Well, it looks like we did it. We made it through our first Rookie year in LSR.
This past Sunday, Sept 12, 2010, I came out to El Mirage the same way we did one year ago as a Rookie, eager and ready to race!
The big difference from 1 year ago is how much I have learned and gained from the everyone in LSR we have come in contact with.
So, in true spirit of becoming a "1 Year Old", I went out to do something spectacular to celebrate our first anniversary.
The morning began on Sunday as usual at El Mirage, the morning announcements and meetings. The air was cool, no wind and a course ready to be conquered. We have advanced in position over the year, and I was super stoked to be at #33 for the first time. So we headed back to our trailer after D3 closed out, and suited up. While in line, I needed to remind myself several times we were not at SW, and that I only had 1.3 miles to make it happen. Nevertheless, I was also head full with my club team members advice of throttle control and tempering the rear wheel. So we started out after Mr. Jensen gave me the sign and off I went. The course felt good, a little loose in some spots, but good overall. I hugged the cones and went through the gears. Before I knew it, the lights came and that was it. Hmm, I thought, guess we aren't at Bonneville anymore, and that was awfully short.
Well, all my caution to be back at Elmo showed in my slip. It was just over 160 and I knew my head needed to refocus on the short course of the lakebed. So instead of going back to the trailer and waiting for Round 2, we busted out the little bike (650 APS-F) and ran it at the end of Round 1. It was a very predictable pass in the 150s which is well under Cathy's record in class. I was happy to now have points on another of our numbers and we headed back to the trailer and busted out the big bike again for Round 2.
The sun was warming up the morning fast, the DA was rising and I knew it was go time on the big bike if we were going to do something special on our big day. So, when we arrived at the starting line, I told Mr. Jensen we were going after our "B" at Elmo (we already have a "B" in Bonneville) and I was going after the class record. He wished me a good luck, I kissed my Bride and off I went.
From the start, I did my best to maintain wheel spin, and by third gear, I threw the hammer down and went for it, winding out in each gear. The run felt great. I knew it was fast, but unsure of what speed exactly. After I turned off to head to the return road, I was greeted by a club member who was also working the line. We chatted while waiting for my return crew (wifey and pals) to pick me up. He thought he heard I was at 185, but wanted me to get it first hand from the slip instead. Well to my surprise, it was an awesome second run. We qualified for our "B" and we were only 1.5MPH under the record in class. needless to say I was beaming with happiness. It was my fastest speed at El Mirage to date, we got a license upgrade and I was just short of the record. That was good enough for me, and I felt in our first year we had done pretty darn good. We loaded up the bike on the tow trailer, and headed back to get our slip and pit. I went to the starting tower, retrieved the slip, met with Mr. Jensen and he signed me off for our 'B'. It was a great feeling to be there with him, 1 year after he signed off my rookie passes. It was a very special moment for me, as Mr. Jensen took a lot of time with me at the line each time to make sure I was safe, comfortable and ready to race. His sheer presence at each pass I have made since day one gives me a warm feeling of safety and calm before I launched each pass. Thank you Jim.
So, here we are, all licensed up, a fantastic pass and my personal best on the 1.3, and what do I do? I decide we are going back out in Round 3. Call me goofy, nuts, whatever. But for some reason inside, I felt the day wasn't over yet and I wanted another run and shot at the record which has stood for 4 years untouched. With my club's support of great mentors like John Noonan, Kent Riches, Randy, Eric and others, I saddled up and went out to the starting line. As always, Mr. Jensen's calming presence wished me luck and off I went.
This time, I held back nothing. Short shifting to keep the torque curve in the gears, I twisted the gauntlet and let her fly. It was wonderful. The big 14 ran like a dream and ate up the lakebed in nothing flat. Yet when I went through the lights, for some reason it seemed a bit slower than my 2nd pass. I said to myself, "Oh well, no biggy, you had a great day, and time to go home". I steered into the return area, parked her and took my helmet off. As I waited for my crew, Sherri Buchta came in from her run on Willie's bike, and we chatted for a bit. The guy who came in behind me, got informed he just set a Record, his first since he started in 1989. He was really happy, and I congratulated him.
Then my crew drove up. No emotion on their faces. I just figured, oh well, at least I got my B today already, and that was good enough. The window rolled down as they pulled up beside me, and my wife said "Well honey, you were close but you just missed it", and I thought how much closer could I have been? She said again, "you were close, but you didn't hit 200", I looked at her puzzled, and she said "you went 191!! Yeeeaaahhhoooo!
I said, we just got the record!!! Man was happy. To think that in our first year we advanced to get our first record was just the best thing since bells for cats. I was so stoked I had to ask at least a hundred times "are you sure??", and each answer was yes. Van Butler confirmed it on the radio for us to the tower, and off I went for the first time to impound. I was greeted by Tom and fellow club members Kent and Randy. What a great feeling. And just before we went to go do this run, Kent said "think 192." Well I guess he gave me some special mojo, because 191.895 is pretty darned close to 192. Thanks for the great mojo Kent!
So all in all, it has been a great 1st year as a rookie in LSR, and I cannot wait to see what great experiences await us ahead in year 2 and going forward. I have had the time of my life so far, and LSR is without a doubt the best Motorsport I have ever been involved in. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has been great.
I want to thank these folks especially for giving me the chance to have a wonderful 1st Rookie year.
-> The entire SCTA-BNI org from Mr.Creel and D3, Mr. Kennedy, JoAnn in the office, down to every volunteer.
-> Van Butler and Tom Evans for putting up with silly Rookie questions, and teaching me along the way.
-> My club, the San Diego Roadster Club, for giving me a place to be a racer. Special thanks to Noonan for inviting me into the club, and Moreland for helping initiate me and every member treating me with respect and parting on to me wisdom needed in LSR.
-> Mr. Jim Jensen, Dean, Wes and Miriam at the starting line. You guys are the rock that kept me straight all season.
-> My lovely wife Marina, who is now also the clubs Ice Tea queen at Bonneville.
-> Mr Landracing Seldom Seen Slim who gave me some early advice, and a shoulder to cry on at WF09 when I smashed my oil pan.
Thank you Jon and Nancy.
And of course, all the countless others who have had a hand in keeping us going. Thanks to all of you.
It has been a great 1st year, and I sign off,
Steve "Papi" Chappell - #2230 "Shooting Star", 1650 P/P El Mirage Record Holder 191.895MPH !