Monday, August 22, 2011
Sprint Car Driver?
The Eastern Museum of Motor Racing (www.emmr.org) held its 37th annual Convention this past weekend at the Latimore Valley Fairgrounds. I have been attending events at Latimore for as long as I can remember. This weekend though, I got a whole different perspective on it.
My friend Roy Caruthers had mentioned earlier in the week that he and Josh Shaw would be coming in from Indiana and Ohio with a few cars to run on the track. A text message from Roy on Friday said to make sure I was at Latimore Saturday, I may be able to drive a sprint car. Really??!!??
I brought a drivers suit that someone had given me, along with an old leather covered helmet that I picked up a while back. Not too sure if I would run or not... but I wanted to be prepared. I met up with Roy and Josh while they were sorting out some problems with one of their cars. Roy said "go get your suit, your driving the #10.
I had thought these cars may have been converted to have a starter, flywheel, clutch, etc.....A quick crash course from Josh proved me wrong. Strap in... pull the in/out out of gear till your on the track... drop it in gear... once the push truck starts going... turn on the fuel.... once the tires start spinning and you have oil pressure, turn on the magneto..... Josh's other advice was to not be concerned with the sounds that may appear as if the car is coming apart. "They're race cars, that what they sound like"
So I strapped in... did what I was supposed to and it fired off without a problem. I bit nervous I gingerly rolled onto the throttle here and there, trying to get a feel for the car. With what little bit I got on the gas, I could definitely feel the power...
I made an attempt to get moving faster and faster... trying to slide and power through the corners slightly beyond a snails pace. Before I knew it... they waved the checkered and I had to return to the pits. Turn off the fuel, pull it out of gear, run out of fuel, shut off magneto....
One more round to go... I had a feel for the car a little so I had hoped to be able to go a little harder this time.
In total these guys brought 3 cars, and for this round they wanted to try to photograph them all together. So I was told to try to keep up!...
I made an attempt at staying with the pack, and I think did pretty well...
Following Josh and Van May, I got quite a face full of dirt from time to time... but it gave me a pace that I could maintain and know it wasn't beyond the capabilities of the car or the track. In other words, eliminating some variables in my mind.
Once we got the green I was trying a bit harder to give it power in the corners... I even passed someone!
Its hard to explain the feeling of power that you get from these cars.
There's no flywheel putting any drag on the drive train. Just a fuel injected small block Chevy hooked directly to the rear end in a sub 1500lb car.
Punching the throttle gave instantaneous almost violent acceleration.
All in all it was something I won't forget and I can't thank Roy, Josh, Ken and everyone else involved with the cars enough.
I was always unsure if it was worth the effort to build and maintain a car to only run at a controlled speed a few times a year... but now... I've really got the itch!
I had to borrow a safer (though a bit too big) helmet for the 2nd round.
Photos are by Tony DeSeta (buildy)