I've been chewing on this one for a few days. Neck is still a big sore and my soul is a bit crushed. Indy was the greatest and the worst race at the same time for WUDU. Sorry for the wall of text, but its our story.
We left out of Birmingham Thursday morning and had a great trip. Our team chemistry is a bit like 4 brothers who constantly pick on each other...its pretty freaking amazing if ya ask me. We got to the hotel around 6pm and drank all the beers and ate at the pub across the street (Great pizza BTW). On our walk back we found some more teams in the parking lot and talked it up for a bit. Ended up in the courtyard throwing bean bags at boards for a while until the cooler was empty, then headed for bed.
We woke up early on Friday morning in an attempt to beat the crowd to the staging lot, which we did. We watched 2017 SCCA vids for a while until other teams started pulling in and we wander the parking lot chatting with everyone we recognized. Got to meet @David Haines and @Rapido for the first time which was cool after getting stomped by both of them regularly in iRacing. Once the line started forming for parking passes we met the RVA guys who are really cool and chatted with them for a few until the moment arrived. We got our passes and headed for INDY! Pulling into Indy was awesome, the tunnel reminded me of Daytona but seeing the museum as you pull in and the stands being so close...freaking awesome. We headed for the garages and unloaded as fast as we could. Jack took the car to tech while Paul got all our gear tech'd. Myself and Hank got the trailer parked and we felt like we had won already. Our renter showed up a little later, we got Fifi though tech, and we started prepping to get our stuff to our pit stall. It was then, I got a text message "Jack Down", then another text message "In the pits". Didn't think much of it, then Paul comes riding back and tells us Jack went over the handlebars on his bike after the chain slipped and gashed his head pretty bad. We all run down and find Jack sitting on pit lane with blood all over. Our renter's wife, took him to the doc to get put back together and we headed out for lunch. Then we get the text from Jack that says the doctor doesn't want him to drive this weekend. This was a bummer. Come to find out, he had sprained his wrist as well as a nice 4 inch gash on his head. After lunch, we get back and got in the line for gas. This took about an hour or so...borderline mess it seemed, but we got though it. Got our picture on the bricks (Thanks Champcar) and headed out to dinner.
Woke up Saturday about the same time as Friday. Get the car to pit lane, head to drivers meeting. Was cool hearing everyone sing the national anthem. Driver lineup for the day was myself, our renter Chad, Hank, Paul, then our renter again since Jack couldn't drive. I got dressed and started thinking good thoughts. Got belted into the car, got the cool shirt going and headed out for our pace laps. Only the second time I've started a race since my first Champcar race in 2017 at VIR24. Did our first lap and a gap had developed between the car in front of us and the car in front of them. About the time I noticed "GREEN GREEN GREEN" comes pumping though the radio and its on. I got caught behind a slower car and got passed by what I thought was everyone. Got settled and started trying to make up spots. So much traffic..so many cars. After maybe 6 laps I come out of turn 8 and the car starts to cut out. I make it back to pits and we start going though everything. About 7 mins in and we find it, our ECU fuse wire had pulled out of the fuse holder. Re crimp and bam, Fifi is back to running. I came into the pits in 60th, I went back out in 80th. I had a fun time running with a lot of cars. Had fun with the TWOth guys, had fun with the @Team Infiniti for about half a lap until we hit the front straight. A few aggressive drivers, but nothing really dumb outside of the one driver in the supra who may have not have seen me at his right quarter. I got passed under yellow about 20 times it seemed like. Turn 11 was the worst, the black flag station wasn't holding yellow and people were not looking for or couldn't see the turn 12 station. Got to run with Chris in the @Burningham machine for a few laps and actually ran him down on the front straight. I had a blast in the first stint and got one good clean lap in the 2:05's and of course it was then I get the box call in the radio. Bring in the car, hand it off to our renter, and the day continued.
Fifi was running great it seemed. She'd get a bit hotter than we liked, but turn on the cooling fan and she'd get right back down to what we would expect for a 90*F day. We had already discussed treating Indy as nothing but fun. We saw the competition we were up against. With all the Rbank cars, burningham, Jacky Ickx's, Premium Dudes, R3R, Mostmint....we knew it would be tough to crack the top. After our ECU fuse, I was hoping for a top 30...maybe top 20 finish. It was starting to look like that. Stint after stint we kept creeping up the order, about 20 positions a stint if not more. We were nailing pit stops, all right at 5 mins from pit in to pit out. In the 4th stint, our rental driver asked if I wanted to take the last stint. I said we could flip for it, so we did and I won 3 times. So I go get my stuff and get ready to get strapped in.
Car comes in the pits in 19th place, I get in ready for what I refer to as the longest stint of the day. Closing always takes forever it seems. I go out and start getting a feel for the car again. Traffic felt much lighter and the track felt a bit greasier but manageable. With a little more than an hour left, I start my turn into 6a onto the back straight. Fifi starts what feels like a light slide, so I put in some countersteer. Fifi then makes a loud thud and the car goes up on its side. It was right about then that I thought the car was going on the roof...but somehow it didn't. The car then pivoted around 180 degrees and came back down and slid to a stop on the left side of the track. I then see one of my wheels roll past me into the wall. Turned the car off, hit the kill switch and radio'd into the pits that something broke and the car almost rolled. It was also about then I found out my rear door had come off. Halo seat had done its job, I don't know if I'll ride in a race car without a halo seat from now on. Dropped the net and gave a thumbs up to the corner worker and waited for safety crew. Safety showed up, asked if I was ok, which I was. When they finally let me out of the car, I got my first look at Fifi and she was a mess. Left rear wheel was gone (come to find out the left axle snapped and jammed the wheel into the rear wheel well causing the car to go up on its side). The right side of the car didn't look any better. Both right side wheels were shattered. I was still a bit in shock when they put me in the ambulance. Got to take a ride to the med center and hang out with the doc and two hot nurses. Jack had ridden over and was waiting on me. The doc made me stay until my blood pressure came down (said it was really, really, really high). The @Burningham guys came back to check on me, as well as Chiz.
When they let me out and I got to see Fifi back at the garage I was heartbroken. I cant imagine I was fun to be around, but I sucked it up as much as I could and we got Fifi rolling enough to put her in the garage and go to dinner. I drank all the beers and a few bourbons at dinner. Really bummed out about everything, not crossing start/finish and knowing that tomorrow we wouldn't be racing. I woke up the next day with a sore neck/back and we loaded up and headed out.
Big thanks to all the Champcar guys who made Indy possible. Amazing track. Was fun seeing all the usual suspects at the track, talking smack and meeting all the new guys. Very bittersweet event for us. Not sure what we are going to do next. Not even sure if Fifi is rebuild-able in her current state. She is currently in the trailer until we can figure out what we are going to do. Still unsure why the axle failed, less than a year old with only maybe 4 or 5 races on them and a few track days.
Congrats to the Podiums finishers both days, Really happy for the @Burninghamguys! WTG!!!
AND to the genius walking down pit lane with a cigarette in hand right next to 200 Gallons of gas, you're an idiot and that is why I called you one.
If you look ahead to 6a, you can just catch my car going up on its side for a split second.