The blog this week is going to be all about our little trip to Texas to USAC Nationals. I took a full week off from running and while I feel a little sloth like, I think my body was grateful for a full week off. We have switched to night running and every night last week we had to be on the road getting ready for the trip. One night we had an emergency trip to Holton to pick up a part, one night we took the car to the Thulin’s house to be loaded into their trailer, and then the next to get a tire.
Thursday we drove down in wind gusts of up to 40 mph and I was VERY thankful our car went in someone else’s trailer and we weren’t pulling one. Of course right after we left, we figured out a few things we had forgotten and prayed the vendors had when we got there. We stopped a few times to fill up with gas and to eat a Texas staple, Whataburger. I am hoping it was just a location issue as our food was not great and the service was horrible. We waited 20 minutes for a milk shake that seriously took them 2 minutes to make and there was not a line or people waiting. Who knows. We also stopped at a gas station that had tons of picture ops in Oklahoma. We got in late to the hotel and grabbed some microwave dinners and hit the hay. The rooms were super nice, kind of like little suites. We had a kitchen complete with microwave, full size fridge and freezer, and couch/living room area on top of a HUGE bathroom and bedroom.
Friday morning we had registration and engine sealing. We got to the track super early but our trailer was still locked and our car in it, so we just hung out till the Thulins got up and got stuff unlocked. I actually took a trip with one of the track moms to stock up on water and snacks. I had a feeling we would have some long days and I wanted some sources of protein for all of us. Plus, I wanted to get some fun stuff for the kids including some Halloween themed cupcakes and some super fun doughnuts. It was HOT and I was anticipating a long HOT day and then suddenly a storm blew up and we had high winds, rain, and a 30 degree temp drop. Uh, Texas, when I looked at your weather and you had hot and sunny all weekend. I had one sweatshirt and one pair of pants for me and I had nothing long sleeved for Andrew. Luckily I had packed several blankets and we wrapped up in them to stay warm.
Friday during the day was practice in the morning and heats in the afternoon. Each class got 2 minutes on the track and Andrew was to say the least a bit intimidated. This was the best in the in country and he knew it. As one person put it to us, normally they have a 300 car count or greater. There are usually all levels of kids from national champs to beginners like Andrew. This year, due to the virus, only the best of the best came. Again, our goal was just for him to have fun and get some seat time with the best.
Before practice, Andrew was in tears. He didn’t want to go out, he was scared. Many people talked to him and we got him calmed down and on the track. The track is smaller than our track with some tricky corners, especially turn 3 and 4. While we were in line to go in, another older racer saw Andrew crying and pulled him aside and told him how to handle the corners as far as where to enter and exit. I thought it was so sweet for an older kid to care and take the time to help a younger racer. The announcer had announced that he was figuring the wall out of turn 4 would swallow many of the cars up and of course Andrew heard that. Sigh. He has to be tougher but come on, don’t say that to kids. It was obvious during practice that Andrew was timid and was using his brakes, but he didn’t cause any wrecks and let people get passed him safely without hitting the wall. He came out feeling a little better, but still scared.
Tony did a quick tire change for three of his tires due to Andrew saying he was sliding. He also found something wrong with the car that the whole crew jumped in and fixed together. Again, track dads are amazing and so helpful and I am glad we had a good crew together.
We had heat races next and Andrew had drawn the 6th position. Normally that would be an ideal position because heat races are all about passing points, but we still having trouble with passing and being brave. Plus, on this track, the outside line gets squeezed out unless you are SUPER aggressive and we are not even sort of aggressive yet (although I am sure it will come). He ended up finishing last and getting lapped by the 1-3rd cars, but he seemed a lot more comfortable and had some good things in each lap. The track was slow thanks to the colder weather and the turns were tricky. We had a long talk post race about trying your hardest as he was going to in a lower main due to finishing last. Again, we didn’t expect any placements, but we did expect trying.
At first they wanted to try and get the lower
mains done and have a late night and then do A mains on Saturday but then with
the temp drop they changed their minds.
We didn’t care, we hung out in our friend’s RV and had beer and great
conversation. I have a feeling we may be
doing a lot of travel with the Thulins.
Saturday was lower mains and A mains. We were going to get done a day earlier and we were all fine with that. Us being rookies to these events made it a little confusing to figure out the format. First, we did all the D mains for all the classes that needed D mains, then C, then B, and then A. First four in each main transferred up. Passing points and wins seeded you into what main and what position. We were in the B main due to only 15 cars, and we weren’t seeded last, but next to last on the outside.
We had 9 cars in our field and Andrew was again a bit nervous. We tried to explain this was a lower main so more kids like him, but that didn’t help. All four of our kids were in the B main with Makayla being in the lead and madden and maverick being right ahead of him. Again, give us some nice try. Stay up in line with the pack on starts, no braking for wrecks that “might” happen, and try not to get pushed up and hung out to dry. He was being super good staying up with the pack and then they got the green flag and a big wreck collected him and flattened his right front tire.
I am not normally pit crew and was standing right by our pit cart when they brought him in to change his tire. I have no clue what tire is what or what any tool is so they were yelling things at me and I had so confused. Thank GOD for track dads as they quickly got all the things they needed and got the tire changed quickly and Andrew back out. He ended up finishing last, but only got lapped by one car and then held his own to keep the others from passing him. Overall, I will take it, his try was back and he wasn’t so scared and timid. Those turns were NO joke and he figured them out and had some nice laps.
Post racing and cheering on our friends in the other mains (we had a national champ in our camp as well as a third place finisher, and several kids in the A mains), we all had some beer and some fun. The kids rode scooters and bikes on the track and the big kids played football. Let’s just say Tony had a couple of spectacular touch downs as well as some amazing interceptions.