46 SEPTEMBER 2020 scca.comFEATURE
We’re mid conversation, then wearen’t. Steven says, “Come on,”and I grab my helmet in time torealize I’m the last one not on thetruck. Note to self: more hustle.
Turns out, this is a simple call:Someone has driven off on PhilHill. A high-speed, tricky, blindcrest of a turn, Phil Hill is all aboutsetup; get it wrong and the racecarwill pinball off the track and backon, dragging copious amounts ofdirt. Our job is to sweep that dirt.
Tow 1 and Big Bubba roll,while Steven and I jump into apickup that’s not only equippedwith a fire hose and water supplybut also plenty of brooms.
We wait for the last racecarsto enter the pits, then the caravanof Emergency Services vehiclesdive across the track heading forPhil Hill. Five of us, brooms in hand,make short work of the job and,before you know it, we’re backin our vehicles heading to pit-in,ready for the next call. There’s noteven a time delay for Group 2.
Leaving the scene, I turn toSteven and say, “Well, I feel reallybad now.” “Why?” he responds.“I probably dip two tires there atleast once a weekend,” I admit.
I doubt I drag that much dirtonto the surface, but still.
“Don’t worry,” he replies, “most
of the time the other cars clear the
dirt for us. It’s just when it happens
toward the end of a session.”
My mind wanders, trying
desperately to remember when
my offs mostly occur, because now
the racer in me feels like a jerk.
LEARNING THE ROPES
The next call involves nobrooms. A street car duringthe Track Event session hasrolled to a stop in front of a flagstation – and this time when theradio squawks, I’m moving fast.
We depart for the track within
seconds, John in the driver’s seat,
Steven riding boom, and Jordan
and I in the side-mounted jump
seats. John sets the tow truck
perpendicular to the track, waits
and FVs near the green. I notice
John is already in the tow truck
driver’s seat, the truck idling.
Nothing happens. AfterGroup 2 comes and goes,we’re all settling in.
Group 3 involves a number ofmy racing buddies, and I’m gettingquite engrossed in the race. Thenone of my friends running STL,Morgan Trotter, doesn’t comearound again. So, when the callcomes in, I know exactly whodispatch is talking about whenthey say, “White 61.” What noneof us know is what it means.
At the scene, Morgan’s issueis a head scratcher for me. Asubframe failure has snappedjust about every suspensioncomponent on the front rightof White 61, and the car sitsunmovable. Steven speaks withMorgan to assess the situation,then turns to Jordan and me: “Youguys are doing this one,” he says.
Next to the brooms on the towtruck sits a long metal beam called,as far as I know, a lifting beam.
Steven runs straps through theWhite 61’s wheels while Jordanaffixes the beam to Tow 1’s boom.
We attach the straps to the endsof the beam, and with a flick ofthe wrist, Steven raises the frontof Morgan’s car. Soon thereafter,we’re heading to the safety ofthe pits with White 61 in tow.
A LAZY SUNDAY
Steven, it turns out, is a greatteacher. He handily showsus what to do yet is equallyas quick to delegate. He also
ON THE JOB TRAINING
(Clock wise from TOP LEFT) On the firetruck, multiple types of fire extinguishersare positioned for quick access. StevenHobbs explains what each tool in BigBubba is for, including the well-dentedbaseball bat. The safety crew offers P1racer Jim Devenport rapid assistance. Ourfirst tow of the weekend involves a TrackEvent car stopped in a dangerous zone.
for the signal, then guns it intothe infield. We fly over the trackat an astounding pace, clearingthe immediate danger zone ofa hot track and heading to therescue – another danger zone. Wediscover the Track Event car hasa tow hook, so Steven waits fortraffic to clear, hooks the car, andJohn quickly pulls us to safety.
The third call comes a fewgroups later, and we don’t missa beat. We’re not a well-oiledmachine, but there’s improvement.
This time, it’s a Prototype 1car that I recognize as JimDevenport’s, and it’s stoppedon the outside of Turn 1. It’s aneasy extraction since the car’sbackwards near pit-out. Steventurns to Jordan and asks if hewants to help strap this one.
The difference betweenpractice and qualifying sessionsis minimal when you’re workingEmergency Services. But races,Steven notes, are different. “Weall stand up for race starts,” hesays as a field of SRF3s, FFs,