Riverside at Mission

Mission, British Columbia, Canada
April 23 and 24, 2005

I'm getting used to Mission. Its tiny little turns and complete lack of a straightaway don't bother me as much as they used to. In fact, I find them a great way to kick off a season. Our first race there leaves me shocked back into the racing mindset, thinking about the car techinically and about my weight transfer in particular.

The forecast for Sunday went from certainly sunny to probably rainy late in the week. This is of concern, of course: it's hard to drive the tiny little course in the rain, even when I'm in mid-season form.

During the test-and-tune on Friday, I felt rather strange. When driving, I prefer to be barely concious of my surroundings. But during my three sessions, I felt like I was completely aware of everything. My mind kept returning to the car itself, and I frequently caught myself not looking into corners and thinking about the nose of the car.

I left the track around 4pm to go and check-in. I showered, unpacked, and went back to the track just in time to get in line for registration. I was the second driver registered and the first through techincal inspection. Known for being very zealous, techical inspection at Mission is always a hit-or-miss proposition. The inspector who worked my car and equipment was in a great mood, however, and I breezed through. By 530pm, I was at the 14th Street Bar.

Most of the guys like to hang out at the hotel bar, Fogg on the River. The waitresses are all very attractive, though not very flirty. At the 14th Street, the prices are much more reasonable and one can bump elbows with the locals. It's truly a negibhorhood bar.

My heart was broken when I entered, however: they convereted the corner of the bar into a "gaming area". One plasma screen TV behind the bar was dedicated to BC Lottery Keno drawing numbers: what a waste! The bar had pull-tab bins behind it, and glass cutouts in the drinking surface which showcased expensive scratch-off ticket booklets.

The food is great: I had an eight-dollar ceasar salad with chicken that I couldn't even see over. I downed a few beers, and watched the locals play their money away.

The Keno games are particularly annoying because the payouts are terrible. I don't mind throwing the dice or playing blackjack at a casnio because the odds are reasonable even if the house does take some juice. But the payout for winning even a simple Keno bet (say, hit one of twenty choose eighty) are about one in four ... while the lotto will pay you only $2 on a one-dollar bet for two-to-one odds! The harder bets are even worse: hitting all eight numbers on an eight-number pick is about a one in a quarter-million chance, but you'll win only ten grand for a dollar bet.

Anyway, after having a couple of beers, I went back to Fogg's. I bumped into Guy and one of his Datsun friends, Skip Jones. I had a few more beers while we talked into the night. It was lots of fun, but I certainly regretted it the next morning. It's foolish to waste the race weekend like that, and it should've been a lesson I already know. I've been very stressed at work and really need time to get away, apart from racing. If I could do that, I wouldn't try to load a careless vacation into a race weekend.

Mark Cockle came up to met me, and Mark McClure was already at the track with his brother and friend. McClure and I pitted nearby so that Mark Cockle could help us both. Everything was going well, but I felt like my car was pushing a bit in T1. Probably becaue I needed to slow down more at entry and be patient with the throttle--but I still wanted the car to hook up better.

Mark helped me set tire pressure; and we later softened the suspension. The push got better, and I felt like I could learn to deal with it. I spent some time between sessions walking around and finding my friends. But lots of people weren't around: Will, for example, and the Strictly guys.

I packed it in to go back to the hotel before the novice race, and Mark stayed behind to watch the novice races. I got a nap in, and I really needed that. But I missed a spectacular crash: apparently, a couple of CRXen got together and ended their racing careers.

Mark, Mark, Jeff, and Mike and I all got together for a more peaceful dinner at Fogg's. We had a great time; I like Mark McClure, and we had fun clowning around.

Liz was texting me often with weather updates from the Internet. It wasn't quite Ferrari's setup with doppler radar on the pit caddy, but it really helped. The rain got called off, and we had a very clean run on Sunday. I ended up qualifying in the top ten overall in both Group 1 and Group 5, and that was very pleasing. Skip Yocom, my nemsis from last year, wasn't at the race so I had a great chance to earn some points to win an early battle in an anticipated year-long points war.

Guy's new car in C Production should be very reliable and be a challenge during the rest of the year. He was within two-tenths of me in qualifying, and I had set a personal record!

My ITS race went well, though I got a crappy start. I hate starting through the kink. An RX7 got under my right-hand side, and I had to adjust everything to get through T1. That cost me at least three positions. I ended up besting my personal record by about 0.8, so I was pleased ... though I still couldn't catch that fast Acura driven by David Stenner. I turned a fast lap within 0.030 of his time, and still couldn't catch him.

John Osborne and I had tons of fun playing around in the first few laps. We probably went through T2 side-by-each four times in a row. I couldn't make anything stick, and ended up making a mistake or two. I couldn't reel him in before the end of the race.

Frustratingly, I was 0.065 shy of setting the track record for C Production, and I walked away from Guy Selle (the other C Production driver) pretty early. Jeff caught up, but he runs SPM. He's really getting faster, so I kept showing him the tight line in T1; after two or three laps, he took it and walked away as I cooled it. I was about half a lap ahead of Guy.

A lot of the regulars weren't there; turnout was very light.

Ken gave me an annual inspection, so I don't have to deal with the technical inpection variance anymore (mostly) throughout the year. That's a real load off, and I'm thrilled that Ken kindly spent some time during the day to help me out.

Mark McClure had a gerat Group 5 race. He lost pole because of some noise problems, which seems terribly arbitrary because hs car is certainly not as loud as some of the RX7ens that show up. He added some steel wool and a deflector and that was enough to get him within tolerance. He took the win away from the pole winner, but his car started sputtering near the end of the race. Unfortunately, it woudln't start in Group 1.

His Caterham Super 7 is a real nice rig. It weighs just half as much as my battle waggon, but has almost as much power. It has to be a real hoot to drive!

I can't wait for Portland. Meanwhile, I have to get busy with tallying the points.