My kids had a box cart race. I had a NASA endurance race on the same day over 250 miles away. My wife said, "You'll have to choose." I said, "I can do both… maybe."
What I was attempting wasn't quite as sexy as Tony Stewart running the Indy 500 in the morning and then taking a chopper to compete in NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. However, it was still going to be a challenge as I don't have access to a multi-million dollar chopper.
The plan was to help the kids run their box cart race in Fresno, California, in the morning then have my brother drive like a madman all the way to Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, California, to deliver me there before the start of the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) Western Endurance Racing Championship (WERC) event that evening. The maps and the math said it was possible, but it would be close.
First order of business that day was the kids. The Fresno Box Cart Race is an annual tradition in which dads spend weeks in the garage trying not to cut their fingers off using a table saw to create the fastest gravity-powered Box Cart.
Then moms watch in horror as their children drive these homebuilt cars down the steep dirt hill.
The age groups for the competitors is from 4 to 12 years old. Some 4 years olds take one look at the hill and decide it would be better to burst into tears and scream than to face the downhill drop.
Some cars are faster than others (as some dads race actual cars and know how to build box carts with speed in mind).
Some kids find glory at the finish line with the fastest time in their age group.
Some kids crash and burn (well, that's an exaggeration, nobody burns since there is no gas in these cars).
Our team has a few cars and we let a number of kids the opportunity to get to run down the hill.
At the end of the day, we brought home a first place and three second place trophies. One race down, two to go.
The second race of the day was actually just a race against time. My brother owns Bay Ex delivery service in the San Francisco Bay Area. I told him I wanted him to make a special delivery with a very important package (that package being my ass). I told him I'd pay the tickets; just get me there on time.
Armed with GPS and a radar detector we made quick time through our 250 mile journey. We arrived at Thunderhill with a few minutes to spare (second race complete and no tickets –a win!). Keith Kramer and the Krider Racing pit crew were already at the track and had the I/O Port Racing Supplies Nissan Sentra on the grid.
My brother helped me get situated in the car and then the rain began to fall on the windshield. The team decided at the last minute to change from our super sticky Hoosier slicks to a set or full tread rain tires.
This weather/tire gamble turned out to be the wrong choice because as soon as the green flag dropped the rain stopped dropping.
Our tire choice was beginning to give me grief and I allowed the entire E3 class to take turns passing me. I wasn't happy.
After my stint was done I brought the car in for ten gallons of fuel and to do a driver swap with Keith. Our pit crew, AJ Gracy, Nick Brown, Simeon Gracy and Anna Kaufman, were lightening fast and got us out quick enough to move up to second place. Keith Kramer faired better than I could on the rain tires in the dry, but the tires still let a few of our competitors get by him, pushing us to fourth place when the checkered fell.
Even with a fourth-place finish at Thunderhill, that was all we needed to move up in the points to take the current lead in the WERC 2010 E3 Class Championship. With three races under our belts in one day, trophies accumulated, championship points earned (and no speeding tickets) plus a race car that wasn't upside-down, we called the day a victory and let the Dos Equis beer flow.
We have four more races to go to finish the WERC series, hopefully the schedule is a bit kinder to us.
Photos by Rachel Kuhtz, Anna Kaufman and Head-On Photos.