Friday, March 21, 2008
I think this is obvious to everyone who had tried to read a new blog from me in the last few months, I am a terrible blogger. Time gets away from me so easily. I am sorry.
The Mouse, the fiat, has been tucked away in the garage quietly resting after the Carrera race. We gave it and ourselves a rest from racing and repairing cars for a while.
We needed a break to be able to decide if we will race again this year of wait a year and race the Carrera again in 2009. With much debate we have decided to wait until 2009 to race the Carrera again. We will use this year to get sponsors, tweak the car in ways that will help us in 2009, and in general we relax and run races in our car club SWMS in Albuquerque. With any luck we will do other things like white water rafting, visiting family, and maybe even a vacation.
We will keep you posted with our plans and dates to race in the 2009 Carrera. We will need to get the ball rolling again by August or September for 2009.
We are just now starting to get the car ready to run a weekend race in Albuquerque. Neither of us have been in it since the Carrera. I can't wait to race it again. I love this car!
Thanks again for all your support and I promise I will keep you posted on our progress.
Monday, November 12, 2007
We have been home for just a little over a week, and the dreams keep coming. Last night it was about time cards. Luca had a better dream: We were in the Fiat running Le Mans.
The adjustment back has been a little awkward. So much time has been spent planning and preparing for the race that it's odd to have it be over. As I look back, I am very happy with our little car: It did very well. If you could see it now, it is a little beaten up and badly in need of a wash.
Throughout the race we only ran into minor problems. The first was: In the craziness of leaving, we forgot one box of spare parts. So we ran the whole race on one set of everything. Yep, one set of everything. The last two days, Luca worked hard to manage the last millimeter of brake pads we had left. He is a great driver.
In the 'forgotten box' was also an extra pressure plate. We had fitted a new one in the car and expected it would work well. No such luck!! In fact, all of the parts we had trouble with were the new ones. In Mexico, we learned that there were no new parts available for our car.
Anyway, Luca spend every night adjusting the pressure plate. Then to make it worse, one morning as we were heading out to start the day the oil-gauge pressure hose blew. We just had a shop make it two days before leaving and it was supposedly rated to 200psi, but it couldn't even handle 70psi!
So, 30 minutes before we were supposed to be at the starting line, we were bathing in oil. You could hardly see the car for all the smoke. It got fixed as best as possible in the time we had, but oil got into the clutch. It slipped and slipped and slipped. Luca could barely accelerate without it slipping. The morning drive was very frustrating, and we barely made it up some of the hills. We were able to remedy the problem somewhat during lunch break using a can of brake cleaner and further pressure-plate adjustment. From then on, it only slipped from time to time.
Other problems were: a burned distributor rotor (new part of poor quality) and a broken alternator-cable connector (caught in time). There were numerous toe-in adjustments due to involuntary suspension lowering, the effect of potholes and topes and topes and topes (huge, random and unregulated speed humps that would just pop up out of nowhere)! The water pump (new racing pump!) started leaking on the sixth day, so we had to carry a bit of extra water; we were all three very thirsty.
The exhaust header cracked quite a bit but held on. The engine ran great, even with occasional 9000 rpm excursions when the clutch was slipping; I guess Luca did a good job putting it together. The little car proved to be quite tough, and I am very proud of it.
Many racers made us promise we would race again in the Fiat; we said we would. We had such an amazing time, it would be hard to imagine not returning to race again.
We will definitely race the Carrera again, hopefully next year.
We could not have done it this year without the generous sponsorship we received from our family, Tuesday Car Table here in Santa Fe, Cyberwize, Data Devices International and Preventive Medicine Center. Luca and I thank you for your support.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
We have been back a couple of days now, and I still few like I could sleep for a week. I feel like I have Carrera PTSD. I still wake up in the middle of the night in a panic thinking I have to be in the car driving somewhere. I keep having dreams that the car broke or that I have just watched someone else drive off the mountain. Then I realize all is good and I just need a massage and a hot tub.
As the days go by and the photos come in, it's the people we met that stick with me. The cars are beautiful — don't get me wrong — but the people were amazing. I feel that these kinds of intense situations bring out people's true nature, and 90 percent of these people were the best of the best. The kindness, generosity and their ability to see the fun in the midst of chaos was truly inspiring.
I have learned that other Carrera racers have blogs with great stories and photos so, as it takes me a while to update everything, please enjoy the other blogs:
Gary - You are one of the people I am talking about. Thanks so much for writing what you did. Talk about getting choked up. You're the best!!!!
Monday, November 5, 2007
We made it home. This has been the trip of a lifetime. The stories are endless — every person on every day had incredible stories. Over time, I will do my best to tell some of them.
I am sooooo glad it is only a seven-day race. We could have done another day. We ran every day on about five hours sleep, one meal a day and a pace that was brutal. All that aside, we are so pleased with the car: It was the hit of the race. We started the race dead last - based on engine size — and we finished 59th out of 100 cars that started the race. This is a great thing!!!!
The car closest to us was almost twice our size. The average engine size was about five times ours (we have 65 horsepower). We were the joke of the race at the beginning. No one could believe we were in the race. The one positive thing at the beginning was the head of the organization approached and told us that a Fiat Abarth had never been in the Carrera before, and it was his favorite car in the race. He made us promise we would not hurt the car.
By the end of the race, people wanted to buy the car. Everyone was in love with it. No one could believe how well it handled in the mountains and how fast it could go. It was crazy: We would pass Porsche 911s, Jaguars, Volvos. One day we placed 41st.
It was so much fun. It is hard to tell at the time though — between the lack of sleep, lack of food, overabundance of adrenaline and a total mob mentality — we just called it fun...and it was!!!!
I promise I will tell more stories. The crashes, the police, the broken bones — I will try to tell most of them, the good ones at least (no one died this year).
Thanks you all for your support and interest in us and the race. It has meant so much to Luca and I.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
OH my god, this is insane.
I have just found 5 minutes, a computer and access to the Internet all at the same time.
Things are going great. We started dead last, engine size and all, but by the end of the first day we moved up to 71st. Luca is driving so well.
It is so crazy here, all in a good way. The schedule is nonstop, really. We get a few hours sleep and might get one meal a day.
The cars are amazing!!!!!! So many different kinds, so many different classes.
There were 10 crashes the first day. I´m not sure about today yet. Drivers have broken bones, nothing more. There are a few cars totaled.
People are shocked at how well our car does and how well we are driving. Pat on the back or not, Luca and I both think we are doing really well. The next engine closest to us is over twice the size, and we fly by them on the speed stages.
You can track all the cars by the GPS tacking system they have put in all the cars. Go to panamericana.waypointinfo.com.
Sorry for the broken sentences and bad spelling ... it's all a blur now. Got to run.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Well, we actually made it out of our garage!!! It is hard to believe. Really it is. We have spent so long preparing it still feels a little like the twilight zone to actually be on the road.
What is also very exciting is to be here in Laredo with a bunch of other cars. About 30 cars from the U.S., Canada and other parts of the world are meeting here to cross the border together and convoy together down to the start of the race. This means that we are here with other crazy people. We have spent so much time on this as a goal of ours, in our own very little world. It is very cool to be among others who have also spent the last year alone in their own process. To be together, sharing car stories, fears ... It is indescribable. It is great. I think I am finally getting excited.
Luca, David and Dario are out running last-minute errands. We needed new cables for our rally computer; for some reason our cables were no good. We need a new tow mount, I have no idea why. We, for some reason, forgot batteries. You know the list of things we forgot ... endless.
Got to go. We have a meeting we all need to be at. Very important meeting: beer, BBQ and how to not get stopped by the Mexican police as we all cross the border tomorrow.
Like I have said before, I will do my best to blog once we cross the border.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Well, it all comes down to this. We have all that we have and have done all we can do.
Two days ago, we go a 3-page list of all the things we need for the race car, the chase car, the trailer and for our personal needs. And it really is too late to do anything about it. I don't know about you, but I can't help thinking they did this as a joke. If not, it is just stupid and mean to give this to us at the last possible minute.
Today I went to the auto-parts store 7 times, I went to my office and actually worked, I took photos, washed and waxed the car — it has to look good in the "before" photos. Then I went to the grocery store twice and then the bank (to get all of our money converted into small bills ... we have been strongly warned to have bribe money very handy and in small bills). I guess the point is, I feel a little crazy. Like a snowball with way too much momentum.
Either way, we are all loading into the chase car tomorrow (with the Fiat on the trailer and everything we hope we need packed in every nook we can find), and it all changes: I can no longer go to the parts store or reorganize any more!!!!!
As I look back on the last few months and all the craziness and all the endless things I can worry and complain about, there are two things that stand out. One is how much I enjoy driving this crazy little car. Second, and more important, is how great some of the people have been along the way.
I have been suprised almost daily by people's interest and generosity. It truly has been such a surprising, amazing and wonderful element of this whole process. When this is over, all the ridiculous and frustrating people I have run across in the process (see the last-minute letter above) — them I will easily forget. But the people who have reached out and supported us, in whatever way they could, them I will remember!!!
I really don't mean to complain: It's just that there are so many stressful things to do and decisions to have made. I can only hope that we did the best we could with what we knew along the way. Everything now hinges on how well we did in the planning, the preparation of the car and all we did trying to figure for the worst as we steadfastly hoped for the best. But that is all behind us now: I can't wait to get on the road and start the next stage of this race.
Wish us luck.
I will do my best to post updates along the way. If I am unable, I will make sure catch up with all of you when we get home. Again, wish us luck. And watch this space. Fingers crossed ...