NZ Update #8

NZ-Navigation Page

NZ-Original announcement (Sept. 2003)

NZ Update #1 - Preparation (Oct. 15, 2003)

NZ Update #2 - Shipping the cars (Oct. 24, 2003)

NZ Update #3 - The second container (Late November)

NZ Update #4 - A Small Glitch (December 8th)

NZ Update #5 - Cars in NZ and OK (January 9, 2004)

NZ Update #6 - Arrival in NZ (Jan. 24)

NZ Update #7 - After first race weekend (February 2)

NZ Update #8 - Levels Raceway-Timaru

NZ Update #8.5 - Touring Queenstown Area

NZ Update #9 - Teretonga Raceway in Invercargill

NZ Update #10 - Dunedin Street Race

NZ Epilogue - The Last Update (March 6, 2004)

Boy! Are we having some fun now? You bet! Two race weekends down and two to go. Pardon all the race talk for you non-racers. You'll just have to wade thru it. I' not doing a second Racing-for-Dummies edition.

It' Sunday evening and we both got thru another weekend with no problems. Well nothing we can't handle. The weather was better than the first event, but still far from perfect. As a result, Diane and I have become the official RMVR rainmeisters, having become quite acclimated to running in the wet. It's actually quite fun. Try it. You'll like it.

We both ran in the same group for this weekend's Timaru (Levels Raceway), namely a group they chose to call "“Formula Petite”. Well sure, we’re not exactly big old thumping F-5000 honkers, but couldn’t they have come up with something better than “Formula Petite”? Maybe Formula “Get Real”. Or “Formula Fun” or just “Single Seaters”. But “Formula Petite”???? Good grief. Anyway, this was basically Formula Fords, just a couple of Sports Racers (Diane’s Miller and Phil Shire’s Elva – no local Sports Racers) and then a couple of 2.0 liter winged Fords. No Formula Vees running in this series at all.

We got in some very nice dry practice on Friday to learn the course. It’s a nice little track, sort of an overgrown LaJunta, but with very nice pits (grass) and facilities. Not as complex as Second Creek. On Saturday it was basically dry for qualifying and racing, but with a little spitting. On Sunday, however, we awoke to heavy rain. It sort of dried out for our morning warm-up and qualifying sessions, but the first afternoon race was in full rain. Yours truly was 5th on the grid and finished about the same, the third FF. Sorry, I just don’t have the moxie to press the issue in the wet (with big spray) in corners that aren’t totally familiar to me and against drivers that I don’t know real well. But I lived to fight another day.

Diane was running very well until late in the race she had a big off track spin (it probably hydroplaned in a high speed corner), but she gathered it up after a 360 spin on the grass (no stinking four-wheels off rule in NZ!) and finished the race. Cool!

Finally, however, the second race this afternoon was on dry track. It was an inverted start “handicap” race (me at the back, Diane at the front). Kind of a cool system. The first four cars did their normal standing start. Diane got good start and gained the lead. Then they released four other groups of up to four cars each on delayed intervals. My group went out last, 35 seconds after the Diane’s first group. I got a great start, ran very well, passed a bunch, and finished just behind Diane. Wasn’t able to lap her, but she was only lapped by the two very fast 2.0 liter formula cars. Thus I finished first in the1.6 liter FFs for this handicapped race. Yeah!

The logistics of moving all six Denver race cars around has become quite interesting, if not totally confusing. Thankfully John Crawford is taking car of all of this. But there are times when even we don’t fully understand it. But as in all things Kiwi, “It’ll work out at the end of the day.” Anyway, to make things work out, we traded in our compact rental car for a neat little diesel van, a vehicle actually used by the rental agency for their airport shuttle. But they gave it up to us when said we needed something to pull a trailer.

So, we now have our two race cars on a nifty little single-axle, double-deck trailer provided by Crawford. Attached is a picture of Team Terrific – aka “Ma and Pa Kettle go to Invercargill”. As you can see, Elaine, Diane’s sister, is now racer trash just like us. Actually she prefers to be called a Pit Pixie, but that’s whole ‘nuther story.

At this last race we had use of Crawford’s big transport and awning for the other four Denver race cars, sort of like we had set up at Ruapuna. That big rig will return to Christchurch this evening and those four Denver cars, along with Larry Detrich’s Formula Super V, will be transferred to a container which will then be trucked to Invercargill for next weekend’s race. We’ll somehow “pit” out of the container and our 10 x 20 popup canopy (or “marque” as they call them down here) for the third Inercargill race. Sure hope the weather is drier. Otherwise it could be a real pain in the ass weekend.

Only Diane and I will then be taking take little Team Terrific rig with our two cars for the final Dunedin weekend. Got all that???? Don’t worry, be happy. It’ll all work out.

Diane, Elaine and I are now off to do some actual sightseeing. We’ve got four days to make a one day journey. So, we’re planning on going up to Mount Cook and the Queenstown area on our leisurely way to Invercargill. We’re all becoming accustomed to living out of our suitcases. In fact, it’s all starting to feel oddly normal.

Should be fun to spend the next for days just being tourists. Up to now we’ve been sort of consumed by getting stuff arranged, going to parties, getting acclimated, etc. Now we can relax a bit. Our race and travel luck has been great so far, with no real problems. The hard luck award so far has to go to Paul Morgan. First, he had to run off to Melbourne on business between the Ruapuna and Levels races, bought some rain tires while there, but had a hell of time getting them thru customs coming back. Then Friday he cut tire during practice, apparently running over his own exhaust silencer which fell off. Then he got temporarily sidelined by a leaky oil cooler on Saturday. On top of all that he had to make an emergency visit to a dentist for a root canal. They only good news was that they guy only charged $52 NZ (about$35 US). Other than that, he’s had a great week.

Our luck has been a lot better than Paul’s. Just hope it continues.

Stay tuned.