Saturday, September 22, 2007

Lucky... A huge success!!!

After the usual mandatory stop at Starbucks for Jon it was early morning when we left for the track. The sky was black, it was cold and raining and we knew we would be out on a slippery track with a whole slew of rookies. When we arrived at the track it didn't look like it was going to get any better. While I went to the driver's meeting Jon and Will finished checking out some driver/navigation equipment to make sure our helmet mics and ear buds were working.
It seemed like time passed by in a heartbeat and before we knew what was happening we had already been on grid and were pulling out onto the traffic along with about 40 other cars about mid pack. We knew the purpose was to just shake the car down, nothing special, drive smooth, stay away from rookies and keep the shinny side up. After two laps behind the pace car we could begin to see somewhat of a line taking shape on the track as we felt the car out.

Here's the official first track run for Lucky as captured on video (this is a very rough, unedited clip from our documentary footage - which we will be giving you more information about very soon)

Some good news was early coming as soon as Jon began talking over the keyless communication system and it was as if you were listening to the pilot of a 747 talking over a multi-million dollar PA system. During the rest of the day that system worked flawlessly even over the noise of many race cars.

It was only about 5 laps into the session before we could see that a decent line had made itself present on the wet track and it wasn't long before we found ourselves out in front of the entire pack and we still hadn't opened it up. The main thing I wanted to accomplish during today was to basically drive around the track making sure every thing was working well, no rubbing, strange noises, smells, leaks and so on. Once I felt all was good with those priorities then we might do some testing and push it a little. But the longer we went the better the handling felt and getting the rear end happy was just as controlled as any driver could ever ask for. Let me tell you... Lucky can hold a line and when he plants himself you really know. I couldn't have been more pleased. As a matter of fact everything went so well we only ran a few sessions and packed up early and came home.

Here's a short clip of the interview we taped for our documentary during the test session-

Today is the first day I have honestly relaxed in 6 months and it was as if I had arrived home after a long trip. I have no idea how long it has been since I have spent the day truly doing what I love with my wife, son and best friend Jon but it was long over due and coming home with all four tires intact makes it that much better. By the way, the in-car camera with sound is nothing short of state of the art! Way to go Jon buddy!

We still have a couple big surprises to announce that I am not at liberty to discuss at this time but there are a few things that I can. I was pleased to meet one of the drivers of another team that will be running in this year's La Carrera Panamericana in the Exhibition Class. He is Colin Herrick who will be driving a BMW Mini Cooper S while his father navigates and is sponsored by Mini Mania. We had a chance to talk for a brief while before I had to go on track and I was looking forward to talking more and getting some photos of his very cool ride but he had some tech problems that didn't allow him to run. The good news is we will have plenty of time when we are in Mexico. Good luck with your tech issues Colin.

Parked near us in the paddock was a very special car or should I say it was very unique to me. Yes it was a mustang and if you saw it parked on the street you may not have even thought twice to look at it however my son told me I really needed to take a closer look. It was faded and could use a new paint job but the truth is that would probably ruin what made it so special. Standing close up you could easily make out the original paint on the door that said "SALINAS VALLEY FORD". Also on the rear fenders it said, "CAN AM ROUND 4" and "OFFICIAL PACE CAR, LAGUNA SECA 10/16/1966" Present at that very race were some of the biggest racing legends of all time. Just to name a few... Phil Hill, Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, George Follmer, Parnelli Jones, Dan Gurney, Eppie Wietzes, Sam Posey, Mark Donohue, Doug Revson, Al Unser. If that's not some impressive names then wait until you hear what cars they drove... Ford GT40, McLaren, Lola, Chaparral, 1966 McKee Olds Mk6 Can Am and the list goes on forever. The bottom line is this mustang has been in some awesome company in it's day. A few years after that event I was lucky to not only watch many of them on the same track but in fact spent the entire weekend with them in the pits while being a pit boy for none other than Dick Smothers. By the way, did I tell you how much this Mustang excited me?

The next time you hear someone complain about how much they pay for a gallon of gas show them the photo above of how much it cost me to top off my tank this morning. 15.3 gallons cost $98.93 and that was for low test. That is, low test considering I only used 112 octane as opposed to 114 and 116 respectfully.

There were a lot of great cars today and as usual there were more than a fair share of whale-tail Porsche's present but one of my favorites was there today as well. Check out the black and white. It seems everywhere Lucky goes the black and whites follow.

What a great ego boost it was to have so many compliments paid to Lucky from friends and racing fans alike and isn't that really what enjoying racing is all about... The love of great cars, friendship, laughter, excitement and even the sounds and smell. There was some great moments today besides the awesome results that Lucky put forth and there was one time when I laughed so hard that... well, that's one of those things I can't talk about so you'll just have to wait.

Before I close, I would like to mention my son in law. Without Anthony, this never would have come to be. He runs my business, deals with all my problems, stress and life as it is which makes this all a reality. While I am out testing and racing many times he stays behind to run things at home and business. He is a big part of TEAM CALIFORNIA'S BEST racing as well as the corporation. Even though he is a huge part of the team and has been at so many successful podium victories during these past years it saddens me to know he will not be accompanying us on this adventure due to his willingness and dedication to tend to business. I am so lucky to have such an wonderful family including my wife, daughter Charmagne, sons Will and Anthony who pick up all the pieces and even better that they have dedicated their lives to what it is we all love... racing.


Carreratime said...

Congratulations on a successful test day. Are you going to post the in car video to the blog?

Gary said...

Sounds like a great day G!

What an incredible piece of history that pace car is. Seeing that must have been the off track highlight of the day.

Can't wait to see the in car!

Gary Faules said...

Thanks guys and yes it was a super day and just maybe there might be some video. Regarding the old Mustang we took it as an omen. What are the odds that an old Mustang with such a unique rich racing history would be parked next to us on the very day that we would test our Mustang? We never even saw the owner... it just sat parked there all day. Isn't it funny that such a plain car could spark so much interest. I remember an old children's story about being an ugly duckling but one that swam with the swans and if that isn't a fitting tribute in this case I don't know what is. As I quietly walked around that car with my son I couldn't help but be taken back to my very first days at Laguna Seca with all those men and their amazing machines. It was such an amazing time in my life, one that many times seems as if it was just a dream. I didn't remember until this morning but my good friend Phil Hill won that race in 1966 in his winged Chaparral 2E and if you thought the Mustang was amazing you should have been there in person with me back in those days to see the Chaparrals dominate. Now you talk about exciting and fans standing on their feet.

1966 saw the birth of one of the most fantastic race series ever: the Can-Am! And Jim Hall's Chaparrals were there right from the very beginning.

The Chaparral 2E was competitive right out of the gate. At the 1966 Monterey Grand Prix, Hall started the #66 Chaparral 2E on pole for the first heat, thanks to the new lap record he set in qualifying. Hill in #65 was alongside, making it an all-Texas Roadrunner front row. Fitted with tabs on the nose and wider wings featuring endplates, all designed to maximize downforce on the twisty California circuit, the Chaparrals were looking tough to beat!

Hall led off the line but purposely went wide at turn 3 to let Hill set the pace. In so doing he inadvertently let McLaren squeeze by into 2nd and so Hall had to undo the damage! It took half the race, but he finally managed to take back the position and finished the heat in team formation, 1-2, just 3 seconds apart. Amazingly, this would come to be Chaparral's only Can-Am victory!

George Sullivan said...

Good to see LUCKY finally under power the car looks and sounds good. I finally got another post up on our blog yesterday.