June is shaping up to be a very long month. I’ll be away from Jenifer and Sophia for the entire month and I’m not happy about it. We were expecting to be able to have them fly out for the race, but finances are tight and it’s just not possible. I miss them already.
Wednesday, June 1: Here’s the plan. I head out tomorrow afternoon with my first stop Friday morning in Fontana, CA to pick up two sets of brand new Federal Motorsports Semi Slick FZ201 tires. We’ll be debuting the tires here in the US for Federal Motorsports, along with Dave Kern and Savannah Rickli. No sponsorship, yet, just a feeling out by both parties to see if our car and their tires get along. If so, we might be talking turkey after Pikes Peak.
Friday night I finally get to meet NICOclub.com owner Greg Childs. Him and the other fine folks at NICO have been a big help over the past three years. We’ll meet somewhere in the greater Phoenix area for a quick meal before Brandon and I press on to Dallas.
Once we get to Dallas the real work begins. There is a laundry list of things that still need to be completed, including the final tune, before we head off to Hallett Raceway in Oklahoma to test the new tires. The Hallett event is a NASA Time Trial and will be held on June 11th and 12th. If you’re anywhere near the venue, please stop by and say hi.
After Hallett we drive straight on to Colorado. I’m going to find a quiet, uninhabited, graded gravel road and see how the new tires like the dirt.
Short week then we have the Global Rallycross event at PPIR. I am abso-friggin-lutely hooked on this series and I’m glad I’ll be there for this event. I’ll be talking to some of the drivers and crews for future My Life at Speed feature articles.
As soon as that’s over, it is Pikes Peak week. Tech Tuesday, Practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Tiring and stressful are the norm and I expect this year to be just the same. Then finally, on Sunday, we get to make our one and only shot for the glory.
Thursday, June 2: Jen worked from home today so we could spend a little more time together. She picked up Brandon from school while I finished packing and loading the truck. Brandon will be coming with me and will then spend the rest of the summer with his Mom and Grandma. We load up a little after 1:30, say goodbye to Jen and are on our way. We cross over into California’s central valley and make our way south. An uneventful drive that I’ve made at least half a dozen times since moving back to California in December. I’ve never been a huge fan of this drive, but it is the quickest way from the Bay Area to SoCal.
We manage to miss traffic in the LA area and make it to my Grandfathers house in Midway City safely. We made pretty good time from the Bay Area. Just six hours door to door, including a pit stop and a roll through the In-N-Out. Finishing some work work tonight, then a good sleep before picking up the new Federal Motorsports tires tomorrow morning in Fontana. Also hoping to make a quick stop in Redlands to see fellow Hill Climber, Roy Tomkins. His 1980 Corolla is finished and ready for the Peak. Wait till you see some of Roy’s fab skills. WOW. Double wow. I’ll post photos…And look for a feature article on Roy’s shop, ODR Fab, sometime in the near future.
Friday, June 3: Brandon and I are up early today. We say goodbye to Grandpa and make a quick stop at Costco to fill up the truck. Soon we are on our way to the ATV tire warehouse to pick up our tires from Federal Motorsports. W arrive at the warehouse and find Enrique, the warehouse manager. He has a couple guys round up the tires while we do some re-arranging in the truck bed to make them all fit. Space now cleared, we load up the tires and make our way back to the freeway.
Next stop is ODR fab in Redlands. We are hoping to catch Roy Tomkins and see his progress on his Pikes Peak Time Attack car, but unfortunately, Roy is out for the morning. With time being tight, we head back out to I-10 and get on our way to Phoenix. We’re Planing on Dinner with NICOclub.com owners Greg and Becky Childs. The drive to Phoenix is uneventful and we make good time. We contact Greg and find a place to meet for dinner. Another quick stop at the local Costco for fuel and we’re on our way to meet them.
Meeting Greg and Becky and two of their daughters was allot of fun. We had really great conversations about Pikes Peak, NICO and cars in general. We get a chance to rest from the already long drive before heading back out onto the road for the really long stretch from Phoenix to Dallas. After saying our goodbyes to Greg and his family, Brandon and I settle in for a long evening. We are hoping to make El Paso tonight, but come midnight we’re both pretty tired and ready for a bed. We end up in Wilcox, AZ, and a Motel 6 is our only option for inexpensive lodging. Brandon is horrified. He hasn’t had the pleasure of staying in any one star motels and is wishing out loud that we had gone on to El Paso. Not that there’s anything better in El Paso that might be in our budget, but what does he know, he’s only eight. Not wanting to risk losing the tires to some naer-do-well, I unload them into the hotel room for safekeeping. A quick shower and off to bed. Tomorrow brings another long stretch of highway and 13+ hours of driving.
Saturday, June 4th: A not so restful night sleep in my “definitely the bottom of the heap” motel 6 bed, with matching “this is the crappiest pillow ever” pillow. Already hot and sunny when we wake, I load up the tires and our gear and Brandon and I are back on the road. A lonely stretch of interstate through the desert now separates us from El Paso. We make good time and hit the border of Texas after a quick fill up in Las Cruces. I point out to Brandon that we can see Mexico from here, and he questions whether or not I know what I’m talking about. How can you see a whole other country just a few hundred feet away.
There’s no hurrah when we cross the border into Texas. It’s just a marker on our long drive that tells me I still have 600+ miles to go and ten plus hours left to behind the wheel. Brandon is unimpressed with the “not so different scenery from the last state we were in” and turns his attention to his DS. I point out places along the way and he responds with his typical, “oh”. I’m tired by mid day and start making phone calls in an attempt to help the slowly moving time pass just a little quicker. I have a great conversation with Grant Barclay about Savannah Rickli’s testing. He’s pleased with her performance, and the new Federal Motorsports tires. We make plans to test together early in the race week at PPIR. I need to remember to call PPIR about track time. I’ve now decided to scrub my planned test at Hallett and just do this one day test in Colorado the day before we tech. I’ll save some money and give Brice more time to get our new Fuel Injector Clinic Injectors installed and re-tune the motor. It also means I can have friends in Colorado mount the new tires for me and fill them and my air tank with Nitrogen. Get in touch with Steve Bennett…where did I put my tire pressure gauge?
Late night now, and we’re finally rolling into my folks driveway. It’s been a ridiculously long drive down from the Bay Area and I’m glad it’s finally over. In my youth I could do this drive in one sitting, straight through, 25+ hours and still have enough energy to go party after I arrived. Now, it’s a three day trek and I’m wasted when I get here. Being 41 and out of shape kinda sucks. We have a nice visit with my folks that lasts well past midnight. They’re night people anyways and are usually up much later than that. I get Brandon ready for bed, and I follow soon after. There’s much to do and I need to get started first thing.
Next: In Texas for a week of final prep.