Topic: The B. F. E. GP from the perspective of Flat Face Racing
This was our first Lemons so I did a little/big write up of our experiences:
Susan and I arrived at the track a bit around 4:00 to find a few other teams already on site. We found our covered parking spot and, after a few attempts, managed to place our trailer where we wanted it. Unloading was more of a chore than we expected as we didn’t realize the area wasn’t exactly level. One of the big harness bolts installed in the floor pan snagged on the wood of the trailer door and left a notch despite using 2x4s under Scrappy’s front wheels. We live and learn.
After unhooking and roughly leveling the trailer we spent time unloading and setting up our big ole table and temporary shelving. The covered parking spot was clean and had plenty of space for our tires, bins, and whatnot. The power box was unlocked so we plugged in the trailer to power the fridge, lights, and the radio chargers.
The sole non-family member of our team, Brad, arrived at 5:30 to take to the track and get used to piloting Scrappy. This was Brad’s first foray with Scrappy and the two seemed to hit things off in a good way. It was during Brad’s second stint that I realized I’d left two cases of adult beverages in Scrappy’s trunk. After calmly asking Brad to stop in the hot pit lane I met him with our rolly cart to thankfully find no broken glass when the trunk was popped. We shared a laugh and Brad finished his stint.
In the evening we met several teams walking up and down the covering parking area. Two out of state teams dropped by: CEL Racing/Meowgical from Tulsa and property devaluation racing from Texas. Nice folks all around. Many conversations were had and it wasn’t until after midnight that we finally closed up our trailer for the night.
This and that happened before we drank our morning coffee and officially started the day. After many hours of testing I was confident that a quick swap of the brakes and wheels would have Scrappy ready for tech. Unfortunately I found the rear brake pads were completely gone and had left some neat grooves in the rotors. Also one of the rear caliper pins was rusted solid and with its hex head mostly rounded off. Awesome! Luckily we had packed many spare parts including all the brake components that attach to the wheel hubs. It took some time but eventually the brakes and wheels were in order.
With tech sheet in hand and bribes in Scrappy’s trunk we queued up for tech and BS inspections. Even being 20 minutes early the line of un-tech’d cars was already long. While we waited we talked with the owner of Team Lemo’ktoberfest’s Saturn about his cage and previous Lemon’s woes. He took his own car out of a 2018 race when the engine started knocking on heaven’s gate. Now he was back with new bits and pieces to hopefully see the green and checkered flags (spoiler – he did!).
We failed tech due to issues with our cage foam but were luckily classed in A with zero penalty laps. We scurried back to remedy the foamy-situation and soon we were compliant. Finally we checked in for realzies and picked up our transmitter. Holy smokes we made it!
Alvin (our brother in-law and fourth member of the team) broke in the race pads while we hung out with our pups. Oh yeah, we brought our three little dogs to the event.
A fawn Pug named Mel, a tiny black Pug named Bella, and an itty-bitty Chihuahua named Pebbles accompanied us. All were relatively content throughout the whole ordeal with the exception of being a bit freaked out by the excessive engine reving a few of the teams apparently needed to do. Seriously, it sounded the same the twentieth time you rev’d to redline with your horribly loud catless exhaust as it did the first time you rev’d to redline with your horribly loud catless exhaust, enough already.
It was in the late afternoon that the rain and wind rolled in. We battened down Scrappy with a tarp and waited out the storm which lasted around an hour.
Susan noticed a gaggle of cyclists on the hot pit lane so we leapt on our own bikes to head out onto the track. We’d purchased Goodwill bikes in the previous weeks just for this occasion. Riding around HPR was a really chill experience. Several folks rode bikes and a mess of others walked around. Susan and I rode around most of the track but skipped the second hilly section to preserve our legs in order to be able to walk for the remainder of the weekend. The sun was setting around the time we got back to the paddock.
For some reason several of the teams were furiously working on their cars. Weird.
We awoke early to find the pit area relatively quiet. After our coffee rituals we attended the drivers meeting. We sat on the floor right up front to soak up the info which was delivered in a relatively succinct manner. Then it was “drivers to their cars” and whatnot.
The driving portion of the day went well for the four of us on team Flat Face Racing. Scrappy is easy to drive and can corner with the best cars out there. We received a sole black flag for passing under yellow. Considering the number of cars breaking down and the seemingly random nature of some of the flag-waving I think we were lucky to only get one such violation.
Susan was out finishing up the day’s driving when the sky got dark and the lightning came down. A big strike right before 6:00 ended the racing portion of the day’s proceedings with our team somehow situated in sixth place overall.
We had just enough time to cover Scrappy with a tarp and take shelter in the trailer when the rain and wind arrived. Undeterred, teams around us worked through the gale, pulling busted engines and tinkering this way and that.
This time the rain came on heavier with some small hail mixed in. Again it the weather blew threw in an hour or so leaving massive puddles here and there.
We contented ourselves chatting about the day and watching the other teams scramble about. Fortunately for us, Alvin was on our team and remembered to check the oil and tires. In true Miata-fashion Scrappy was only down a bit less than a quart of oil and the 200TW tires only needed to be rotated crossways to be ready for the next day. This after eight hours of track time. Zeus bless stock Miatas.
With the skies clear the pit potluck got into gear. I’d started chicken slow cooking earlier in the day and soon finished whipping up my signature inoffensive chili. I worried I was too late to the party but by the end of the evening the crock pot was scraped down to chili-dregs and most of our (store-bought) brownies were gone.
We’d heard good things about the Lemons HPR potlucks and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. There was a wide variety of foods to choose from and we were stuffed before we had walked the whole thing. We met a lot of great folks and shared many a laugh as we shared our food.
After purchasing excess fuel from another team we closed up the trailer for another night of sleep.
We were up before our 6:30 alarm to again find a quiet paddock. The racing was to resume at 9:00 and we were ready in plenty of time. I have to admit I felt a bit special pulling into the top-ten line.
Racing was quite enjoyable on day two. Passing seemed easier and the cars seemed more spread about. There was one self-reporting incident but otherwise the day went as smooth as silk. We finished eighth overall and seventh in class A after completing 318 laps. As our goal for this event was simply to see both the green and checkered flags with zero breakdowns in between we were ecstatic with the results.
We all attended the awards ceremony to watch Alvin and his other team, Team Other Options, receive their trophy for first place in class B (Alvin drove for both this team and ours). The other awards seemed to go to deserving teams.
Susan and I were in no rush to pack up and thus took our sweet time. When we finally made our exodus there were only a few teams still on site. We genuinely can hardly wait until the next event at HPR!
Miatas are fun in the twisties but I think we would have been happy with a little BMW-power in the straights. The other drivers were certainly a mixed-bag in experience-level but we saw zero contact incidents during the weekend. More point-bys would have been nice but the lack thereof led to us having to figure out how to make safe passes which was a good thing. In the end I was turning laps only a few seconds off my personal best while passing traffic.
Balkan Express – spray-painting their livery immediately upon unloading their car from their trailer. We were shocked with how well it turned out.
Dirty Racers – they dealt with bad gas, brakes not working, pedal box problems, and other assorted issues and still managed 157 laps.
Petrosexual Racing – one of their drivers went so far off of turn four (the right at the end of the long straight) that he re-entered the track down by turn six. We have footage of him making his triumphant return to the course.
Crazily we happened to reserve a covered parking spot between teams with peeps we know from our RallyCross lives – Will (The Gunbarrel Cobras) and Diego (Balken Express). I don’t think we could have planned this if we tried. Three of the Dirty Racers (Brian, Jonathon, and Ryan) are also Rallycrossers. We’d also met the drivers from Savage Orchid Racing, Sew So Fast, and Rainbow Unicorns at open lapping days. Pretty cool.
That was super-duper fun and we can’t wait until next time! Also, we brought way too much food. Oh so much food.