VR-JPMD #9: Catching up
Valvoline Runoffs '97
Copyright (c) 1997 John P. M. Dillon
Racing jewelry is always popular at the Runoffs, and this year is no exception. This year, in addition to the usual flags and race cars, one woman sported a combination wrench pair of earrings. (No, they weren't SnapOns!)
Gary Perry, a Scrutineer from West Texas Region, said "The Runoffs may be in Ohio, but it's not a Mid-Ohio deal but an SCCA deal. It's a small country and a completely American event. There are no state boundaries." He added "I could fish, backpack, or sit on my butt, but I'd rather be here."
As mentioned earlier, the macarena left the Scoring building, but it reappeared at the Tracer party. Also at the party, Travis Duder snapped plenty of pictures with a new digital camera. He described one subject, raffle assistant Sonja, like this: "Most of my pictures came out with good resolution, but her's came out 'extra fine!'" The hot tub had it's usual assortment of occupants, as well Bob "the Helmet", who wore his trademark even in the water.
Kevin Carpenter has 20 years with Tracer. "The best part is the family type of unity with the team. The worst part are the last minute changes. Give Chuck too much time and he'll want to change something. This has been the best experience in the world, I wouldn't change anything."
A Midget rolled on Tuesday in Turn 3, ended up on the tires. In a similar location, Brian Loehner hit the wall in his F500 and broke his leg. The stewards are reported to be knee-deep in paperwork. Including a protest in GP for an illegal head. There are several Chief Steward's actions for passes under yellow, and various protests of these actions. As you probably know, Operating and Chief Stewards can immediately act on passes under yellow, and the drivers can go straight to the Courts of Appeal.
Last night a surprise party was held for Patc Henry and Tex Arnold (from Hallett) in honor of their impending betrothal. The couple will live in Parker Colorado, not far from the Slick pad, after they are married.
Several GT1 cars have suddenly been found illegal, despite running in the same configuration all season, because the fuel cell area is not covered. Competitors are arguing that the driver compartment is isolated by bulkhead and plexiglass between driver and back section.
Jim McCashin, Richard James, Ryan Price, Greg Rubinstein, Ann McHugh, and lots and lots of others have all arrived. Elvis has left the building, so we went up to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame yesterday, returning via the country roads in Amish country. When visiting Mid- Ohio, be sure to give yourself a day trip to check out the area. The Hall of Fame is open till 9:00 PM on Wednesdays; you may need the extra time!
The drivers are trying all sorts of things to keep the gravel from sticking to their tires before retiring to the paddock. They're covering them with plastic, wrapping them in trash bags, and even swapping them with street tires.
Several GT competitors have exhaust placement problems and have to lower the exit point of their pipes out the side.
The best stories come from cruising the paddock late at night. When you see lights glaring and crews working, you know there's info their to be researched. For example: Greg Feller, HP #46, had his engine out after discovering a broken crankshaft pully. "The car didn't run real well all week, and we thought it was a broken crankshaft. We didn't have a spare engine, but a friend in Columbus offered to loan us another. Then we found the pully problem, so we'll get to qualify tomorrow."
Camping, other than in motorhomes, is not allowed at the Runoffs; last night the cops hauled some guy out of the track for sleeping in his trailer and forced him to get a hotel room.
Howard "Duck" Allen is attending his first Runoffs, but "I've wanted to do it for 20 years." He attended (in non-competition mode) the last Atlanta gig, and commented on how wonderful the greetings were here at Mid-Ohio. "The Richland County party on Monday night was just outstanding, and everywhere you go are 'Welcome Race Fans' banners. You didn't see this in Atlanta." He also likes the paddock here: "The different paddock fingers at Atlanta were more isolated." Duck's crew includes Charlie Hexom, John Brewer, and "my lovely, adorable wife Mindy." They are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary next month. "Instead of going to Hawaii, which we really want to do, she said I could buy a new engine." Mike O'Callaghan is the crew chief for Todd Harris and Johnny Humphries.