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Daytona 2005 or 
"What I Learned During Our Summer Vacation at Daytona Beach"
                       
Started 9th, hit the tirewall, finished 6th, MAJOR rush (can you say 175+ mph?)!!! Labor Day at AMS is next.
                       
Daytona International Speedway has always been something of a religious experience for me. My dad was part owner of a '37 Ford that ran the first ever race there back in 1959, we watched many a Daytona 500 and Firecracker 400 from the infield, and I was camping in the infield there when Gene Felton won the first Paul Revere 250 with a 454 Camaro (was that 1969, Gene?). Both my folks were there when I ran the banking for the first time back in 1999 with Godzilla, but they missed my taxi-cab debut in one of the Turn One school cars back in 2002 (I wanted to get off probation before heading to the Runoffs, but THAT story's been told before - see www.B-K-Racing.com). My dad passed on in November of 2003, but my mom still lives in Central Florida and came over with Harriett on Saturday for my Daytona debut in Cuervo.
                       
The following items are in no particular order other than it's the way I thought of them:
                       
1.  There's a reason people use enclosed trailers. Despite the best efforts of Tony Owens and his crew at Billy Howell Ford (and Featherlite Trailers), we were not able to resolve the brake problems on the F-550 so we ended up taking my old open trailer behind our 3/4-ton pickup instead. It worked out okay, but when we were unloading and setting up Friday evening I kept "mentioning" that it sure would have been easier with the big rig. I figured then that this would be the theme of the weekend, but I was wrong. I guess that means I've learned to not write the final story before the checkered flag actually falls on the weekend.
                       
2.  Running over 175 mph in traffic gives me a LOT of respect for the folks that do this for a living. Granted they do it every weekend and their cars are set up to do nothing but turn left, but Cuervo was moving around half a car width at a time up on the banking (the in-car cameras that show those guys jostling and moving around is NOT exaggerated). As long as I didn't do anything in a hurry I figured I'd be fine, but I'm pretty sure there were multiple laps when I didn't breathe or blink between the entrance of NASCAR 4 and the tri-oval. We had geared Cuervo for 176.15 mph and we turned every bit of it - I was on the rev-limiter before the 500 marker into the tri-oval and didn't hit the brakes until almost the 200 marker (not EVERY lap, but at least on a banzai run). Next year we'll gear it a bit taller because I expect to be faster.
                       
3.  Central Florida Region puts on tremendous events. Two things they could adopt from Atlanta Region, however, are finding a way to provide copies of gridsheets/results, plus get the results up on MyLaps.com in a more timely basis. I copied down the top fifteen times and we were ninth overall, seventh in GT-1 with a 2:05.945. Jeff Bailey's buddy Boscoe told me the best time he'd ever seen from a GTA car was in the high 2:04's and I knew I could go quicker than I'd qualified (there's a LOT of traffic with 60+ cars on the track), so I felt pretty decent about where we were. I knew I had nothing for the guys up front in "real" GT cars, but with attrition and passing some folks we figured we might be able to end up with an "impound finish" (top four cars in each class go to impound). That was the goal as we went to grid.
                       
4.  The Goodyears radials we were using work very well. They also work better when they're actually round vs. square <g>.
                       
5.  Although I've been driving FAST for a number of years, what I'm going to learn with Cuervo is how to RACE. I've done more wheel-to-wheel racing in the last month than I did in five years with Lucifer and it was a bonehead move (see #6) on my part due to lack of racing experience that kept us from achieving our goal. It's amazing the number of instant decisions you need to make when racing for position and sometimes you just mess up. As Data said on the way home, "sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes you're the bug."
                       
6.  (see #5) Trying to go around the outside of an equal car in the International Hairpin is NOT a smart move. Lee Arnold, Matt Griffin, Chris Phelps and I were having a tremendous battle. We'd hang with Matt in the infield then he'd pull all of us on the banking, but he went out on lap 3 with a bad coil. Lee was ahead of me and Chris was hounding me under braking but I could pull him slightly on the banking. As we finished lap five I got a good draft on Lee and closed up a bunch as we entered the infield section. I was right on his tail as we approached the International Hairpin and he moved right to protect the inside as he should. In retrospect I should have taken the classic "outside/in" line and tried to pull up beside him on the exit. Instead I tried to outbrake him on the outside, ran out of talent and backed into the tirewall. I shan't make THAT mistake again.
                       
7.  Cool Shirt systems work better when the cooler isn't dumped over from an impact with the wall. As I got back moving again Jeff told me over the radio that "nothing was dangling but it looked like I was leaking fluid". Given that I wasn't being cooled any longer, we figured out the Cool Shirt cooler in the right rear corner of the trunk was disposing of it's contents.
                       
8.  After getting out of the tires I made a "check things out lap", then decided if Kenny Hawkins (I could see his yellow Viper Competition Coupe gaining on me) was going to pass me he would have to earn it. My last lap at a 2:05.4 was faster than I qualified even with the RR corner rearranged, flat-spotted tires and only half a spoiler holding the rear end down.
                       
9.  We ended up finished sixth overall, fifth in GT-1, which is exactly where I was before my "no percentage" move on Lee. My fast race lap was a 2:01.668, which is considerably under the 2:04 I had been shooting for. Boscoe was on the phone lining up parts to repair the car before the checkered flag flew, but even if I hadn't wrecked the car we wouldn't have done Sunday because I had nothing left to prove. We left town around noon on Sunday and got back to Atlanta before the sun went down.
                       
The next event on the schedule is Labor Day weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Even though it's mostly cosmetic I'm not sure we'll be able to get everything repaired in time, but we'll give it a shot and let y'all know as the time gets closer. (Edit - the AMS event ended up getting cancelled when a the Gulf Coast entertained a visitor by the name "Katrina".)
                       
Despite the wreck it was a good weekend. We went faster than I imagined we could have and I know we can go faster next year (and GTA will be a SARRC class so I don't have to kill myself trying to outrun the GT-1 cars). Thanks to all who made it possible - Data, Gramps, Dennis, Frog, Mr. Godzilla, Bosco, Craig, Steve and of course Harriett. I hate that I messed up your pretty car and I won't do it again - at least not at THAT corner <g>!
See y'all at the track...