WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT ITI’m running while watchingthree SRF3s spin into eachother, bodywork airborne.
I don’t recall getting on thetow truck, but this time I’mone of the first. John alreadyhas the truck in gear andwe’re rolling within seconds.
We’re through the infieldbefore my gloves are on. I don’tremember strapping my helmet,but I check, and it is fastened.
The last 15 seconds were a blur.
Close behind is not only BigBubba but also Tow 2 – who’sdriving that? Come to think ofit, who’s on this truck? I glanceto see Jordan in the other jumpseat and Sarah at the boom.
Perhaps Steven is driving theother truck. But where is his baby,and is anyone with Steven?
John positions his tow truckto shield us from oncomingracecars, and I find myself amidsta sea of racecar parts. My bootcrunches a portion of a wheel;
a busted fiberglass clamshellsits 10 feet away. I scan for thedamaged racecars to find twoof the three drivers alreadystanding; the third had his bellrung, for sure. The ambulanceis now on the scene, and he’sawake, so I take to collecting partswhile the race is black-flagged.
I turn to find Race Chair MarkSmith on site, rapidly tossing partsin the back of his pickup. John,Sarah, and Jordan have alreadylifted one car and are racing to thepaddock while Steven and MikeLawler – a Cal Club Region Stewardwho Steven had recruited as theincident was happening – runstraps onto a second car. I’m pilingbusted parts onto Big Bubba andMark’s truck as Sara’s team racesback for the third car. Minuteslater, I’m in Big Bubba headingto the pits. Incidentally, it’s thesame seat I rode in when myracecar caught fire here all thoseyears ago. In Big Bubba’s frontpassenger seat, a Spec Racerdriver is making similar memories.
John, Sarah, Jordan, and I spendthe next hour shuffling damagedSpec Racers from a makeshiftbone yard near impound to theirpaddock spaces. Sarah’s operatingthe boom, but after helping usstrap the first car, Sarah saysthat’s now Jordan’s and my job.
In the paddock, Sarah jumpsfrom the tow truck and helpsdirect John. For the next SpecRacer, she tells me, that’ll be me.
I quickly see how similar Sarah
(Clockwise from TOP LEF T) Helping a racing friend in needoffers a thrill all its own. Steven Hobbs asks me to assist thisstranded Spec Miata racer. Sunday’s big SRF3 crash involvesparts everywhere. The safety crew works together to loadloose racecar parts in every available vehicle. The driverof one of the SRF3s involved in Sunday’s big incident ridesshotgun in Big Bubba while I sit in the same seat I rode inmany years ago as a racer. Sarah Hobbs makes quick workof lifting damaged Spec Racers. Sarah and Jordan loadSRF3 parts on Tow 1 before rushing back to the paddock.
and Steven are – their teachingmethod for noobs is identical,and, at least for me, perfect.
Delivering the final SRF3 toits paddock space, a racer comesover, handing us waters and tellingus how grateful he is. Turns out,he’s not one of the SRF3 racers atall – the Emergency Services crewhad recovered him several eventsearlier and he’s still thankful.
The praise keeps coming fromdrivers and crew in the paddock aswe pass by. “I feel like such a poser,”I say to Sarah as John drives usback to pit-in where we will, forthe second time, put the straps intheir appropriate compartments.
“For what?” she asks.
“You just did everything
they’re thanking you for.”
We return to pit-in to find
Steven heading off to collect his
daughter from a nearby RV. It turns
out that not only had he recruited
a worker to help on Tow 2, but
he’d also found someone to
watch his child. All in seconds.
Back at my pickup, the raceweekend concluded, I find dirt,grease, and grime splatteringmy once new RaceQuip jacketand pants. As I place it back inthe duffel, I realize it looks moreworn than my other race suitdoes after five seasons behindthe wheel. But it took the abuseand kept me safe. After a wash,it’ll be back to normal. Mostly.
It turns out, there’s one smallstain, probably imperceptibleto most, that persisted. Butthat’s OK, because I’m proud ofthe story that mark tells.