Friday, August 2, 2013

She's Going the Distance

There are two parts ahead of this, running through the trip out. You might want to read them. Part I is here and part II is here.

My codriver, Sam Krauss, did not particularly want to get to the event site by 6:30. But I'm a little spastic in the morning, and since we were in group A, I wanted to get a few walks in, plus make sure everything was good with the car. So, we met in the lobby about 6:10, stopped to grab the ice I promised I'd bring for McCance, and we were on site by 6:30, easy... after all, the hotel Annie got was maybe a mile from the site.

So, with only a hair over 110 entries (similar to last year), the National staff opted for only two groups this year. ESP was in the second half of group A, which meant that as soon as we were done running, we'd be working. It was a little odd to only have two groups at a Pro, but usually the Packwood events are pretty laid back for worker changes so I wasn't concerned.

I was running first, paired up with Greg.

Notice how early I take off on my first left side run? Yeah, a definite red light. I would proceed to have problems with red lights and cones on my left side throughout the day, leaving me third after the morning (Greg had nothing on the right side).

Sam started off well with the car, running a 27.4 on the left (to my coned 27.7) and a 28.7 on the right (I had a 28.9). This would be good enough to put him in first for the afternoon runs, ahead of Kit Gauthier by 0.4.

We had almost 90 minutes for a lunch break, so there was time to grab something from the on site grill (which was a fund raiser for a local church youth group) plus walk again. Sam and I discussed how the car was handling, and it seemed fine to both of us, despite my two red lights.We prepared for the afternoon battle.
Pointing out the magnetic on the rear may have incited Greg to drive better
Annie had pointed out that the Packwood surface tends to deteriorate over the event, so that the afternoon runs weren't as quick as the morning, though I hadn't experienced that in the previous events I'd attended. Sam, however, wasn't able to match his morning times, while Greg and Kit improved, leaving Sam in third and Greg in the lead.

Meanwhile, I did have better times, though my red light/cone issues on the left continued, so for Sunday morning, I'd still be sitting on my coned 27.7 for that side. I also coned a 0.3 improvement on the right. :( I'd go into Sunday's runs DFL. I was particularly angry about my red light on my last left side run, where I thought I'd given myself plenty of time to be green. I guess I deep staged or something.

We finished up fairly early due to the two heat format, so we walked the courses, then sat and talked with McCance who shared some brews, including the Hellrazer IPA I'd brought. He relayed that he'd "detuned" his car to drive up on 91 octane (it was usually running E85), and that his driver side seat was miserable for a road trip. I sat in it momentarily and pronounced it unfit for even four runs in a heat at a Pro. Seriously, it has a weird hump in the lumbar area that is awful. I don't know how he dealt with it for however many hours of a drive.

Eventually, Sam and I decided to head into town for a quick bite, and ended up going back to the Blue Spruce. Things certainly seemed dead there this year, as there was no karaoke, and I think a lot of people just stayed on site for the Hymans' party, where we eventually went. Eric was gladly pouring margaritas for all -- heck, we'd barely come within the RV's perimeter, and he was already pouring drinks -- though even here, things seems a bit more subdued than last year. I'm not sure which key element was missing, but while we had fun, it was definitely not the same.

Sunday morning was do-or-die for me. I needed a clean left side time to get out of the basement. I was getting frustrated, especially after the last one caught me off guard, and wasn't feeling particularly confident that I could pull it off. My times were good, just dirty.

Sam started off much as he had when he ran my car at the NJ ProSolo -- he spun on the left. He followed that up with... I don't know exactly what he did. I just know that when he came in, there was a cone wedged under the car that didn't want to come out, plus my front bumper cover was so askew, the fog lights were ready to go BMW and fall out. He was officially credited with three cones, but it didn't matter. The time wasn't there on that run, much less the next two. Meanwhile, Greg didn't improve either ("BFGs aren't morning peoples" is what he says about his tires), but Kit dropped a few tenths on the left side.

The door was open.

I was starting on the right, with the knowledge that I had to get a clean left side time. I launched somewhat tentatively and got a 0.7 -- my slowest all weekend. Taking that into consideration, the 29.1 I ran was on par with the 28.9 I was sitting on. Then the left side. I waited, waited, and waited, making sure I had a good, green light (another 0.7), and then stayed off the cones. The result was a clean-but-slow 28.5 which put me into fourth. Another right side, and another mediocre effort that was no faster than Saturday's last run had me slide back to fifth when Jessy ran a 28.1. So, it was all on the last run, and I knew it. I cranked out another 0.5 light, and proceeded to run a respectable 27.642. Why couldn't I have done that earlier and been in contention for the lead?

I was a bit defeated by my performance, but I was given a chance to redeem myself.... I was chosen for the bonus challenge! Except.... I was up against an F Stock Firebird, of all things. Why did it have to be an FS F-body?

I tried, I really did. But we were on our own indexes, and so he probably had an advantage, especially being on street tires, while I was on cold A6s. Still, he went on to win, so I was okay with bowing out in the first round. Plus, any event where I can drive the WRX home is a good event. ;) I parked the car, then went to work the starter position for the Super Challenge, where Stephen Hui would take the win and McCance would go out in the round of 8.
It's truly a unicorn. It makes its own rainbow running board stripe.
While I was working, Sam graciously changed tires for me, then Greg and Sam helped me load the car and we enjoyed some beer while just talking. Since we were done so early, it was weird heading out by 4PM (the Challenges were done just after 2!), but it gave me the opportunity to get as far as Ontario, OR for the night.

Final Results for the ProSolo

Rimrock Reservoir. Near this site, a homestead lies underwater, bought back by the government when the reservoir was planned
Lots of wind driving the waves on the reservoir
Overlooking the Umatilla Reservation from I-84

Full moon over Deadman Pass
Sunset at Deadman Pass

Moonrise at Deadman Pass
From Ontario, I'd head to the wondrous sight of the salt flats to try to take my mind off my poor showing at Packwood...

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