The beginning of a racing season is like the dawn of a new day – filled to the brim with excitement and hope of great things to come. It’s a slate wiped clean, rife with the anticipation of possibilities, dreams and goals.
While numerous tracks around the country are still covered with snow, the action is already beginning to get underway in the warmer climates. That's always the best. I can distinctly remember living in Buffalo, New York, being knee deep in winter, and staying glued to the racing websites with envy as many drivers began to make their first passes down the quarter mile.
When one racing season ends, it always seems like forever until the next season starts… However, each year, we draft more than enough plans and lists for work to be done to the motorhome, trailer, Stocker and Superstocker. That tends to keep us very busy in the off-season. Yet, no matter how far off the "next season" is, the time between goes by quickly and it always seems as if we're scrambling to get everything done in time for the opening race.
After being cramped into in an apartment for nine months while building a house and a shop, we finally moved in over Christmas. Even after moving so many times, it always amazes me how much work it is. Each time we move, there seems to be more “stuff” we drag along with us. This time, the moving truck was filled to the top, with much of it being racing parts and pieces.
And, as if we didn’t have enough going on with the move, my husband and Crew Chief, Bill, decided this was the year for a lot of preventative maintenance on the car. The plan would've worked smoothly, however after stripping the car down to a bare shell, the shop floor had to be redone and the Stocker had to sit in the trailer for almost a month while repairs were being made. This, of course, set us back a bit.
As part of Bill's maintenance plan, brakes, shocks and transmission were sent off to be inspected and rebuilt. As new gears were being installed in the rear end, the inner pinion bearing fell apart. Proof why we do preventative maintenance, as it’s better to find these things while the car is in the shop on jack stands instead of heading down the quarter mile. Additionally, the engine was freshened and dyno'd, wiring came out of the car and a complete, new wiring system was installed.
To continue the madness, a week before the opening race, forty yards of crushed concrete was delivered in front of our shop. This was to ensure the motorhome and trailer would be able to get through the mud that forms in front of the shop, during heavy Texas rains. With Bill at work, I was concerned the concrete wasn’t going to be spread in time to get the motorhome out for opening day. Taking matters into my own hands, I began shoveling. Seeing what was going on, one of our wonderful neighbors came over and told me: “Put down that darn shovel, I’ll be by with my tractor in a few minutes." Thankfully, he was able to spread the crushed concrete in no time, so there will be no worries getting the motorhome and trailer out of the shop.
And finally, last but not least, the shop has been wired… Bill can now work late into the evenings finishing the car. But, it'll still be down to the wire (pun intended!) getting the car ready to go. So, unfortunately, there will be little or no time for me to spend hitting lights on the practice tree.
With so many changes to the car, we are praying for a warm, sunny day to test. For the drivers there's always anxiety the first few passes down the track in a new season. And, with Bill doing all the assembly and maintenance, he is anxious as well. For him, that anxiety persists until the car has a few successful passes down the quarter mile under its belt. After all – the love of his life is driving what he has put together!
Now, after all of the hard work and months off, it’s that time again. Time to get strapped in, put the helmet on and get ready for that familiar first launch of a new season.
I'm excited for the season, and I invite you to follow me on The BLOCK as I'll go in depth and discuss some more of the technical aspects of our between-season regimen, as well as many other racing and technical elements, throughout the season.