We awoke this morning at 7:00 am, got showered, had coffee, a crappy hotel donut and hit the road for Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Illinois. With a 1.5-mile infield road course that incorporates part of the NASCAR oval, the infield course is not only fast, but wicked fun as well. The paddock area was quite nice with garages available for One Lap participants. This not only kept us out of the sun but also provided us with some downtime so we could regroup.
It also gave us the opportunity to feel like human beings again. Since the Gateway course was an infield run it was nice and flat; this is the type of course that the Charger loves and it showed, because I was actually able to reel in some faster cars including a Porsche RS America, a BMW M3 and a Subaru WRX STi. It was a very good morning.
The day, however, did not go without some casualties. There was a very nice Subaru WRX STi that broke something in the rear suspension and tucked a rear wheel under the quarter panel, as well as a quick spin off by a Mini Cooper S. The hunt for first place is also getting very heated with the top 5 spots being taken by a Porsche GT2, Nissan GT-R, Corvette Z06, another Corvette Z06 and Porsche 997 Turbo. Only ten points currently separate the top two contenders… it’s that close.
As the day is set up in two sessions, the general rule of thumb is to go out in session one and learn the track, and then romp on it in session two. So far it’s a strategy that’s worked well for us. We’ve also begun thinking about running the event next year. For instance, I’m not so sure that I’ll be taking the Charger. Don’t get me wrong, I love my car but you just can’t be competitive in a 42-year old car with bolt-on parts. The other factor is fuel – we’re simply using too damn much of it. Where everyone else is getting 15 mpg or better, we’re struggling along at 10 mpg and filling up every 140 miles or so. This not only kills our time on the open road, but it’s also frustrating as hell. Now, could we make the Charger a bit more competitive? Sure, but at what cost? I mean we could do a full roll cage, 33 gallon fuel cell, fuel injection, gears, etc… etc… etc. Or I could just go out and buy something better suited to the event. It’s a debate we’ve been having all week.
We ran the day without incident and then jumped in the car for a 389-mile run to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Track in New Lexington, Ohio. Whilst in the car we began to go over our dietary needs for the rest of the week. So far we’ve been living on Red Bull and granola bars: I mean it works, but by the end of the day you’re intestinal tract is shot to hell. So, it was “eat more crap and get in early” or “stop, have a nice meal and get in late” – we decided we needed to eat. Steak and a side of crab legs fit the bill perfectly, and for the first time in a week we almost felt whole again. Once dinner was done, we jumped in the car and set the go pedal at 88 mph… we got to New Lexington at 12:06 am and promptly passed out cold.