Monday, November 12, 2007

The dreams

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

The aftermath

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

Home at last

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.