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Team Pony Express survives Hellowine 2010

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Team Pony Express had a FANTASTIC weekend racing at Portland International Raceway. Out of a field of 71 cars, we came in 36th place in Saturday's 12-hour race, and 17th on Sunday's 6-hour race. Not a bad achievement for seven guys who have never raced anything bigger than go-kart until this weekend - nor for the 1991 Ford Escort Pony that we turned into a race car over the summer. My biggest fears were that someone would get hurt, or that the car would break before everyone got to drive it, but none of that happened - we all went home healthy, and although the car took a beating, it never let us down.

We started off with eight bonus laps for theme - we dressed up the car like a priority shipping box, complete with bar codes and a stamp, and wore Team Pony Express t-shirts during the technical inspection. We then got five more bonus laps for having over $100 of food donations. Two hours into the race, our team was in 10th place, and I'm sure that's largely due to the bonus laps.

/>http://chumpcarworldseries.blogspot.com/2010/10/2-hours.html - that's us in 10th place!

As you might expect from finishing smack in the middle of the pack, we had faster cars passing us periodically, and we passed other cars on a regular basis, and we had several very close competitors. That all made for a GREAT racing experience. We passed slower cars, we got passed by faster cars, we followed equal cars until they made a mistake that let us get around them, and we watched them slip past us every time we made mistakes of our own.

Every time I got out of the car at the end of my driving shift I couldn't shut up about how much fun I'd been having out there. And I was usually shouting because my ears had shut off due to all the noise on the track... our car had a tendency to make loud crackle and pop noises when decelerating, but that just made it feel like a RACE CAR, not just a 91 Escort with a roll cage and a fancy seat.

At one point, I got t-boned by someone who thought they could steal the inside line from me on a tight turn, but who didn't have the braking power to pull that off. This put a couple dents in our car but did no real harm. Later, at the same turn, the roles were reversed, and one of us - let's call him Captain Crunch - did the same thing to an Audi that was two spaces away from us in the pits. Unfortunately he did some real damage to their car. We apologized by hauling our arc-welder over to their car, along with a generator to run it. To our great relief, they were able to get back onto the track and they finished both races.

Dontbecreepy took these photos of the Audi damage and repair..



Late Saturday, near the end of my second 45-minute driving shift, I really misjudged the last corner before the straightaway, went completely off the track, slid helplessly over wet grass, and went face-first into a wall of tires. I radioed into the pits, "Sorry guys, I just put the car into the wall. I broke the car. Sorry." I expected to sit there until the tow truck showed up, but the corner worker was motioning at me to back out of the wall. So I restarted the car and backed up. It drove OK in reverse, so I tried forward and that worked too. I limped across the track and into the pits, where my team looked over the car and asked "which side did you hit?"

I really should have changed my story at that point... oh, nothing, that must have been someone else on our radio channel... There was no significant damage, and my shift was almost over, so our next driver got in. 45 minutes later, we finished 36th out of 71 cars, after 12 hours of racing.

We beat some dents out of the car Saturday night, adjusted the toe-in up front, and raced hard all day Sunday. We'd been driving on a wet track almost all day Saturday, and everyone on my team loved racing on the dry track Sunday. Quoth my Captain Crunch, "Wow. That was what I came here for. That was soooo much fun!" The car was much happier too, and we finished 17th that day.

Nobody got hurt.

Everybody got the full three tours of driving duty that they'd been looking forward to.

That's a success!

The car needs some love, but we'll bring it back in April 2011.


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Guest Tracer-X

I was a driver on this team and had an amazing time out there racing. 3 years ago I would have never thought that I could be involved in something like this. I am personally thankful for John and his crew making the racing series so that people with small checkbooks and now sponsorships could go and do something HUGE. We started building the car in my garage shortly after the October race took place in PDX last year. Just building the car was fun. Racing it with 70 other people took it to a whole new level. FYI, I have a appointment with my dentist because the smile that goes from ear to ear, well, it hasn't gone away and will likely need to be surgically removed. I find myself bring it up in almost every conversation that I am in.

Our team is looking forward to racing more next year and taking it to the next level by buying stickier tires, lol.

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"Every time I got out of the car at the end of my driving shift I couldn't shut up about how much fun I'd been having out there. And I was usually shouting because my ears had shut off due to all the noise on the track."

Amen! I was doing the same thing in our pits. Detailing war stories about going 4-wide between 7 and the back straight, about how stupid I was to spin in the chicane, etc. Adrenalin, plus loud exhaust, equals a loud excited chump.

Looks like you guys had a pretty successful, and very fun time. I look forward to racing with you guys again in April!

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I'm still on a high from last weekend. What great fun! I've been watching the video from my first stint, and I'm alternating between "that was soooo cool," "I totally could've pulled off that pass there," and "whoah there, take it easy!" In other words, it feels like I'm watching the video from somebody who's in his first real race, in the rain, and is trying to get acquainted with driving a track he's only seen on YouTube...

I can't believe how well our little Escort performed, and I can't wait to be back at PIR with the rest of you chumps in April for another go at it!

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You guys and the car did great! I was surprised by it's performance, and the finish on Sunday shows it has what it takes to be near the top. If you guys spread out your stints so you don't have to pit as often it can make a rather surprising difference too.

See you out the next year!!!

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