Monday, June 23, 2008

Another wild night at the track

Well... it was another strange night out at Evergreen.

It was hot and muggy for the nights races. After the lesson learned the week before, the Hot Rod was skinned up with new rubber and we were looking to recapture the magic of three weeks earlier when we lead the first 13 laps of the race. Unfortunately, the car was a little tight all day. We tried a few tweaks here and there before heading out for the heat race and nothing seemed to be working. Well, when all else fails, break out the wrenches! A couple of degrees here, a turn of bite out there and we were ready for the main.

A short aside... During the autograph session, Scott Whitmore of the Everett Herald (read his blog here: ) came by and chatted with us and during the course of the conversation he asked Scott how he thought he would do. Scott answered "I anticipate getting our best finish of the season tonight, which would mean 7th." I never knew LaCrash to be a clairvoyant, but I'm begining to think he is.

We started the main 11th, which is a little strange to us as that is an Inside row starting spot. It seems like we end up on the outside of dang near every start and restart this year for some reason. There was a full restart as the guys up front ended up 4 wide and and 1 car ended up having to driving off the track onto the 5/8ths to avoid getting in a wreck. This was the 1st wreck of the evening that we had to avoid... and not the last by far. It seemed like we were directly behind just about every caution this week, swerving or sliding to avoid getting into it. And while we didnt come away completely unscathed (left front fender will need some love this week) we are not looking at doing a major amount of body work this week.

Anyhow, Scott drove the car to its limit and while it was good, it just wasnt right there where it needed to be. Add to this the incident where a car got into us, got us sideways and then drove over the left rear (Totally one of those racing deals btw... That particular driver is one of the cleanest around so we knew it wasnt intentional.) Shockingly enough, the quarter panel didnt get destroyed and it all adds up to a pretty ill handling car by the end of the night.  With about 3 laps to go, the leader spun and brought out the final of what seemed like a half dozen cautions. With a green/white/checkered finish in store, we restarted in 8th place and were able to work into 7th when the checkers flew. Everyone was pleased with our performance for the most part and of course we were all excited that our good buddy Jeff Knight got his first win! 

I want to take a moment here to thank Trevor Hall for coming out and giving us a hand this weekend. When Fred called us Saturday morning to let us know he wasnt going to make it, we jumped on the chance to have Trevor come crew for us and he did not dissapoint. Next time you are going to come hang with us Trev, let us know and you can pick out one of the pizzas!

Next up, the "Superspeedway of the Northwest" the 5/8ths oval for Mid Season Championship night, this Saturday. There is lots to do to prepare for this race, so the next installment of the history of Team LaCross may have to wait a little bit.

Also, there is still 1/2 of a season to go and we are currently looking for companies and/or individuals who would like to take advantage of a great marketing oportunity with Team LaCross. If you know of anyone who might be up for some prime signage on one of the best looking cars at Evergreen, let us know! NASCAR is one of the most popular sports in America and for a very affordable amount, You or your company will benefit from being seen weekly by potential customers of every demographic and age group. Put that together with PA announcements, distribution of your literature and/or swag (keychains, pens, t-shirts, antenna balls or whatever you might like to provide) during trackside weekly autograph sessions and of course mention of you or your business during radio/newspaper interviews and you can see that there is a definate "Bang for your buck" that few advertising opportunities can provide at this investment level.

Thanks for stopping by and we will see you at the track!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Humble beginings...

1998... The birth of Team LaCross

The year that we Purchased the 1996 championship car from Steve Green. In 1997, LaCrash and Harrision purchased an old Rabbit mini stock and split time in it, learning the game. H driving conservatively and LaCrash earning his nickname by providing us with ample opportunities to hone our body work skills. We also learned a lesson that was expensive to be sure... Always tighten the carb stud nut! That first year we kind of waded through, finishing 19th in the points but laying the ground work for what was to come.

Come the start of the 1998 season, we came out for the first practice, car painted up all pretty, ready to set the world on fire and ::smack::: right into the turn 4 wall. I still have the chunk of bondo that was filling up the old gas filler door hanging in our race shop to this day as a little reminder of how it all came to be.

We took the car home, fixed it up and hit the track running. Back then, the Team consisted of Scott, Peter, Doug, Bob and Myself. We were all pretty new to this racing thing and very green when it came to the comittment it took to prepare a car. Friday nights at the Paragon often resulted in Saturdays spent popping tylenol instead of doing the things necessary to win races. Through it all, we kept at it and by the end of the season, we had improved to a finishing position of 8th in final standings. Not too bad for a bunch of guys who started the season not knowing what tire pressures, cross weights and ride height could really mean to the performance of a race car!

By now, we now were understanding what it takes to compete, although we were still young guys out having a good time. The team pretty much had a regular routine of Friday nights having a few Pops, Saturday at the track and Sunday recharging. Everyone was looking forward to 1999 and a run at the championship. This all came to a crashing halt after 2 words entered our vocabulary that were to shape the way we do things to this very day... which will be a part of our next post... but I'll give you a hint to what those words are...



Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sometimes, just being there is a victory

So it was another fine January night at Evergreen Speedway. A fine mist/drizzle filled the air, cool temps were the word of the day and the sky was a dreary Grey color.... Oh wait, Its JUNE!!!!

Yeah, the coldest June in recorded history in our little slice of America has greeted us so far. We arrived at the track about 4:30 and waited outside the back gate, anticipating rain but getting just enough drizzle to make the track a little slick, but not quite enough for them to call the race.

A word: Used tires stink! The grand experiment of saving a little cash by using last week's tires was both a miserable failure and a valuable learning experience... The Hot Rod was terrible most of the night, skating around and threatening to go around smacking into things like Tonya Harding. These are things that you learn when you are new to a series.

During Qualifying, the car snapped loose on our 2nd lap, resulting in our worst effort of the year. However, we did impress all involved when Scott was able to execute a spin & drive away move that Jim Rockford would have been proud of! During the heat race, more of the same, but this time off the track into the wet grass we went, car a little dirty, but unharmed.

Rain + old used up asphalt = Cars spinning on the pace laps. No less than 3 cars did slow spins as the drizzle returned. It was determined that the Mini stocks would run their main first, drying the track for us, much to the displeasure of the guys and gals who were not expecting to run their main until later in the night and were still repairing/tuning their cars.

By the time the main rolled around, it was determined that we should just go out and bring back the car in one piece. I made a couple of adjustments to make the car a little more stable on terrible tires, but it was obvious from the start that Scott just couldn't put the car where he wanted to with any confidence that it would stay there. We pedaled around, trying to bring it home and made one more off track mud bog trip, which made a mess of the airbox, but nothing we cant fix easily. Unfortunately, some guys didn't make it out so easily. The final 2 laps took about 25 minutes to run as several cars wrecked on the restarts.

We finished 12th... a step backwards to be sure, but as the title of this post indicates, every cloud has a silver lining. By just being there and racing, we have moved up a position in the championship standings. We are now firmly in the top ten in 8th place! 27 points separate us from the guys running tied for 6th and only 44 from the guys tied for 4th! It may seem like a lot to make up with our point structure, but if we keep improving and someone has a bad night here or there, who knows how this thing could shake out. I look back at the first couple of races this season, races that we could have performed better at if I had been a little more proactive in replacing a few items that turned out to be a huge deal in the performance of the car and we could definitely be nipping a lot closer to the heels of the top 5. 

We have this weekend off then one more 3/8ths race until we have a run at the big 5/8ths oval. We know the 3/8ths... we have won multiple championships on it... but the big track will be a new experience for Scott and we are all excited to see how we do!

Stay tuned for a new series coming up... Team LaCross, the history! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ooooh, look at the fast car Mommy!

Well, I gotta tell ya, it was one heck of a breakthrough weekend for good Ole’ Team LaCross.

Sometimes in racing it’s all about numbers… Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad, sometimes you just toss your hands in the air and wonder why

18.096 – 12 – 1 – 13 – 17.822 – 8 – 9 – 1/8 – 3

18.096 – Our Qualifying time this week. 2/10ths faster than we have gone before. At this rate, we should be hitting the 4’s sometime soon… Heh

12 – Our qualifying position. I’ve got to figure out a way to get a qualifying set up in the car that Crash can drive into the 17’s. This, by the way just happened to be the invert for this week’s race, which leads us to…

1 – Our starting position for the main. The first pole position start for us in a Late Model. It is also the first pole start for us in I don’t know how many years, because in the Mini’s we ALWAYS started in the back due to either our points position or from a top three the week before (in the Mini stock class, there is a full field invert every week, which is dictated by championship points position)

13 – Laps led. For the first 8 laps, Crash drove away from the field. It was awesome to see him driving that car out front, leading 2nd by upwards of 12 car lengths. It reminded me of the old days when we would slice through the field in the Scirocco then run away from the field and tool around the track like it was a Sunday test session.

17.822 – Scott’s fastest race lap. Also Scott’s fastest time lap to date! This is where we need to be to stay competitive. It really made me happy to pop onto yesterday and see that number. We now have confirmation that the car is definitely capable of running those numbers and faster and we know the driver can click those numbers off too!

8 – Practice laps total for the day. Unfortunately, we wanted to scuff in our qualifying tires and did not have a swift enough tire change back to the practice hoops to get in any quality laps to really tune the car. However, what we were able to learn in the heat race was what gave us reason to make a couple of small changes that really paid off for the main event. This was also our finishing position in the race. The track was unusually dirty Sat night and that led to a slight off track excursion while running in 2nd around the 15th lap or so. We dropped from 2nd to 16th as Scott did a great job driving down the dirt off of the back stretch and avoided crashing or spinning the car, staying on the lead lap! I was pretty happy that he was able to race his way back into the top 10, all the while constantly having to restart after the many yellows on the outside, in the aforementioned mess of a groove.

9 – The track has not updated the points as of this writing, but if my estimates are correct, this should be our current position in the championship point standings.

1/8 – The amount in inches of dirt that was in the 2nd and 3rd groove of the track. Memorial Day weekend was the monster truck extravaganza and I don’t think they did a very good job of getting the track cleaned up. That and the addition of a “drifting” exhibition which of course left copious amounts of rubber all over the place. The real stinker is that Scott said he felt the car would have been pretty good up in the 2nd groove had the track condition not been more suited to 420 sprinters at Skagit instead of Asphalt late models.

3 – As in Turn 3… the turn that Scott was returning to the track in after another short grass mowing session (3 wide just doesn’t work out there… lol) When a car spun directly in front of him, causing us to have to Frankenstein the left front fender back together for this week’s race. I gotta tell ya, the hot rod came out of that pretty good all things considered. The hood is fine, bumper is good and the fender will pass for now with some tin, rivets and stickers. Just don’t look too close at the autograph session this week!

Over all, even though we didn’t get that first top 5 this week, we were all pretty thrilled about the day’s progress. We had a top 5 car easily, now we need to build on it and see this through to a successful season with the goals of a top 5 race finish and top 10 points finish as the carrot on the end of the stick. I’ve determined that the Hot Rod is not just a good old car… it’s a GREAT old car with a lot of fast times ahead of it… As for the driver, well watching him race this weekend tells me that the rust is now completely shaken off and he is ready to go out there and show them all that we aren’t there to pedal around… we are there to try to win!

P.S. I want to put a special shout out to our large and voiciferous cheering section. With most of Scott's family in the crowd, we all expected a good amount of cheering, but the noise wasnt just coming from the LaCross seating area! Harrison said he could hear you all cheering all the way down in our pits in the middle of turns 3 & 4 on the 5/8ths. Thanks again for being our fans and being LOUD! You dont know how great it makes us all feel to know that you are rooting us on!