap on my first run, then lowered that to an 85.9 after John made his runs on Saturday. We changed the rear gears Sunday morning, then I ran back-to-back laps of 84.654 and 84.650 when the track was cool(er). Since one of my prior laps had been reported at 84.109 (which was under John’s 1998 record of 84.272), we put the car on the trailer before lunch and got ready to head home. When I checked the official times, however, the "correct" time was 84.901 (apparently we had a dyslexic timer), so my official best was the 84.650. I was disappointed that I didn’t get the record (and that John’s car wasn’t working), but first place is still first place.

Next race is the June 10,11 National event at Road Atlanta. As before, we’ll have practice and qualifying on Saturday, with Sunday being race day. My race should get the green flag around 1:30 in the afternoon, so come see us if you can make it.

See you at the track…