Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Long Weekend.

July 4th is a great day, not just for the historical significance, but because it's the day where outdoor activities, food, drinks, and explosives, all cross paths. It's amazing what a fun combination those can be.

I rode out towards Poulsbo with my best friend, Jeff, and my best friend's brother, Dave. We stopped at an Indian Fireworks booth, and picked up $100 worth of fireworks. 5 packs of sparklers, 2 packs of roman candles, and a mortar with 10 shells. Once those were secured, we stopped by the casino, and played craps. I brought in $40 and left with $55, Jeff came in with $200 and left with $365. The gambling gods were kind to us.

Back at Jeff's place, we played some GTA IV, and killed some time before the girls showed up. The girls promptly decided to try and make things awkward by going and picking up my younger sister. Not going to spoil my fun. I promptly made myself a drink, comprised of 2 oz Malibu Rum, 2 ounces Grenadine, 2 ounces Blue Curacao, filled with club soda. I stirred it, flamed an orange peel, an threw an orange twist in as garnish. Tasted like grape Kool-aid. The orange I bought from Safeway was too dry, so the citrus oil didn't come through like I wanted.

Drink in hand, we marched down to the beach, and proceeded to lob fireworks into the sky. We burned through pretty much our whole stock, save three mortar shells we were going to fire when the girls got back. There were a lot of people there, and therefore a lot of fireworks, but I still kind of miss the massive displays the army would put on for posts. Then again, it certainly beat the pants off the show put on when I was at Fort Benning for the 4th in 2006.

The girls showed up, and decided they wanted to sit in the hot tub rather than set off the fireworks immediately. Killjoys.

Eventually we coerced them down to the beach, and set off the remaining mortar shells, plus a few special bursts. Remember those sparklers we bought? It's amazing what you can do with those.

We capped of the night with a game of beer pong, and went home. I got to sleep at 0330...

And was promptly woken up at 0630 by my dad, with whom I was going to the Heritage Car Races at the lovely Pacific Raceways. Fun, but I would have loved to have slept some more. We picked up a couple of my Dad's friends before we left town, and I have been sworn to secrecy as to their identities. They both have jobs with the city that require them to champion environmentalism, but they were closet car fanatics, and very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. We'll call them #1 and #2.

The ride to the raceway was dominated by two discussions. One was about how the dismal grey sky was just the marine layer, and surely would burn off to reveal a clear sunny day by noon at the latest. The other, and far more interesting, was about cars, ranging from the time #1's first car stopped at a red light, only to watch one of the wheels continue on the route, the time I saw an Enzo parked outside the Staples in Bellvue, to the 959 that Bill Gates got so many speeding tickets in that his license got pulled.

Once we got to Pacific Raceways, we enthusiastically rushed around staring at the cars parked in the club section. Dad lamented selling his 914 as he stared at an infantry blue 2.0 for sale for a little over $10K. #1 kept staring at an old 6 cylinder Jag, even though he knew the reputation for older British cars to be beautiful looking and beautiful sounding pieces of shit. #2 simply mused about what could have been had he not given up racing. I wondered who let all the 300Zs park there. Some of the notable cars in that section included a Lamborghini Diablo, a De Tomaso Pantera, and a Porsche 550 Spyder. But if I had to take a car from that lot, I'd probably go with the Ferrari 575M, most comfortable ride out there, but it'll still turn heads.

We stepped into the vending area, to take a look at what they had to offer. I immediately made a beeline for a specific tent, leaving the old guys in the dust, when they caught up, they saw why. Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Porsche, they had a tent set up. The first car in the display was a rare 917. Not a replica, this was the actual #20 gulf car. While not as important historically as the "Pink Pig" or 'Psychedelic Porsche" that took 1st and 2nd at the 1970 Le Mans, respectively. Or the 917/30 Sunoco that killed the Can-Am series and remains among the most powerful normal fuel race cars in existence. This one was famous in it's own right, being the car that was supposedly driven by Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans.

Alongside the 917 were a couple of early 911s, a 356A, a 550 Spyder, and the newest Porsche Supercar, the Carrera GT. Between the six cars in that tent, there was probably close to five million dollars worth of machinery. But that wasn't all. "Isn't that Al Unser?!", #1 exclaims. Wow. The man with the most Indy 500 wins in history is here. I'm scared. We meekly moved up to him, and presented our programs to be signed, he happily complied. He seems like a nice guy, honest too. "If I had one of these," He told my Dad, gesturing to the Carrera GT he was sitting next to, "I'd be in jail all the time."

We wandered around the paddocks and looked at some of the cars that would participate in the races. We saw some amazing cars, a Ferrari 512, a Porsche 908 and a 910, a bunch of 911s, a 935/78, a few Alfas, and a Ford Escort. Another interesting car that caught our attention was an old fashioned Bentley Speed Six. This car was one step away from being a stage coach. As we examined it, #1 jokingly suggested that it might be coal powered, I raised him one by suggesting that the massive cowling was there to provide room for the midget who shovels the coal in.

Right before lunch, the PA announced a special Porsche only race in honor of Porsche's 60th anniversary. My Dad and I scanned the list of cars in the racing program, and started to talk about which car we thought would win. We both agreed that the 935/78 would most likely take it away, but the 910 might make a fight of it. Then we were treated to a gift that made the whole day worthwhile. As the cars rumbled around in their seeded positions on their pace lap, they came around the corner and came into view. The 935/78 was in first, as expected, the 910 was in 3rd. In between the two rode the 917K that had been sitting in the display tent. That wasn't on the program. Just majestic. And as the race went on, the cars spaced out, and you could really get a feel for the different sounds of the different cars, pure auditory overload. It was great. The 935/78 did win, but I loved watching that 917.

I ate a light lunch of BBQ pork and rice, and drank a lemonade. We moved from the outfield to the infield to watch the races get going. We started out watching the first few uneventful races from just downrange from the downward hill, with a good view of the switchback turn.

We moved to get a great view of the backstretch to watch the Historic Small Bores, and Large Bores. The small bore race was interesting. For the first three laps it was dominated by a Lotus Seven, followed by several Porsche 356s. The Lotus Seven inexplicably had an inside out umbrella stuck to the back of the chassis, it probably should have been black flagged, but it was leading. It lost the umbrella on the 4th lap. It also lost the lead. Porsche 356s took 1st through 3rd, and the Seven came in 4th.

The Historic Large bores was really a two car race. Two late 60's Corvettes, one the A model, one the B model. The Blue and White B Model built up a dominating lead. The American Flag adorned A model kept within a reasonable distance. When they hit the back of the pack and began to lap cars, the A model used the traffic well to close the gap, and nearly make a pass on the last lap right in front of us. The B model clearly had the better driver, and fended off the takeover attempt for the win.

We moved up the the Grandstand to watch the Medium bores. The light rain that had persisted for the last hour let up, and the track began to dry. Up front there was a BMW M3, a White Porsche 911, a blue 911, and a red 1969 Ford Escort. Behind them was a bunch of tiny 2 door BMWs and Alfa Romeros that I can only describe as a swarm, and one very loud, very green 911. What made this race interesting was the changing conditions of the track. The White 911 had opted to go with racing slicks, assuming the track would dry quickly. The Escort and the M3 had opted for Rain Tires, assuming the rain would return. The rain didn't return, but the track dried slowly. The M3 built up a sizable lead, and the Escort forced its way up from 4th to 2nd. The 911 fell back all the way to 5th. However, the track dried. After lap three, the track had dried enough that the 911 could get its wheels on the ground, and put its power to use. As it gained ground, the underpowered Escort fell back in the standings, finishing 4th. On the last lap, the 911 had finally clawed it's way back into second place, and as soon as it hit the final straight away, the driver floored it. Eating up the course, and rapidly closing the gap on the M3. In a photo finish, the M3 staved off the 911's last charge. Great race.

As we moved back to the back stretch to watch the group 7 race, the rain started up again. Group 7 was the showstoppers group. F1, F2, FV, F5000, and some Can-Ams. Unfortunately, a lot of the cars scratched due to the rain. Including the 935/78, the Ferrari 512, and the McRae GM1. The 935 and the GM1 were the real losses, as they were expected to challenge for first. Instead, a Tyrell F1 car laid waste to the field, lapping all but two of the competitors. The real race was for 2nd place, where a Porsche 910 duked it out with two F5000 cars, who should have wiped the floor with it. But due to the weather conditions, the nimble 910 held on for 2nd place.

Once that race concluded, the skies really opened up, leaving rivers of water flowing across the asphalt, and thoroughly soaking us as we made our way back to the car.

I slept the whole way back, with a smile on my face.

1 comment:

L.C.T. said...

Ah boys and cars. I'm not sure I'll ever quite understand it. All I know is that I love camaros and trans ams, that's about the extent of my car adoration.