Gateway has drag races Saturday nights and they kept Cheryl
and I awake until the rain danced in and shut them down (and
shut them up). It rained hard enough to wash the track and put
many folks in small lakes by morning. Worst off were those who
had put their cars on jack-stands and found the stands serving
as piers in several inches of water!
The track was still a little wet during qualifying and it
seemed a slick. Incredibly, we were faster than the day before.
Rob had replaced a warped rotor after the Regional and now
closed the rest of the gap. We qualified 0.03 seconds apart, a
full second under Saturday's track record. More importantly,
the next SSB car was two seconds and five positions behind us.
We would never see the rest of the SSB class.
We out-qualified an SSA Eclipse and an SSGT Camaro. The
Eclipse pained us early by using his power to get by on the
front straight. He immediately held us up, though, as he was
slow through the turns. He braked unexpectedly early on the
first slow turn and I tapped him, crunching my right-front turn
signal. Eventually I got around him and began to stretch a
small lead as he tangled with Rob, and even blocked him at one
point. When Rob finally got past, he used up his car trying to
run me back down. Meanwhile I had used up most of my car trying
to stretch the lead. I began to feel a vibration on right-hand
turns just after the half-way mark. I figured I'd overheated
the front tire by pressing too hard for too long. I didn't
think there was any way the tire would finish the race and I
backed off a bit.
Rob was on me instantly. The left-front wasn't sticking well
now and I couldn't hold him off, but I couldn't give up too
easily. Rob out-braked me at the end of the front straight and
we went into turn one side-by side. We came out of turn one
side-by-side and I escorted him to turn two, through which we
remained abreast. On the short-shute before turn three I looked
over and saw Rob shaking his head, undoubtedly laughing.
We made it through three and four still hand-in-hand, but I
was losing ground. Turn five is a flat-out, slide-all-over
affair that would see the demise of one of us for sure. I eased
just a bit and tucked in behind. A few turns later he muffed
and I went inside. I couldn't get inside far enough to do any
good but I couldn't get back out fast enough either; I got my
left-front fender crunched. My fault.
A lap later I had another chance to get inside of him, but
my brakes locked and I slid wide. We touched. Oh, hell, we
BANGED! A perfect body-blow, almost door-handle to door-handle.
My fold-up mirror folded up. I felt like this was my fault,
too, but it was mostly a "racing thing". The damage, it turned
out, was not as bad as it felt. I reached out and unfolded my
I stayed close enough to strike, but I settled in to working
on saving the car for the finish. My radio was weak, but a few
laps later I heard static that sounded like, "Last lap!" I
mounted my charge. Rob's brakes were all but gone and he was
braking early. Mine were faded enough that I couldn't get a
serious dive in on him. Rob's a good racer and he wasn't going
to hand it to me. I tried as hard as I could but was still just
off his tail coming around for the checker.