Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Inspector Detector, or here come da Judge!

Fernley Nevada, somewhere out in the Nevada Desert...

Friday morning, 22 May 09, open track day prior to the "Goin for Broken" 24 Hours of Lemons.

We unloaded our LeMons "racecar", one worn out Rubber Bumper '77 MGB and took our trailer down to the lower parking area to save space for the trifecta of crazy MR2 teams we suddenly found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of.

As the remaining members of our team trickled in, we slowly got busy finishing up a bazillion loose ends we had not yet completed; removal of remaining side marker lights, zip tying rollcage padding, bolting or zip tying down anything that moved or clunked. It seemed to be a game of "Whack-a-mole". Everytime I thought we were finished, something else popped up. And it was HOT.

The day rolled on, the temperature went up and the sun began to bake our brains.

Many of the other teams already went through tech and were out on the track testing their rolling rust buckets, but we were stuck in limbo wondering how to get out on the track. Do we tech first? Do we just go pay for track time and go driving? It seemed a bit too easy just go out and start driving. Newbies we most definitely were.

3 of us had decided to pony up and get some track practice time and flog the car for the afternoon to flush out any gremlins. Not knowing what exactly to do, we took a walk down to the track HQ several times and got conflicting info from the man in the trailer.

Turns out it WAS as simple as paying the cash and wheeling out of the paddock. The LeMons race and the track day were separate events and not connected. Passing tech was not needed to test the track. And it only took us half a day to figure that out, ha-ha!

We were about to take a few practice laps, but then realized that the warnings on the P.A. about getting our cars through tech and judging before they closed for the day applied to US. Once they closed for the day, tech was done. There would not be any Saturday Tech inspections.

We came to the conclusion that it would REALLY suck if we went out and practiced now, and then ran into a tech snag later with no time to recover.

So we decided to go ahead and do a test run through tech first and see what we needed to fix, while we still had time thrash on the car.

We began to head over to the lineup, and I realized I had NO IDEA where our tech sheet was.


Luckily my super-astute-and-knows-I-forget-random-things-spouse had printed out extra copies. So I hastily filled out the new form and initialed the line items, double checking to make sure we did not forget something obvious and embarrassing.

I lined up our car behind the HQ tent and waited, trying to keep calm. I felt like I was waiting for test results, Pink or Blue, Plus or Minus, one line or two. Ug.

Then it was our turn. Arnand checked our paperwork, looked over the car for basic items and sent us into the tech area.

The inspector detector looked us over, poked and prodded first the car then my fire suit and gave us a few items he wanted us to adjust - which included cutting a hole in our front seat so the 5th strap or "anti-submarine" strap did not castrate us in case of an accident. But other wise it all went well. The "Kill-switch" killed the car, and the fire extinguisher was easy to reach.

Then he had me sit in the car all suited up, helmet and everything, and made me adjust all the straps nice and snug.

"FIRE-FIRE-FIRE!!!" he yelled at me, "GET OUT OF THE CAR!!!"

Now, in the back of my mind I KNEW this was coming. I had heard it all day going on next to us. But this is not something you ever want to say to an English car owner, especially if he is tightly strapped into his car!

FWOOSH! I was out of that thing in a flash.

"Good job" said the inspector detector.

"Wow!" said lurch. "You were out of there FAST."

I looked back and did not see any flames. And then regained my composure.

He signed us off, and suddenly we were headed towards the "B.S. judging" area. (And I was still secretly looking for any smoke.)

Now previously, my wife went through MUCH time and effort getting our papers in order. While this bucket of bolts is a legit $480 car and very little went into it performance wise, we were still uneasy about the whole judging process. They assign 1 penalty lap for every $10 of perceived value above 500 bucks. It is real easy to start off in the negative, and you could spend all day trying to get back to lap # 1.

I tried to build and enter this car in the spirit of the event, knowing that if I cheated I would only be cheating myself of the satisfaction of finishing a 500 dollar car race in an actual 500 dollar car.

That being said, it has been said there are two types of racers, cheaters and losers.

A stock '77 MGB has no chance in hell against modern Miatas, BMWs or MR2s. But with just a few tweaks we could at least make it somewhat mid-pack competitive.

I threw in a slightly less horrible motor and slapped on every handling trick I could think of. I sold anything that was left over. Luckily the stuff I got was dirt cheap, but even used it looked a little too nice for my comfort. Lots of sandblasting, dragging parts beneath cars, and leaving things under the sprinklers for a few weeks ensured that the replacement parts looked just as bad as the rest of the car.

Plan A, Better to not be noticed than raise an eyebrow. Legit as I was, I was still going in prepared for the worst!

For plan B, we had paperwork to prove every penny we spent, and every penny we made by selling extras.

And for plan C, we had bribes. A local Meadery produces some KICK-ASS honey based booze, which fit in perfectly with our Killer Bee theme.

We rolled up into the B.S. judging area, Johny and Murilee approached me and said "Hey, nice facial hair!" They looked at the car for a quick second, then turned to each other and said "There's really not much to talk about here. Zero laps".

"WHAT?!? Wait a minute! We have Bribes!" I cried...

My team members tried to shut me up.

"No, you don't understand, I'm going to get the full wrath of "squeeky-kick-my-ass-spouse" if you don't look at her paperwork! I spent rent on honey-booze! And we got T-shirts!"

Slightly confused, the judges said "Well, alright" and took our bribes, then painted a couple big red "Bribed" stencils on the car.

Murilee looked at his T-shirt and noticed the name Arraiac on the front.


"Uh, it's just something got off the web" I joked.

He did not know that I did my research. Arriac Murilee is the name of his old garage band, and is where he got his pen name from. He changed it to Murilee Martin because no one could pronounce Arriac. I thought it was a nice obscure touch.

He thought it was surreal. Like, totally weird. And looked at me like I had just appeared from the gates of hell.

"Weird. Totally weird".

Next: Testing, Testing, this thing on?

Previous: Wow. Just freaking wow.

From The beginning of this mess

1 comment:

  1. Hey nice footage of the killer bee on good morning america this morning! :)