One of the World’s Shortest Race Reports!
THE PLAN: Leave the Plain City shop, enjoy a leisurely drive to Elkhart Lake, meet up with the Texas crew, jointly crew the car, win the race and then turnover Mr. Feathers to them to take back to the Eagles Canyon, Texas for a motor change in preparation for the race at Watkins Glen NY three week later. E.Z. – P.Z. “What could possibly go wrong?”
REAL LIFE: 9 am, Wednesday, July 12th, The Leadfoot transporter and Mr. Feathers roll out of our Plain City shop for the 10-hour sprint to Elkhart Lake WI.
11:00 am – I-70 West – just over the Ohio border into Indiana. A brand-new trailer tire shred itself. Hum? Brand new tire – just a fluke. We put on the spare and continue.
12:45 pm – the middle of Indiana – a second new tire shreds itself and we are out of spares. A couple of phone calls and an amazingly short 3 hours later, “Indiana Mobile Truck Tire” has us back onto the road – albeit with a slightly lighter wallet.
6:00 pm – Gary Indiana. For those of you that aren’t familiar with midwestern geography, the shortest (and normally the fastest) route to get to Upper Eastern Wisconsin from Central Ohio is to drive 4 hours northwest to Gary Indiana, get on the elevated “Chicago Skyway”, taking it around the bottom of Lake Michigan, connect to I-94 and on up and right through downtown Chicago, continuing north through the line of suburbs that connect North Chicago to Milwaukee.
As an aside, the entire Gary to Milwaukee trip is heavily “tolled” by pay by mail license plate reading robots and I am guessing, but I would say that the several hundred dollars, pay by mail toll burden greatly reduces the traffic thus moving the interstate along at a decent clip – even under the shadows of the huge skyscrapers of downtown Chicago. Now I say, “Normally” but with our pitstops, we managed to hit this section of our journey right smack dab in the middle of rush hour. Now, regardless of what the media says about how we are all working from home, I can guarantee from personal observation that was not the case on the southwestern side of Lake Michigan on the 13th. of July. Not to beat this up but flat tires, rush hour traffic and the heaviest road construction that I have seen in years turned the original 10-hour “Sprint” to Elkhart into an 18-hour Endurance Race.
Now normally, just out of Milwaukee you’d branch off onto rural roads for the final 60 miles to RA. but since it was now almost 10pm, we’re going to head straight to our motel in Manitowoc which calls for an absolutely breathtaking drive up I-43 skirting Lake Michigan – except that at midnight you can’t see anything.
We finally arrived at our hotel room at Manitowoc at 2:30 AM – Thursday morning.
Thursday morning – 8 am. Road America – the race – remember the race? After about 3 hours sleep, a quick shower and a couple of gallons of coffee, we are off to the track where we breeze through registration and call Edward to hop in a golf cart and get us.
Road America is a huge racing facility and while there is the normal track infrastructure (maintenance & admin. buildings, hospital, concession stands, etc.) one can’t help but be awed by watching the 600 race car teams, 500 racing officials, hundreds of vendors and 40,000 camping spectators turn 700 hundred acres of forest and farmland into an overnight city. A city which is slightly larger than half the population of Green Bay. Edward arrives, leads the way to our temporary home for the weekend – which I might add encompasses three semi rigs and 3 – 40’ long fifth wheel trailers. “Wow, Edward! I did not know that you were bringing along so many people!” Overall, there were ten race cars in our group.
Now – pay attention because this story ends as fast as it started. I run the first test session – and immediately the red oil warning light is intermittently blinking. I blast back into the pits, we check everything – oil level is fine, temps. are ok, but we turn the dry sump pump pressure screw up a half turn to be safe. Run second session – red oil light now more insistent. “Hum?” Now, these aluminum motors cost upwards of 65K and this one has almost thirty races on it, this is amateur racing, and we are there with the express purpose of getting the car to Duntov to thus we prudently decided to park it. End of Leadfoot’s on-track weekend. We are now officially spectators.
Saturday – bored with watching, we climb in the truck and head back to base – empty trailer in tow. And, as we speak, Mr. Feathers is in Texas in a bunch of pieces, Rufus (aluminum big block #1) is on its way to Sacramento, aluminum big block #2 is on its way from Sacramento to Eagles Canyon, and a new fuel cell, oil coolers, power steering, rebuilt transmission and an extreme duty differential are being pulled off of the shelf to go into Mr. F. while the Leadfoot crew is back in Plain City working on the TransAm Mustang. There you have it “Friends of the Leadfoot Feather” and please accept this as the Road America race report. See you at Watkins Glen and “Thanks for reading” – Colby