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Road Atlanta SARRC & Blue Ridge Lawn Mower Races
      
Been a long time since our last update (after Lowe's Motor Speedway the end of June), mainly because a lot has happened since then.  For those that want the abbreviated version, second at Road Atlanta, first in class (and third overall) at the Blue Ridge Hill Climb, next events are Nashville SuperSpeedway Sept. 2 & 3, then the SARRC Invitational Challenge (in Savannah) Sept. 23, 24.
 
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Longer version (and infinitely more entertaining):
 
The good news out of the Road Atlanta weekend is that we confirmed the handling problems we had at Lowe's were definitely due to the tires. We bolted on a sticker set of Goodyear 1132s (the spec tire of GTA in SEDIV), qualified seventh overall and first in GTA with a best lap of 1:36.983, then moved up to sixth overall when pole-sitter Kirk Riddle ventilated his block near the end of the second qualifying session. Cuervo was very predictable and I was happy with the lap times considering the conditions. I got a good jump at the green to move into fifth overall, then settled down to run pretty consistent 1:36's (best lap was 1:36.624) and pulled away from the second place GTA car (Steve Magowen) by about three seconds a lap. Data, Gramps and Harriett were giving me intervals over the radio all the way around the track, so I waved George Kirchner, Todd Carter and Jim King by pretty quickly since they are running in SPO and I didn't need to wear Cuervo (or myself) out trying to race them. My only concern was staying ahead of my main competition for the 2006 SARRC GTA title.
 
As we started lap 13 (of 15) I was seventh overall and had about a forty second lead over Steve when the car started sputtering as I entered Turn Six. I looked down at the fuel pressure gauge after coming out of Turn Seven, and it was on ZERO! I coasted into the cut-through after Turn Eight, calmly shut everything down and reported to the crew what had happened, then watched as Steve went past to take the victory and Zach Monette (third place GTA car) went by to unlap himself. Fortunately (for me, not him), Zach pulled in that lap with a slipping clutch, so I got a second place finish even though I was sitting on the side of the road with an empty gas tank.
 
Needless to say the guys felt REALLY bad about what had happened, but the wooden dowel we use to measure the fuel level is (was) pretty hard to read. We thought we had twelve gallons in the cell (which should be plenty for a 15 lap race at Road Atlanta), but it ends up we may only have had nine gallons in the car. Yet again I managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but suffice it to say we've changed the method for reading how much fuel is in the cell and THAT particular screw-up shan't happen again!
 
Two weeks later Data & I took Cuervo to the Blue Ridge Hill Climb in Sparta, NC, rather than making the long trek to Daytona the same weekend. It was somewhat a return to my roots (my first hill climb was at Chimney Rock back in '82 with my old '69 Corvette), but it was also a chance to reward Data for his hard work this year by letting him drive (the Time Trial format is ideally suited to two-driver cars). Rich Shafer & I had a nice little battle for first "real" car (George Bowland blew us all away with his high-downforce, "no need to lift" hillclimb special), but I ended up .11 seconds behind Rich for third overall, first in GTA. Data also consistently ran sub-1:00 runs after getting comfortable with Cuervo and had a good enough time that he's now seriously considering buying his own GTA car.
 
Highlight of the weekend, however, was Saturday night's lawnmower race! In a cross-event promotional event six of us were invited to run lawnmowers on the 1/10th mile dirt oval at the Sparta fairgrounds, and being third overall at the time I was one of the invitees. There was a certain degree of trepidation on my part, some because it meant I couldn't fully participate in the social following runs at the hill Saturday afternoon but also because I didn't want to do poorly at something I'd never done before. That was further amplified when we got to the fairgrounds and found probably 5,000 spectators filling the grandstands and milling about the paddock area - these folks take their racing seriously!
 
Bottom line, I started on the pole, got a good jump on the green and led every lap to the checker. There was some discussion that my mower got kinda wide near the end of the race, but with no mirrors and no spotter, how the heck could I be blocking? The crowd loved the show and Harriett said it was a really neat touch that we all wore our driving suits - it separated us from the regular riders that evening. I made my victory lap with a MAJOR grin on my face, then we all went out to take a bow after it was over. Just a really, really neat time and goes to show you that racing is racing regardless of what you're pedalling. I've still got a grin on my face as I type this and relive the evening in my mind. <g>
 
Our next SCCA event is the SARRC race at Nashville SuperSpeedway Labor Day weekend. This will be our first time ever running a road race at that track, so it should be interesting (let me know if you'd like more information).
 
If I don't mess up and we manage to win GTA at Nashville then Steve Magowen and I will be tied in points going into the SARRC Championship race at Roebling Road Sept. 23 & 24. Whichever one of us finishes ahead of the other there will win the first-ever SARRC GTA Championship, so you know both of us will be loaded for bear going into that weekend.
 
See y'all at the track...