Well, I didn’t make it to Daytona this year. Time and money both conspired against being able to run with The Greatest Endurance Racing Team in the World and their turbo Saabs on the 33 degree banking for 14 hours.
Instead, I ran with a wonderful local team “Spork Sports” run by Redi Imports. This was super convenient since the track is about an hour away and I could run on a Saturday without missing any work.
The team brought two mostly stock DA Integras – one with VTEC, one without. I was in the car without, which also had dramatically inferior tires (Kumho XS vs. Direzza ZIIs). After Friday’s race, the white car with VTEC was undergoing a late Friday evening/early Saturady morning motor swap. The joys of crapcan racing.
I always feel a little nerves before a race. I have to tell myself it’s not nervousness or anxiety – it’s excitement. That little mental trick seems to help with the agitation and I’ve found it much easier to sleep the night before a race.
I was up first in the morning. After a rather truncated driver’s meeting, we lined up, got me in, and off we went. The field was the usual mix of totally unprepared morons, guys in nice cars who can’t drive for shit, blatantly cheating teams, and the front runners who have their shit together. It was also composed of plenty of teams like the one I was running with – well prepared and competent on track. If those types of teams don’t break, they usually have a chance of finishing in the top 10.
When the green flag dropped, I was already two laps down due to a penalty the car received for god know’s what – supposedly the bone stock 140 hp 1990 Integra was over points for being too competitive. No matter, in a field of 94 cars I drove like a man possessed.
They talk about the zone and I’d never really experienced it on a racetrack before, because in my 4 prior races I was mostly worried about surviving and not vomiting on myself. This time I was comfortable in the car, comfortable in the track, and taking no prisoners. I had full confidence to do what needed to be done.
This is a great feeling. It is a feeling of unconscious competence – the zen zone you strive to be in. I just picked cars off one after the other. I wasn’t experience sheer rage or aggression, more an unrelenting desire to put the car in front. At the end of my two hour stint, by the time the car ran out of fuel I had moved up to 19th and lapped our other car – in fact, I was about to lap it a second time but the car was absolutely out of fuel as I coasted into the pits.
This was a “level up” moment for me. I truly felt like a predator on the field and I was supremely confident. I can honestly say in my 5th race I am now a competent driver. Am I the fastest out there? Not by far. But I have enough pace to hustle the car around and enough confidence to pass when others hesitate, and to pressure drivers in front of me into mistakes, even if they have faster cars.
In terms of the actual action, once all the bed wetters calmed the fuck down the race went pretty smooth.
Right after the green some dipshit nosed his car into the wall coming out of the off camber turn 9.
At about 1 hour an annoying fucking girl went off the outer loop straight into the wall. I’m not normally glad about other people crashing, but this cunt had it coming. She was sharing our radio channel and just never shut the fuck up the entire first half of race, chatting away with her pit like she was at Starbucks with her girlfriends. At one point she was literally admiring how beautiful the sky was. Don’t you think she should have been paying attention to the track? Not surprised she stuffed it.
Once I heard her say “I’m in the wall” and then go silent, I could finally concentrate and my lap times dropped down from mid 2:30s to high 2:20s with a best of 2:28, which ain’t bad for a DA Integra that might have made 140 hp 25 years ago and was on used, mediocre tires.
The only other incident I can recall during my stint was some moron going straight into the wall in the climbing esses but they hauled his ass off the track pretty quickly.
I can’t wait for the next race.