Monday, October 04, 2010

Alastair's First Track Weekend!!!!!

I took Alastair to Summit Point this weekend. I was nervous about it, concerned that an over-amped driver coming off the track might blaze through the paddock and mow him down, or that he'd wander off to places unknown, or that he'd just be bored to tears and whine all weekend.

He was awesome.

My parents met us at about 4:30pm on Friday, helped pack a few last-minute items, and we were off to the mountains of West Virginia. The drive took a little longer than usual, but traveling w/ a 4-yr-old tends to add time to any trip.

We got to the track a few minutes after 8pm, and it was pitch black. Alastair was a huge trouper about getting everything set up for the night, and as a reward got to ride in the Miata around the paddock area. We even went and watched the go-karts for a little while before coming back to the trailer. When we got there, he told me that he needed to go to bed. And indeed he did--it was 9:45pm!

We slept fitfully, having only brought one pillow for the two of us to share, but the next morning we were both quite chipper, in spite of the cluster that awaited...

First off, the track was super slick on Saturday morning. I got out late and only turned a few laps before parking the car--it's just not worth the effort sometimes. Then, as I was preparing to get in the right seat to instruct Mr. Gohlke, another guy came up and told me I was his instructor. Um... uh oh. Turns out there'd been a mix-up at Registration, and I'd been assigned a completely green student. Which meant we had no idea who was supposed to instruct Daniel. And naturally, we only had about 2 minutes to resolve it before the session began.

Oh, and? Alastair had to be left alone, by himself, in the trailer during the session. With more than a little trepidation for his safety, I fired up a movie, stuffed my helmet on my head, and headed out for what would be an eventful first instruction session.

My guy was very green (it was his first track day ever), but seemed to have a good knowledge of what the car could do. Unfortunately, about 2/3 through the session, we spun. No biggie, but it was early enough in the day that I decided to park him and let him cool down a bit. He was shaken, but no harm had been done. Daniel fared a bit better with his instructor, only scaring the guy half to death a few dozen times as he reacquainted himself with the car (we got the situation resolved later--switched students, and Daniel got promoted to Intermediate AND got solo-ed).

I came back to find things going quite well, and indeed things remained very stable throughout the day, except for a couple of minor issues. The day went so well, in fact, that Alastair asked if he could camp in the trailer again that night. So we said adieu to my parents for the day and prepared for the night.

But first...

...we got to put Alastair's go-kart on the race track. Holy. Freakin'. Cow. I thought he'd be bored after doing 1/3 of a lap, but he wanted to keep going and going. He drove almost the entire track before the temperature started to drop, including Karussel, Corkscrew, almost the whole front straight, the Stonehouse Straight, Hook, and Trigger. We had to cut under some track-walkers at one point, and as we came down the main straight, a crowd gathered to watch him toodle along. Seeing his fans, of course he decided to wave.

And then it was time for me to go karting. Daniel and I entered the 1-hour enduro race at Summit Point kart, and for 30 minutes I held the lead, passing the reins to Daniel in horrible form with a late black-flag and a boot that stuck on the brake pedal. We ended the race in 3rd place, 32 seconds behind the leader, but still on the lead lap (in fact the very last kart on the lead lap).

Alastair cheered through it all, pausing along the way to make some friends and share toys.

We capped the night with grilled hotdogs & beans, took a nice long shower, and Little Man asked weepily to go to bed immediately thereafter. He was worn out.

The next morning I was assigned yet another student. Another instructor had suffered an injury in the night, and I got to take a solo check-ride in a blazing fast Hyundai Genesis. And in the afternoon I had a guy in the Advanced group ask me to ride along with him. So for an event where I was accepted as a provisional instructor with only one student, I ended up having 4 students!

Everybody got to ride in the Miata at least once--dad on the first day, Randy on the 2nd, Daniel rode twice (I think). And in my last solo driving session, I set a personal lap record of 1:45.195. It was a fantastic weekend. Alastair was a delight and didn't gripe about the 3-hour trek up or back, the car held up (even if the tires didn't--all 4 were showing cord by Sunday afternoon), and everybody made it home safely.

And ya know what? I get to do it all again this weekend at VIR!


Anonymous said...

Good for you, but leaving Little A alone in a trailer is not cool.

ahamos said...

I don't disagree--not even for an instant. Circumstance, however, put that relatively beyond my control, and when I say "trailer", think "RV without engine". Seriously: AC, bed, entertainment system, everything but a bathroom. He's slept in it before (alone), so I wasn't worried about him staying in it. My only worry was that he'd get out. But he was watching his favorite movie ever, and he knows so well not to wander when cars are around that really my only potential concern would have been somebody driving through our paddock spot. Which was functionally impossible without running over all of our stuff.