July 19, 1997
We had the most remarkable race to date. As usual Rob and I planned to come back on Friday night. At the time I was working in Richmond, Virginia while he was at school in Blacksburg, Virginia. At around 11:30 pm he phoned me because he was stranded along the way. His motorcycle broke down not far from school. After futile attempts to get him a bus or train ticket to Northern Virginia early the next morning, I decided to make the five hour trip to pick him up.
At 12:30 am I was on the road, headed for Blacksburg. Rob was able to push-start his bike and limp back to school without a headlight. Several hours later I was involved in an accident only 50 miles from Blacksburg. It's not every day one can walk away from a 65 mph (road car) crash.
I had to wait two hours for a tow truck. Fortunately, I have a friend who lives nearby, and had the car towed to his father's machine shop. Then he gave me a ride to the rental car agency. I rented a car and made it to school at 9:00 am. Rob drove while I got some sleep.
We made it back and loaded the van. When we arrived at the track there was just enough time to get the kart together and head to the grid for the first heat. We did manage to mount a new set of wheels and tires that were wider and softer than our old ones. It was unfortunate we did not have time to practice and properly set up the kart.
I was up first in the Yamaha Light class. There was a good sized field and it was great. I started third and passed for the lead within the first lap. I went wide a couple of times and wound up fourth, a bit disappointed but not extremely so considering our situation.
In the Yamaha Heavy heat, Rob crashed into a spinning kart on the first lap. The accident was entirely not his fault. Instead of practicing during intermission we had to buy the parts and repair the damage, which was considerable. Due to the front tire going flat we had to revert back to our old front tires.
Luckily we were able to buy the needed parts. I had never experienced working on the kart with a hacksaw, hammer and vice clamp. We were able to bend, mend and replace everything before the feature races. I also had time to collect my thoughts and stretch.
I was on the outside line (4th) for the feature but bobbled slightly in the opening laps, allowing one kart to slip by. After that I found myself in a state that I had experienced the week before while visualizing. My breathing became more conscious, I found better driving lines, and I began to sense more of the nuances of the kart. It was great. Sixth place tried to pass me from about the fourth lap until near the end. But I was just quick enough to hold him off.
Rob was able to move up as high as third in his feature race by avoiding a few incidents. Though near the end he went wide and put a wheel off slightly, which was all it took to get pushed back to sixth place. The racing is so close.
At the end of the night we were glad the day was finally over as we packed and left. I proved to myself that training and visualizing as much as I did was definitely worth the effort. I had improved my best lap from the last time by over a second and felt much more in control. I didn't suffer any bruising, by way of relocating the ballast, and had arrived at the next level in my driving. This while the kart was not set up correctly.
It was encouraging, and I scored some valuable points. By 2:30 am Sunday morning I was finally in bed, having had a total of three hours of sleep since 6:30 Friday morning. Even though we suffered one setback after another (it had to be one of the worst days of my life), we managed to pull through all right. It only makes me more determined to succeed, and I will not let anything stand between me and victory.