September 30, 2011

On The Road Again

After spending the first three months of the 2011 season debugging the Barracuda (“If Anything Can Go Wrong, It Will”) and August tuning up the driver the season was almost over.

We were planning to spend the September long weekend relaxing at the lake. However Friday morning of the weekend arrived and I found myself on the Internet checking out the weekend racing schedules. Both Gimli Dragway in Gimli, Manitoba and Oahe Speedway in Pierre, South Dakota were racing. The Weather Network indicated a possibility of showers in Gimli and clear warm weather in Pierre. The decision was made and we were off to Oahe Speedway.

September 2nd & 3rd, 2011 – The Road To Oahe Speedway

The late decision to race at Oahe Speedway, work, loading the Barracuda and a stop in Weyburn to pick up the golf cart delayed our departure to mid-afternoon. Our trip was further delayed at the border as we were lucky enough to be selected for an inspection and interview by the Department of Homeland Security. For a while it looked like we would have to load/unload the Barracuda (which would make it three times for the day, once in Regina, once in Weyburn, and once at the border) but fortunately it did not happen. After an hour’s delay we were on the road again.

As a result of the delays it was 10:30 when we stopped in Bismarck, North Dakota for the night. There we discovered that Bismarck is a busy community as it took five stops before we found a Hampton Inn with a single vacancy. Maybe next time we will make a reservation.

The following day we found that South Dakota had experienced the same flooding and road damage as Saskatchewan necessitating a one-hour detour. Without the detour we would never have driven through Eureka, South Dakota, the home of the founder of the national newspaper “USA Today”. Amazing what you learn on the back roads of South Dakota.

September 3rd – 5th, Oahe Speedway, Pierre, South Dakota

We arrived at Oahe Speedway at noon on Saturday and were immediately impressed with the facility. Large grass pit spots, lots of staging lanes, flush toilets, showers and friendly staff and racers. If you get a chance it’s a great place to visit.

Oahe Speedway is also a great place to race. Great traction, a quick well run program and only $60.00 to race. Diane ran Super Pro (20 car field) and qualified #3 on Saturday and #1 on Sunday with .001 reaction times. Unfortunately we lost in the second round both days with red lights. Monday ended early with a water leak we were unable to fix until after qualifying was completed. However it was still a good weekend with an average reaction time of .025, the best run of the year, 10.531 ET at 125 MPH, and a driver that was making almost error-free runs. (We need to fix those pesky red lights, but they say if you don’t red light occasionally you’re not trying hard enough).

The drive home was uneventful except for Canada Customs deciding it was still our turn and we were delayed for a half-hour while they inspected the truck, trailer, race car and everything else.

September 10th – 11th 2011 SIR, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The next weekend put us at Saskatchewan International Raceway for the final two races of the season.

Saturday ended early with a first round loss (another red light). Sunday was much better with a fourth round loss (we're in the money, we're in the money now) and an average reaction time of .024. The driver was much improved and the crew chief finally set the delay box right and eliminated those pesky red lights.

The year at Saskatchewan International Raceway ended well. Even with missed races at the beginning of the year and a driver coming off a seven year lay-off, we still finished 12th in overall points and managed a 56% winning round percentage.

September 23rd – 25th, Oahu Speedway, Pierre, South Dakota

Our season ended on the road, attending the NHRA Division V National Open at Oahu Speedway. This was our first opportunity to compete in NHRA Superstreet competition this year. Racing in Superstreet offered new challenges. A pro-tree start for the driver and a need for the crew chief the run the Barracuda with the delay box on the starting line and the throttle stop on the track to slow the Barracuda to the 11:00 Superstreet Index.

It had been seven years since we ran in Superstreet but it came back quickly. Diane had great reaction times and the crew chief had the delay box and throttle stops set up well. We qualified #2 on Saturday with an 11.009 ET and #1 on Sunday with a perfect 11.000 ET.

Diane drove both the starting line and the finish line well on both days with a 3rd round loss on Saturday and a 2nd round loss on Sunday. It was great to be running Superstreet again and we resolved to run Superstreet as much as possible in 2012.

This trip began and ended as had our previous trip to Oahe Speedway with Border Inspections both coming and going. However we now think we know why. When they ask the standard question “What do you do?” and we reply “We’re accountants”, they smile, shake their heads and tell us to pull over for an inspection. Everyone knows accountants can’t be racers. Little do they know!

George and Diane

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