Last night I performed the RC version of a soccer player’s greatest acting gig: flopping and writhing in pain in order to draw a foul when he knows that he’s been beat. You’ve seen it on TV – the forward stays onside long enough to get the lob pass from midfield, fails to outrun the last defender, and in a last-second desperation attempt to beat the goalie he slips and flails wildly in order to try and contact the legs of the guy who blasts the ball out of his possession and into the bleachers. It’s a sad tale of rejection and failure…that I’m sure at least a few of you will find funny.
If you read my blog last week you know all about my last-second decision/convincing/coercion to race stock (17.5) buggy for the first time in ten years. You probably also laughed with/at my struggles all night long just to get on pace with the locals who have been racing the class for a while now, with many more laps of experience on the layout. At one point in the race I had the chance to take the lead, blew it completely when the leader crashed and I wasn’t able to dodge him, and spent the rest of the race trying to catch back up.
Despite the comical frustration I still enjoyed the challenge. I decided to do it again last night, and armed with more practice (and warning) than last week I introduced a couple of new obstacles just to make it fun. Why not, right? I coaxed my girlfriend into attending with me under the promise that we’d leave early if needed in order to pick up her parents from the airport (we were over an hour late – more on that later), and after stopping by her house to pick her (and the knitting she brought to keep herself entertained) up I got to the track about 15 minutes before the start of racing – just enough time to get my car ready for the first qualifier, sans practice.
Here goes nothing.
The first round actually went quite well. With everyone spread out due to the IFMAR qualifying format I didn’t have any of the other leaders on which to gauge how fast I needed to be going – as you’ll notice, my fastest lap was quite a bit slower than the drivers who finished second and third. Both “Big Dunn” (a track employee) and Connor Howard, the young teen who lent me a stock motor and then proceeded to beat me anyway, were ahead of me for much of the race but suffered from long crashes that allowed me to win the round using old age and treachery – my only mistake was a rollover on the center peristyle corner and I landed back on my wheels anyway. I had a feeling that my TQ time would fall in the second round, but after spending last week’s first round in complete agony I was enthralled with the improvement. So far so good!
The second round wasn’t so bad either. I tried to rush a pass on a group of three slower cars on the second lap of the race, rather than being patient, and it cost me – dearly. I improved my fastest lap from the first round and had I not crashed at the beginning of the race I could’ve won this heat as well, but if “Big Dunn” hadn’t crashed twice he would’ve beat me convincingly. Whatever – I knew I was much closer than last week, was much more prepared, and excited to run the main. I spent the downtime convincing my wonderfully supportive other half that her parents wouldn’t mind if we were a bit late to get them so that we could stay for the main event – thus using up the rest of my good luck for the night.
Before you scroll down to the next photo and start laughing, here’s how to read the lap time charts for those of you that aren’t familiar with what the bottom mess of numbers means.
Lap #: Position/Lap Time
Projected finishing time in Laps/Minutes:Seconds
So when you look immediately below my name and see:
That means that on lap 1 I was in 2nd, with a 22.899 lap time. Continuing at that pace I would’ve finished the race with 14 laps in 5 minutes, 20.586 seconds. Got it? Good. Here’s the main event results with lap times below.
The race got off to a rocky start. “Big Dunn” hesitated badly at the start tone and I had to check up, meaning that I had the nine buggies behind me breathing down my neck going into the first corner – a huge wall-ride that runs along the entire right side of the track. After all of the first-lap shenanigans sorted themselves I was back in 2nd and in a position to capitalize on Big Dunn’s big crash on lap five to take the lead. I took a deep breath, kicked it into cruise control, and started thinking – which is never a good thing.
“Barring disaster I should be able to lock this thing up. Even the announcer is impressed with my progress from last week.”
“Dude, I’m sure glad I talked her into staying for the main – at least it wasn’t for nothing. I can make it up to her parents later.”
“Ah man, we never bothered to get anything to eat. I’m starving.”
“This race has gone too smoothly. I wonder what lap traffic is going to be like?”
I got my answer to that last question less than a minute later, but not before crashing on the center peristyle that bit me in the first round. Now in a slight panic after losing much of the gap I had on second I forced my way past a slower car in the same corner that I tried pulling the same move in the second round – with the same result. After the turn marshal separated my car from the lapper that didn’t heed my dive-bomb pass attempt (setting his car down first, of course) I had dropped back to 4th and it was all I could do to get back to 3rd before the race ended.
I couldn’t help but laugh. I reported to my turn marshal cone for the next main event, packed my stuff, and we sped off to the airport while I contemplated how I could possibly apologize for being late. For some reason, “sorry we kept you waiting – I was busy blowing my chance to win the race tonight” didn’t have a very nice ring to it.
I’ll get ’em next week.