Wednesday, October 25

Smells like Victory

My good pal and racing partner Ricky has had a heck of a year so far. He'd purchased a new house in swanky Toluca Lake, picked up the costliest car to insure the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR, and managed to get his girlfriend, who lives in Hawaii pregnant... She is due anytime now and Ricky can not wait to fly out there over the weekend to welcome his new baby into this world. I bid him good luck and hoped that he doesn't miss a thing...

Due to all of these good life-changing events, Ricky has not been able to take the old yellow CRX out in the drag strips all year. Usually we enter four to five events throughout the year, anywhere from searing hot Phoenix Arizona to the farm-like drag strips of Sacramento. This year, thus far, we've only entered one event, the 5th annual NHRA Sports compact in Pomona. Basically it's the compact car version of the National Hotrod Racing Association. Hotrods as you may or may not know are the 300+ MPH dragters Top Fuel, Top Fuel Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Bike classes that we see on ESPN and Speed TV. The NHRA sport compact equivalent of these classes are hotrods, pro-fwd, pro-stock and such, Ricky races in the very competitive hotrods class. These many classes get much more complicated with the other drag racing governing bodies like IDRC, NOPI and Battle of the Imports...

Anyway, Ricky's, mine, and the rest of the crews NHRA weekend was somewhat eventful. With the exception of the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes (4 days events) these impressively put-together events are usually only two days, comprising of three qualifying rounds on Saturday, and finally three to five elimination rounds on Sunday depending on the size of the field (generally around 12-16 cars in the hotrod class). Because it is a National Racing event the facility is open the day before the event so race teams could haul in their trailers and their considerable amount of equipment. For us equipment always included BBQ stuff and beer, because drag racing is an all day event with multiple rounds that are staggered all throughout the day, and there's only so many models and race cars you could check out before you run out of things to do. Beer and carne asada always does the trick for me and Butch (Butch is Ricky's younger brother). The first two passes were not clean but was good enough for a respectable 6th place qualifier. 2nd gear, according to Ricky was bogging up, and predicted the transmission would break in the third pass (although unrelated)...

While towing the race car to the staging area all i could think of was what Ricky said about the transmission. Although he said it in a half-kidding way he knows his race car like the back of his hand. Sometimes one tends to prophesy their own downfall, even when they're kidding, you know what i mean? Sure enough the tranny broke right off the line on the 3rd pass, the car traveled a mere 20 feet. The transmission is essentially a stock unit. 600+ horsepowers and over 500 lbs of torque is quite a bit more than what a stock prelude tranny was equipped to handle. With all the preparation put into the car, staging, burnouts etc, the effect was really almost oxymoronic... But, to Ricky's defense, car parts breaking is part of the sport. Its like a blown save in baseball or an interception in Football, it's just part of the territory... The next 3 hours was spent replacing the tranny. Don't get me wrong, i don't know the first thing about it, i just handed the tools over and held the flashlight. An essential part of the job i might add, especially when its dark haha...

Ricky called me the other night, apologizing for not paying me back the Korean BBQ i brought over the weekend. I told him not to worry about it and that i was just happy to be racing again, and although i'm only his designated tow driver, i just love being at the races... I love the smell of C16 race fuel (117 octane) in the morning, smells like Victory haha... "We are Back man" Ricky said confidently in a Fast Eddie Felson kind of a way... I appreciate that he said "We", that's really cool... Apparently after his child is born, he is coming back to run in the IDRC (Import Drag Racing Scene) the 3rd week of November in Fontana. "Heck yea, we'll see you then" i responded excitedly and wished him the best of luck in Hawaii...

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