The amazing thing about waking up from a horrendous wreck is that you have to have everything explained to you. You were there, but a good hit erases your short term memory. 20 years ago when I tore my nice RS split bumper Camaro in half while outrunning the police, I don’t remember a whole lot. All I remember is waking up in a corn field 10 hours later and wondering where I parked my car.
I was in a few more wrecks after that incident, A female drunk driver pulled out in front of me and my brand new Grand Prix (13 miles on it) and a year later an old lady pulled out in front of my Achieva (no-one got hurt in either event, air bags are great). No I haven’t had too much luck with women. So when I nicknamed my 9.90 Monte Carlo Bessie she was destined to toss me and she didn’t disappoint. 6 and 1/2 fast violent rolls down the top of the guardrail and a beautiful vertical 180. Its too bad, that was a deadly consistent car. Once again an ambulance driver is explaining the event to me. He told me that new side pod you recently added to your roll cage saved you from having a broken neck (that was my chassis builders idea). Oh and if a nurse asks you if its O.K. to give you a catheter, say no. Those things really hurt.
Now after reviewing my driving career I discovered I was running out of lives. I also no longer took for granted professionally built products.
A few years back a Pro-Mod driver contacted me to build him a set of carburetors. His previously selected builder was inexperienced in assembly and as a result his throttle linkage hung at WOT under load and wiped out a championship contending car. Needless to say he too found respect for professionally built products the hard way.
There are a lot of parts that make up a vehicle. These cars shake something fierce and create some bizarre phenomenon’s. After years of experience building these things you learn to correct for them. We sure go through a lot of loctite, cotter pins, epoxy and have learned some valuable techniques.
It should scare you a bit when you think about what your car is about to do. It’s a ride that Disney World could never get insurance for as the risk is too great. Also, Disney rides are designed and tested by professionals. When you step up to the plate and decide you’re going to street car race on any level you are instantly a “ride builder”. But remember, Walt Disney himself may have thought of the ride, but he relied on professionals to assist him in the design.
So it makes me feel good when I get a call from a guy/gal that is just getting into street car racing. They’re taking it slow, spending some time in the ranks. They want to earn their stripes and they give you a call because they want you on their team.
Talking to professionals and getting a program going is one thing. But you do have a responsibility as a car owner. Be sure to pay attention to what your car is telling you. If its wobbly, runs rough or has a weird brake feel at the finish-line, fix it. Everything costs you something, if it’s not acceleration or critical handling, its deceleration or ease of steering/brake/accelerator operation. These cars will bite you easy enough without giving any warnings. So think of the warnings as a freebie. Shorten the learning curve, contact a professional in anything you’re going to do. Call Camp Stanley, E mail Patrick Budd, talk to Mr. Carter, post on the NMCA/NSCA boards. There are guys out there that know their deal and like to help people. Its A LOT cheaper to learn from someone else’s experiences than your own. Oh and don’t forget to pass on the catheter.
Thanks for reading. Stay safe, go fast.