I headed the 2.5 hrs from work to Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL on Friday. We had 30mph gusts from the West combined with a 39 degree temp which made driving difficult! The main requirement was to get my safety gear checked out and simply do a meet-n-greet with the team I'd be racing with. I quickly found the car - a white Miata; nicknamed 'Jenny' (ala 8675309) - and some of the team. There were apparently no plans to practice any driver changes or discuss strategy. I was able to sit in the car and BS while freezing my arse off. I did a lot of coaching to one of the newbs on the team; Dan. Both explaining racing, the track, and trying to convince him not to overcomplicate things.
The driver's meeting was 8pm the next day with racing from 9-4pm. The owner suggested we meet at 7am, which sounded crazily early and when I arrived at 7:15am nothing had been done. Besides the owner and myself, there were 2 other drivers - neither had driven in a Chumpcar event or any other Enduro race of anykind. Some go-kart experience was all they had; which isn't totally uncommon for Chump or Lemons actually. And I was also the only one that had ever driven at Autobahn before. I figured our best chance was finishing 10-15th if all went well.
Our pitstall was mostly setup - we carried in a few remaining items and the owner was climbing in for Stint #1. The 4 of us would be sharing the 7hr event with 1:45 stints each. A last-minute change moved me to 4th as I would be the closer with all the 'crazies' at the end. Sounded just find to me.
Crazily enough, when we went to start the car in pit lane the car broke! No joke. So thus started a weekend of push-starts! We got it push-started and the random green flag generously put us in 7th out of the 43 car field. About that time I realized that although we discussed the driver order, we never practiced or even talked about any time of pitstop setup, fueling, car setup, etc. We did have a radio in the car however to hopefully call out some positions, greens/yellows and pit stops.
I made a quick walk up and down the pits to meet a few of the other teams. Some cars I knew, some friends had new cars or teams and a few I'd talked to online and wanted to officially meet. With that out of the way, I took over radio duties in the pits. There were 2 early yellow's in T2 - the usual issue with 2 cars trying to occupy the same spot on track together!
The owner was picking up the track and improving his times. Under the 2:00 mark and settling around the 1:55 area. The front runners were in the mid-high 1:40's, so while not a frontrunner (and not expecting it) it wasn't too bad. The car was radio'd in as 'great'.
Driver #2 would be Dan, whom I had been further coaching. I volunteered to fuel; with Mark manning the fire bottle. All of which we worked out about 5min before the pitstop sadly. The stop didn't go too bad really. Chump requires a minimum 5:00 stop if you fuel the car and we weren't too far over that. Since the car was deemed 'great' by the owner, there were no changes. I suggested checking tire pressures but nobody thought it was needed.
Stint #2 was Dan, and he took some time to get used to the car and track. He took the car in 15th and dropped some spots on track with a slower pace. After a lot of 2:20 laps, he dropped down to 2:06 and settled around 2:10. I'm happy to report NO offs, spins, penalties or black flags! I call it a success. He brought the car in around 23rd
After manning the fire bottle on the pitstop to put Mark in the car for stint #3. He took the car in 24th and seemed to pick up the track quickly. We were 5 laps out of 14th and 10 laps off the lead. Again, thinking a top 15 finish was our best bet personally. Mark dropped a 2:03 lap about 30min in, climbing to 22nd, then spun shortly after. He had to wait for a tow and we lost quite a bit of time. At lap 100, we were sitting in 25th. My stint was coming up and I would take the car to the checker. I suggested we check tire pressures, but again, nobody seemed to care. We'll see how much I could improve on our current position of 26th...