[originally published 2/24]
I spent the past weekend jumping out of the way of refueling stops, inhaling various burning lubricants, and dodging tilty port-a-potties at a ChumpCar race next to a mobile home park... and it was completely rad.
First, a short story. Unlike many self-made motorsports people, I started off in F1 rather than working my way up. I loved the sport already, then when it was announced in my hometown of Austin I got interested in the marketing game, the huge parties, Paddock club, Ecclestone’s sponsorship maneuvers (yeah yeah, let me finish, it gets better). I worked on the hospitality and media side, enough to be invited to tour garages and help plan F1 parties and have articles written about me. I wrote articles about WEC, toured even more garages, was greeted by drivers (Mr Le Mans, le sigh) and saw expensive, efficient, precise operations of teams who better eat those checkered flags for breakfast or you will lose that Swiss watch sponsorship. I watched the Monaco Grand Prix from the balcony of the Hotel de Paris in Casino Square with Champagne and lobster, and quite enjoyed the petit fours with gold leaf on top. Ah yes, wasn’t that just before the yacht cocktail party with a motorsports artist friend? Hold on, I have a point behind this bragging.
See, I’m a Texas girl. I’m not above wearing a Coors ballcap (per team kit) to a rusted-out car race on a hill near my old college town. ChumpCars had two 6-hour races at Harris Hill Road this past weekend. The race, “When Hill Freezes Over,” was a silly name on Saturday, but accurate to Texas weather regulations it was uncomfortably true on Sunday. Please pit the car so we can all warm up by it?
This race was 30+ chumpy cars driven by chumps on a 1.8 mile course for 12 hours, and NO ONE bit the dust too badly. The racing is relaxed, people have fun, you have to jump across a hot pit lane to get from one
garage trailer to another, but this is what people miss from F1. It’s just about the racing. So you have to wear a full suit and helmet while you refuel, and you might get meatballed for being too loud, and maybe there are one or two other rules. But in general, here’s what you can do:
You can decorate your car with a li’l boob. Sadly, there were rumors of a nudist colony with a car completely covered in such jugs, but they didn’t show. Maybe because it was freezing cold. Also we aren’t sure if see-through nomex exists.
Aww, a boobie. Just sitting there, looking at you.
You can be bad at measuring decibels, then fix your muffler with a dryer vent hose (actually it only worked for a few laps, as you can see):
You can use performance-enhancing pharmaceuticals:
Maybe visit that Miata with the floppy vent hose, bud
You can hail your Coors team’s car with its namesake beer can:
Marc Madison has been driving professionally for 40 years, and now is team manager of Team RRC’s Coors 1988 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe.
D’ya like dags? You can bring one. Just the one.
You can use a proper NASCAR-style roll cage:
You can use all sorts of fuel containers:
Stop me if I get too technical here, you guys. For serious.
You can be in the way, or you can be..... “out of the way” (there’s an art to this):
You can be in one of 5 classes, and race against mates such as “2 beaners in a bucket,” “Kentucky Fried Racing,” and “[probably should be censored].”
And, you can have a good time and come out a long weekend as a racecar driver.
Do I love F1 and all that it represents? Well, not completely, but I appreciate what it’s curated and I plan to keep on working on the sport. But if I want to feel like I’m part of a race, involve all 5 senses, talk to drivers and mechanics while they’re working, meet racers with legit skill and knowledge who are having a bit of fun.... I’ll probably consider ChumpCars. Or LeMons.
Thanks to Team RRC and Marc Madison, Jay Guthrie, Timothy Hiroshige Cragg, Vince Wagliardo, and Brent Chambers for opening their... tent? Trailer? Ford doors? Whatever, they were super cool to hang out with all weekend.