Sunday, July 8, 2007

Dirt, methenal, and fireworks!

Location, Lynden, WA

After our late night on Friday, I slept in until 8:30 or so. Our goal for today is to see the car races in Burlington, WA tonight. More on that later. We had breakfast, Clyda read, I worked on the blog, and around noon, we drove over to Mark and Candi’s for lunch. I posted the Blog and retrieved emails until 2 PM when we left for Burlington. The ladies shopped at the outlet mall while Mark and I visited Camping World. I had a $5 gift certificate which was about to expire and a few things on my list. I purchased an external in line water filter which had been on my list for some time. Also a few other minor items.

After we checked out of Camping World we walked next door to look at Class C motor homes. Mark is interested in one possibly in the future so we looked at a few. I pointed out some good and not so good features to him. They had just taken in a used Jamboree which appeared to be in excellent condition but was so new to the lot that no one had the keys. About then the ladies called so we headed back to the outlet mall to pick them up.

We planned to eat an early dinner before going to the race track so went to a place called Double Barrel BBQ. It is a hole in the wall place but had really good BBQ. Excellent choice.

Off to the race track. The reason we are going is because our niece Dawn’s boyfriend Matt drives a Sprint car in the Sportsman class as a rookie. Last year he drove a Hornet class which is old small cars with only about 100 horse power. It is more like the demolition derby than a race. Matt was scheduled to drive in 2 races tonight. This was also the mid-season championships with a fireworks show to follow and a huge crowd was expected. We actually got to the park about an hour early but the lines of cars stretched forever. They were still coming in about halfway through the races.

A quarter mile clay track with Sprint cars is fun to watch. Sprint cars have the funny big wing on top to keep down pressure on the car so it stays on the ground. This track is well set up with all of the cars in the infield, good track crew with plenty of push vehicles to start cars plus an ambulance and fire crew.

The track before the race is wet sticky clay and various vehicles are used to pack and dry it prior to the race. Race cars are then run for a short time for the same purpose. Hot laps are taken with several cars spaced evenly about the track and they run at near optimum speed for 5 laps. As the track dries, conditions change so the drivers need to adjust their driving tactics.

It was a fun night of racing with several crashes and a couple of cars turned upside down. Of course, any problems stop the race either under a caution flag or a red (stop) flag. Cars are then restarted, lined up in their post flag position and the race continues.

Matt has done very well so far this year and is standing 5th in points for his class. His disadvantage is a lack of a sponsor. It cost big bucks to stay in the race week after week. The cars run on methanol fuel. A Sportsman class car uses a standard car engine which runs on methanol instead of gas, is supped up to run at 7-8,000 RPM, and puts out up to 500 horse power at speeds up to 120 mph. These are not toys by any means.

After the spectacular fireworks show, we went to the pit to talk to Matt, his father, and Dawn, (his pit crew) for a few minutes and look at the car. The car has 2 gauges, temperature and oil pressure. The driver has little time to look at anything inside the cockpit.

Dawn and Matt with his #30 Sportsman Sprint car

Getting out of the parking lot was easier than we expected but it was still 1 AM when we got back to the RV.