Walking to the far end of the western loop of the Buttonwillow circuit, towards the sweeping Star Mazda corner, I turned in time to look back to turn 1, Sunset, only to see Margo straight-lining into the infield a huge cloud of dust rising all around her. I had walked past the Esses so as to get a better shot of her driving through them, but watching her kicking up a dust storm stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t even have time to snap a picture! Little drama eventuated as Margo slowed the car, brought it around to where she could rejoin the circuit, and looked for a favorable sign from the corner worker.
After leaving Margo without a ride on three separate occasions this year, we registered for a Saturday’s outing with the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) Southern California (SoCal) region in their High Performance Driver Education (HPDE) program – and rejoined longtime friends for only the third event this year. Having done so, I felt it is only right that most of the seat time should be given to Margo although, I was hopeful that she would, at some point, appreciate my plight and offer me the big Vette for one session. But when it came time to join the first session, Margo was all smiles and I should have known better. This was going to be her day on the track and the picture above is of her already on the grid, about to head out onto the track.
This year I had cooked the power steering fluid that had finally led to the serpentine belt braking at Willow Springs. I had worn out the brakes at Laguna Seca, and then in the return visit to Willow Springs I had shredded the tires to where there was nothing left. What a guy! So with near-new, slightly oversize, Michelin Pilot Sport street tires on the Vette, and everything checking out just fine, this would be a good opportunity for me to act as crew chief and to sit back and watch Margo enjoy herself. Yeah, but I wasn’t too upset, not in the slightest, and all the while I held onto a ray of hope for just a one session! On the other hand, being the crew chief provided me with opportunities to snap away with the trusty Nikon -a surprising first for us as we had completely ignored taking the camera with us for the past three years!
Just as Terry had competed in the NASA Nationals, so too had Fulton. We have known Fulton for several years and I have enjoyed every time he has offered me a ride in the passenger seat of his car, whether a Mustang or a BMW, whatever he was driving on the occasion. At the Nationals, Fulton had gone one better than Terry and driving a BMW M3 in the Time Trial – D (TT D) group, picked up the win. Not giving up completely, as I wanted to make sure I could step into the Vette should Margo ask me, I asked Fulton if he would mind me joining the third session. “I would suggest we have you go out with me in the first session, as a passenger, to get you the lay of the land and then take Margo's place in the second session before the group gets up to speed so you are not a rolling chicane (with all that horsepower) as the group picks up speed in the 3rd session,” was the almost immediate response from Fulton! The picture above, however, was taken later in the day and shows Margo negotiating the esses at speed!
I have to admit that the big off a few laps earlier was the result of what we had discussed only an hour earlier. Coming in from the circuit after the third session where she had spent time giving the cars behind her point-bys, she agreed to see if spending less time looking in the mirror and more time working on her lines through the turns could lift her speed onto some of the shorter straights, and so open up some separation between her and the much slower cars that had been catching her all day. The opening laps of the final session certainly seemed to suggest that this was exactly what she was capable of doing and in a relative short period of time, there were several car lengths between her and the cars that started with her. The picture above is of Margo pulling hard down the main straight with prospects of even more improvements to come!