Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Re: Longest Day at Nelson 2007

Re: Longest Day at Nelson 2007

As related on "The Sandbox"...

There were a lot of good one-liners on the radio. The funnest one was probably listening to Bowie try to beat Professor Knestis' fast lap from earlier that day, a 1:21.289 (set right as he started to complain about the car sliding...)

Anyway, Bowie was recognizing his last stint, the second-to-last of the event, was quickly evaporating, and if he was going to shed his "jackstandiness" reputation it was high time to "get on it". So, from his fairly-consistent mid-to-high 1:22s, low 23s he starts creeping downwards...22.9, 22.5, 22.0, 21.9. I'm reading off the numbers each time he crosses and give him the obligatory pokey comment ("damn, can't even beat the car owner", or "jeez, man, you pushing all the way down? Go straighter!"). Next lap he comes across and it's a one twenty one point (un-key the mike, pause, then re-key) 371! From the cockpit we (over the loudspeaker, no less) hear "DAMMIT! OK, give me another lap."

So, he says he'll drop back for a lap to cool the tires and build a car buffer, and he comes across at a respectable 22.3 or something like that. Next time around he calls the ball but then bolters on the straight; he got balked in One, scores a 25 or so. As he crosses the line he sez to me, "I'm dropping the hammer, Harry!" and claws his way around the track. The crowd watches, breathless, as he comes around the final turn (and I'm yelling, "push harder! All the way to the floor!") and crosses the stripe...

...with a 1:21.322! I relay the information in my best taunting mode and he replies with a bellowing "DAAAAMN YOU, Nemesis!!!" (or was it "Knestis"?) and sez, "I'm NOT coming in, give me one more!" I reply, "C'mon, son, we gotta put someone else's butt in this car, Snowman here is champing at the bit! One more, that's it!";

He replies, defiantly, "This is the one, baby! If it doesn't happen now, it's just not in me!"

As he flashes by on the start of the lap, the crowd pushes forward to the wall. The car disappears under the bridge and time slows down. Watches are heard slowly, imperceptibly - deafeningly - ticking away at Father Time's assets. The whole of pit lane leans forward and looks left, straining to watch for the blue rocket to come around. Everyone mentally follows the car around the track, waiting for its return.

Suddenly, there it is! The will of the people ached it forward into time and space, the body language of thousands earnestly pushing with the mind towards that black-stained, flecked-paint white stripe. The Golf itself LEANING into the wind like one of those ancient Indy 500 photos, willing itself forward to its own destiny.

Then, just as suddenly as it had come, it's all over! The crowd sees the Blue Rocket flash out of sight under the bridge and STAMPEDES for the display on the computer. They scan quickly down the roll, looking for that green dot and the time that it represents. Greg keys the mic and declares, "One Twenty One Point..."

(...release the mic, pause, pause, pause, re-key the mic...)

"THREE ONE SIX!"

The entire paddock releases the breath they've been holding for slightly over 80 seconds, while the microphone in the car is keyed with a "Aawww! Damn. Phew! That's it guys, I'm a'comin' in". Greg replies, "Well done, my friend, well done. Pit, pit, pit this time around!"

And thus it was done. Shortly thereafter, as the Snowman was enjoying his turn, Conover Motorsports clinched the 24 hours of Nelson Ledges with a bit more than 30 minutes to go. Thoughts soon turned to beer and heading home...