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 ...
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
... Oh my God. I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I think I could start having fun any minute now. We are going down to the Sandia Motorsports Park west of Albuquerque this weekend for a trial run. Southwest Motorsport is having a weekend racing event. We love this group. If all goes well Saturday, then it is just a few details and we are off.
We got another sponsor this week. It is so great. People are so generous. It is a company called Cyberwize. They sell nutritional supplements. They have given us tons of herbal energizers, protein bars, vitamins, T-shirts and hats we could need. I love this stuff!!
Tonight we are reinstalling the front suspension we took out two days ago. We thought it would handle better without it. We were wrong.
Got to go.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
It is Saturday, and I need to find a way to relax. All in all, everything is still good. We just got another e-mail from the race headquarters, and they have just added another thing we are responsible for -- the driving of the chase team. We get these e-mails about every day or every other day, and they are usually a list of things we are responsible for or we will be disqualified with no refund. I believe that is their mantra -- "disqualified with no refund."
I guess there have been too many pedestrian deaths because the chase cars have been too enthusiastic. They are now holding the race cars responsible for the driving of the chase teams. If they do anything wrong, we get time deducted or disqualified -- with no refund. As if we didn't have enough to worry about!!
Oh well, on another thought: Someday I want to write a book for women on how to deal with auto shops and car-part stores. I can't be held responsible for my actions if I hear another "Ma'am, do you know what you are doing?" or "Ma'am, do you know what that is for?" As if I can't figure out what engine paint is for! So, today I went to pick up two lenghts of Flex Hose, and the guy at Napa asked if I was doing some plumming. I politely replied, as I try to do, "NO, I AM WORKING ON MY CAR". Oh, the joys.
We were just given a copy Pink Floyd's video from when they ran the race in 1991 (guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason and manager Steve O'Rourke competed in the race). It makes all the work worthwhile. If you every have a opportunity to watch it, DO. It is fabulous!! The cinamatographer actually lives here. Maybe next year he can come with us, and we can have our own little movie. Or at least he can offer some experience.
I've got to go. I have a apple pie in the oven, and I need to finish covering the roll cage with padding. Go figure......
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Here we go. My first blog.
When I think about the time that is left, it is actually hard to breath. Sixteen days and counting. For this endeavor, I really believe there is no sense of being finished, or even ready -- we could probably leave tomorrow, or if we had another six months, we wouldn't be ready. I've never been involved in something like this. The list of to-do's is endless, the money is not, friendships are being tested, relationships stretched, sleepless nights, and we haven't even left yet ... and this is all in the name of fun.
No matter what I say, I can't wait to go. I can't wait to drive!!!!!
If I gauged how we are doing by my stress level, I would say we are screwed. In fact, we are doing well. The list of needs and HAVE-TO-DOs is getting manageable. We really only have two or three have-to's left. We have to mount the safety nets, get the front suspension to the right stiffness, and we have to get the tires (I have to remember to get the tires), and we have to mount and set the rally computer.
It isn't really a rally computer, but is works like enough of one. Do you know that rally computers are very expensive. They do a number of thing that help you along the way with speed, distance, timing and such -- and they can run into the thousands of dollars. We have learned that a certain cycling computer will do the same thing -- or close enough that it will do what we need -- but only cost an astounding $40. This is the learning curve, and it's steep.
I need to go help. Luca is calling. He is replacing the bushings, and I am the parts cleaner and extra set of hands.
I really wanted to thank the people who have helped with either money donations or with their time and expertise. Meeting these people along the way has made this experience so much more rich and enjoyable. It has really made such a difference to us.
There are still one big thing we do need. If anyone can loan or donate them it would be fabulous:
- We have an extra set of wheels, but we need four Sumitomo HTR 200 185/60HR13 tires.