Friday, April 28, 2017

What is the worst part about wrecking a race car?

"THE NO QUESTION, hands-down worst part about breaking a race car is the bit where you sit there, strapped into the thing, waiting to be towed back to your trailer."
You think about a lot of things, stuck there on the side of a racetrack.

Mostly, you think about how you are an idiot.

Conventional wisdom holds that sometimes, machines just break. This truth lives in an entirely separate reality from the bubble around your average racetrack, where everyone knows that broken race cars are always the driver's fault. It doesn't matter if the guy behind the wheel actually did anything wrong; everyone in the paddock will see that busted or crashed-up heap and choose the simplest answer:

You dorked it.

But that's the sport. Racing is a responsibility sponge; it does nothing so well as produce cause for blame. Like any sport, the pastime also lends itself to examined choices—smart ones, dumb ones, and the space between, like that time your driver sat outside the trailer until well after midnight, singing Paul Simon's Graceland LP start to finish with a crew guy and a bottle of rye, when each of those individuals had a 6:00 wake-up call the next morning, for an early qualifying session. (For the record, this is not a hypothetical situation; I was there. I was also there when the driver in question woke up for said session with a blinding headache, then proceeded to set fasttest lap of the weekend for the whole class. Which, in turn, prompted obvious questions: Was it the Simon? The inherently mind-clearing nature of pain? The tone-deaf murder of "You Can Call Me Al"?)

Naturally, there are trends. In race cars, as in life, most people don't hyperanalyze good choices. It's the train wrecks that take root. Even if a given mess wasn't your fault, you will wait for that tow truck feeling like God's own moron. Wondering where it all went wrong.

There are so many ways for it to go wrong.

Sometimes, of course, you do something stupid.
Link to the rest of the article


AllenS said...

Money. They are very expensive.

Methadras said...

As a former race car driver when I was much much younger, I can agree with Allen the costs will really add up. One of the reasons I got out of it.

ndspinelli said...

My son loved stock car and midget racing so I would take him to local tracks around Madison. Mechanics who are "injured" like to make cash "wrenching" in the pits. I did surveillance @ several tracks in Wisconsin: Jefferson, WI Dells and Angell Park in Sun Prairie and one or two others. The latter was a piece o' cake. The pits @ Angell Park are in the infield so I just sat in the stands, ate a couple dogs, had a few beers, and nailed the lying sack o' shit. Where the pits are separated I had to be creative and come up w/ a pretest as to why I was shooting footage. If you act like you know what you're doing in this world you can so just about anything. I learned that early in my profession and it was a key to success.

ndspinelli said...

Meth, Where did you race?

Dad Bones said...

I can almost relate. Twenty plus years ago a 16 yr old girl ran a red light and wrecked my '74 Olds 98 two door hardtop. I had it less than a month and had just overhauled the 4 barrel on the 455 engine. I put roof racks on it for my ladders and used it as an attention getting work car for my painting biz. I was behind another car going through that intersection so I assumed without looking that no one was coming. Even though it was her fault I still felt like somewhat of an idiot standing on that busy intersection while the cop wrote down my info.

Methadras said...

ndspinelli said...
Meth, Where did you race?

El Cajon speedway during the pony races. That racetrack has been long gone now. My dad is a master mechanic so I was able to utilize his shop as my home base until about the 4th time he looked at me and said that I needed to find another hobby.