St. Louis Gateway, 2002
(OR BETTER KNOWN AS....)
"IT WAS THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER"
Greetings from the Terry Garage! We've just gotten back from Gateway in St. Louis and are already here and at it.
The last time we touched base we were just getting back from Hallett and as is the "Terry Way" - "Man, have things changed!"
The Red Car was so impressive at Hallett with its 1st and 3rd finishes, that Mike Stephens, the track owner, immediately fell in love with the car. Mike decided to contract us to build a car for him just like the Red Jag.
As with all serious competitors, our mind's wheels are always turning. There had already been a lot of discussion that in order to hang with the factory teams at the run offs we would eventually need to get a tube frame car. It would be an added advantage in a sport where even the smallest change can give your team the winning edge. The question was, "How do we pull it off financially?" The tube frame advantage comes with a hefty price tag!
With the wheels turning, Trent came up with a plan. Why not sell the Red Car to Mike Stephens, get our black XKE Jag that we race HSR, SCCA legal and race it the rest of this season, and use the money from the sell of the red car to finance the tube frame car for next year? Sound confusing? Does the fact that we only had 20 days time to do this in sound any more confusing? How about crazy? Regardless, this was our plan and we vowed to get it accomplished.
Unfortunately this meant we had to skip the race at Elkheart Lake. Time just didn't allow for it. To accomplish our goal we would have to:
WHEW! Can I take a breath now? I know we didn't get to for 20 days! We ate a lot of fast food, lost a lot of sleep and worried a lot! Mike was coming up to Gateway to test drive the Red Car. A lot of our future plans were tied up in this sell. We have full confidence in our cars and in the power of our engines but had we missed anything? With all the things that had to be done and in the short amount of time, could we have let even the smallest detail slip by us? We checked and rechecked. We thought about the cars at our regular jobs, we re-rechecked when we were in the garage, we were even dreaming about the darn cars at night! Finally we felt we were ready for Gateway.
We pulled into Gateway with a lot of anticipation, a lot of confidence and into a 115 degree heat index. We would spend our race weekend at the hottest spot in the nation.
Mike drove the Red Car in Friday's practice sessions. He was very impressed with the car's horsepower and our unique suspension designs. Mike's words and we quote, were "This car is a wolf in sheep's clothing!" It was a sell! Part one of our plan was complete.
However by no means would part two of the plan be a piece of cake. We knew with the added weight and additional SCCA regulations we would have a pretty steep learning curve with the black car. Mix into that the worry if the black car would even pass the SCCA Tech- you could say our nerves were a little frayed. Not to mention the heat- we did tell you it was hot didn't we?
The car passed Tech and we got some new Hoosier bias ply tires for Saturday's Regional qualifying race. We had to take it easy in the race to break in our new transmission but still managed to qualify 2nd. In the Regional race we managed to pull out a 2nd also but just didn't have a good solid performance. We were having fuel pressure problems and we just weren't getting the performance from the bias ply tires we had hoped for.
With the thermometer still reading 99 degrees we stayed at the track until almost 9pm looking for the fuel problem. After going through all the hard technical solutions it turned out to be something as simple as a collapsed line in the fuel cell. The intense heat of the weekend had taken its toll on our fuel line. It was easy enough to fix, after hours of looking. That night we also made the decision to switch to Goodyear Radials. We would have stiff competition in Sunday's National race. Dick Salem and Jim Blakewell were both entries. The GT2 Mid Div championship has basically been won by one or the other of these guys for the last 10 years. These were two tube frame cars with Goodyear Radials that have been among the top finishers at the recent Runoffs. We would have a full plate for Sunday. For the moment all we wanted was a hot meal and a cool room. We walked right into a restaurant whose air conditioning had broken. We would settle for a cool room.
We qualified 3rd but soon realized to run the radials we would have to make some suspension adjustments. We changed our toe and camber settings and decided to go with different tire pressures. We worked right up until it was time to race.
In the National race Trent and Dick Salem, in his 911 Porsche, battled for 2nd place. For those of you have followed our season, you'll recall the same pair had battled at Hallett, with Salem the victor. This battle would be ours. Trent finally overtook the Porsche but the intense racing had let Blakewell stretch out his lead. We would run out of laps but would bring in a solid 2nd.
As a team we knew we still had some improvements to make on the Black Car but all and all the plan had been a success. The Terry Racing Family had hung in there and you know you gotta love it when a plan comes together!
On the way home from Gateway the realization that we had sold the Red Car started to sink in. Really we just hadn't had time to process it. The Red Car has been in the Terry Racing Family for over 20 years and like it or not, you kind of get sentimental about these machines. Not to mention that we had done a lot of research and development, a lot of new innovations and all the long hours and hard work we had poured into the car. At least we have the assurance that someone like Mike Stephens will own it. Here's a guy who can really appreciate the Red 1962 XKE Jag!
Well, we'll be off to Hallett in a couple of weeks to deliver the Red Car and run in the "Ark Valley Summer Heat Sprints". We sure hope the name of the event isn't going to be any indication of the temperatures. Mid August in Oklahoma-surely not!
In the meantime we have a lot of hard work ahead of us- but like Trent is always reminding us-"IF RACING WAS EASY EVERYBODY WOULD DO IT". Or is that "You have to be crazy to....". Oh well, by the way, if you want to get a hold of us, we'll be in the garage.