Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Arse-Freeze-A-Palooza, Buttonwillow

We... totally didn't win! But then, we weren't trying to. If, as my fridge magnets inform me, life is all about the journey, then a LeMons weekend is mostly about the drive... to and from Bakersfield, in a desperate, inevitable quest for spare parts.

The Shadow ran well(ish) and finished under its own power, which in LeMons terms is a stunning victory. (It sure feels like one when the checkered flag flies and the car's still turning laps.) It ran hot as hell through most of the race, mostly 1 tick mark below "oh my god I'm about to explode" on the temp gauge, but it never actually overheated, and any damage incurred from two days of hurtling around a track at glowing hot temps hasn't surfaced yet.

We finished in 113th place, of a field of 173 - having lost 1 hour of saturday morning due to transponder failure (the alternator belt ate the transponder cable), and most of saturday afternoon due to having melted a brake caliper while hurtling down the back straight at 95mph. (Jinnah was driving; he kept it on the track despite having lost 90% of braking power. When he brought it in, the brake pad was hanging in pieces from the caliper, and the rotor was gouged and bent, and the caliper was all melty.) Lucky for us, the Autozone in lovely Lamont, CA had new calipers, rotors, pads, lines and caliper pins all in stock, and we were back on the track for all of Sunday. (Which did include some "Oh shit it's overheating" troubleshooting... among other issues, we have a busted radiator cap.)

The Shadow crossed the line under its own power having done 143 (recorded) laps - 169 short of the race winner. No sweeter feeling than the checkered flag flying on the last day, while your car's still running. My favorite part of a lemons race is the end, when the cars parade slowly back in, and the pits are lined with people clapping and cheering. The judges came down to high-5 all the drivers as we filed off the track. Awesome community feeling right then.

What are we going to do next race? Same thing we do every race: drive as fast as we can and try to stay out of trouble! Maybe in the minivan. I won't lie, though -- it's exciting and different to actually have a chance to pass other cars. Go shadow!