.........



Getting Started:
This race adventure started on Wednesday, December 5th. I flew out to Texas to help Ray drive the race rig back down to the event in Florida. We left Midland Texas around 2pm. We were headed towards Arkansas to pick up Ray’s new E-gear Gallardo. One of us would drive while the other caught up on a little rest. We arrived at Elite around 9am to pick up the Gallardo. We took the car for a spin blasting it up to ridiculous speeds. I just knew we were getting arrested and missing the entire event in Florida. I breathed a sigh of relief when we pulled back up to the rig unscathed. We loaded the G into the trailer (not before I had a chance to snap off some killer pics), and we were “on the road again” around noon.

.....

The Calm Before The Storm:
We had two choices. Drive straight to Florida, or make a pit stop at my house in Georgia for a good dinner and night’s rest. The two hours added to the driving time was worth a meal cooked by Perla. I called her up a few hours ahead of time, and she whipped up a great steak dinner that was waiting for us as we came through the door. The filets were accompanied by double stuffed potatoes, broccoli and cheese, sautéed mushrooms, Rolls with homemade honey butter, and a made-from-scratch cheesecake. We followed that up with some great casual conversation until the wee hours of the night. We decided to finally call it a night around 3am. It sure was nice to get a good night’s rest, and have a great meal before jumping into all of the action in Florida.

.....

Onward To Florida:
Originally, this was going to be a family trip. In the end, the women and children decided that this would be a weekend just for the boys. As we were loading the rig to hit the road, I knew that several of us were probably getting arrested in Florida. I remember thinking that it would make for a cool story if nothing else. We left my house around 9am Friday morning. After fueling up, having a quick breakfast consisting of junior cheeseburgers from Wendy’s, and singing as a duo to the entire Black Eyed Peas CD, we arrived at Jason’s shop at around 3pm.

.....

Heffner’s Shop:
Several folks were already there and it was cool catching up for a few hours with the usual suspects. We went ahead and unloaded the Gallardo. Everyone loved the color. I left Big Red at the shop after the Texas mile, so it sure was nice to see her again. Jason’s shop was filled to the brim with exotics. There were eight Lambos, two GTs, and several vipers lying around. It’s always like a grown up toy store around there.

.....

Friday Night:
Around 6pm, we decided that we better start getting a game plan together for dinner. We picked a local restaurant and headed out. It sure was cool driving all of the cars through traffic. I was in Big Red, Ward had his TT-S7, Ray was in the G, Rick was in his SC Viper, and Mike had his viper as well. I brought my camera along and I thought it would be cool to get some group pictures after dinner. Ward told us about this nice fountain down the road, so we headed that way. The next twenty minutes were the most thrilling, adrenalin filled minutes I have every experienced in my life. Ward led the pack as we drove through a series of curves with nice long straights in between. I’m not sure what the hell got into us, but all I can say is that the speed limit went out of the window. It was incredible to see the whole pack of cars hit 150+ together time and time again. I hit 180 a couple of times.

After 20 minutes of no-doubt-about-it- put-your-ass-under-the-jail activity, we arrived at the fountain. It was at the entrance to a really nice community. We parked all of the cars along the curb and I whipped out the D-80. I got some good shots and we sat there talking until the guard walked up to tell us that we had to leave. I made sure to rev Big Red pretty loudly as we were leaving.

We were going to stay in the rig for the night, but Ward invited us to stay at his place. We stopped by Heffner’s to load up Big Red and Big Bird in the stacker. The guys were still working on cars at 1am trying to get them ready for the event. We locked down the rig and headed for Ward’s in the Gallardo.

Twenty minutes later we arrived at casa de Ward. I don’t want to go on and on about it, but it was stunning! He showed us the guest suites that were just off of the game room. It was around 3am when we finally settled down. Ward’s game room is badass with billiards, pinball machines, arcade games, five plasmas, a kitchen, etc. etc. I had to show off the billiards skills for a few games before it was time to call it a night. I think I finally nodded off around 4:30am.

Saturday Morning:
We got up and going around 9am Saturday morning. After thanking Ward for letting us stay at his killer house, we headed for the shop. Germaine was flying in from Atlanta, and we had to pick him up at the airport. That’s when we realized that the other cars were put up in the second level of the trailer, and obviously three were not going to fit in the G. At noon, Ray headed to the airport while I stayed in the rig, getting things ready to go make some shakedown passes.

.....

Saturday Afternoon:
As soon as they got back to the trailer, we headed for the track. Ray drove the G and Germaine and I were in the rig. We showed up at the track around 1:30pm. We parked the rig and started getting things set up. Ray cooked a mean lunch and we were ready to make a few passes. I suited up and climbed in Ray’s yellow GTS. Things felt pretty good in first and second, but when I hit third, the car lost power and started to break up. I couldn’t hear it, but I felt it. I pulled back into the pits to see what we could do about it. We decided to take it back to the shop in a single car enclosed trailer. We offloaded Big Bird and put it in the shop around 6pm. Jason and crew were working on another car, so we decided to go get some dinner and check back in a little later. The whole group of us got a big long table at Carrabba’s. We spent several hours sitting there enjoying each other’s company. After dinner, we headed back to the shop.


The Incredible Lamborghini:
I have to stop the story to make note of something profound. My friend Jerry dropped his yellow 6-speed Gallardo off to Heffner a couple of months ago to be twin turbocharged. It was completed Friday night. The car makes just shy of 900 horsepower to the wheels, and it is all wheel drive! Jason took me with him on its maiden voyage on Friday night. We took it out on the streets and cruised around for a few minutes. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. It ran like Ray’s stock G.

.....

Jason looked at me and said “hold on to your ass!” He nailed it in second and that’s when I experienced something totally new to me. The car exploded to life making all kinds of wonderful and intoxicating noises. Turbos spooling, blow off valves cycling, an exotic v-10 screaming to 8,000 rpm’s. The car made instant boost and immediately annihilated all four tires in an incredible display of forward propulsion. The car screamed through the power band so quickly that Jason briefly pinged the rev limiter at the top of second. As he quickly grabbed third, I experienced another incredible automotive first. The car lightly hazed all four tires through third gear! I could feel the car slowly shift around in the lane as the tires attempted to put the power to the pavement. For the first time in a long time, I was truly in awe of a car’s performance.

Clash Of The Titans:
Fast forward back to Saturday night at Jason’s shop. We are all sitting around the shop and we decided to see how bad Jerry’s TT-G would stack up against Ray’s new stock G. Germaine jumped in the passenger seat of Big Red armed with a camera. We headed off to a private test facility that Jason had access to. The two G’s lined up and made a go of it. Obviously, the turbo car ran away.

.....

I decided to line up next to it. I was in the left lane and Jason was in the right lane. We slowed to about 30mph or so. We didn’t really plan this out, so I wasn’t sure how we were going to start the race. After a few seconds Jason nailed it lighting up all four tires in second. Things weren’t quite as eventful for me. Big Red was a little low in the power band (still sporting the long 2.72 gears from the Texas mile) and it took a moment to spool the big 76mm turbos. By the time I got into boost, the TT-G was about a car out and pulling HARD! Big Red came into boost and pulled hard through 2nd gear. I efficiently grabbed third and the power started to pour on. At the end of third, about the time most cars would be getting a royal ass whoopin’, I was shocked to see the G still well out in front. I quickly grabbed fourth and the full 1100rw came on strong. We both let out around 130mph or so with the G still several cars out. In that race, on that night, Big Red fell to one incredible Lamborghini!

Would it have been closer if he had not been given the hit? Yes. Could my car have performed better if we had started at a higher speed so I could have spooled more quickly? Yes, but even with those two changes, I am not completely confident that I could have won that race. At those speeds, on the street, using true street tires, it is my opinion that you would be hard pressed to find a car that can run with that twin turbo Gallardo. I think that there is no denying that Big Red is a high speed monster. There would be no competition in a 1-mile race, 100-220mph race, or at the drag strip, where maximum power is king. On the street, however, traction is king, and the TT-G has plenty to spare. In my opinion, this is one of the best street cars I have ever experienced. I am just glad that if I had to lose to anyone, it was to Jason driving Jerry’s car.

We headed back to the shop as I licked my wounds. It was all that we talked about for the rest of the night. Jason found that the AEM on Big Bird was acting up causing the car to break up at higher speeds. He quickly replaced that and put the car on the dyno. After a few pulls and some slight adjustments to the tune, the car was ready to go racing. It was 2am Sunday morning as we closed up the shop. We headed back to the track in the Gallardo and Big Red. They had everything locked up, so we parked the cars at the gate and jumped the fence. We walked to the other side of the track (where the rig was parked) at 3am. I was absolutely beat, but for some reason, we slapped “Superbad” in the DVD player and ate some snacks. I think I finally dozed off around 4:30am.

Sunday Morning:
We woke up late to the sound of announcements from the track officials over the PA system at around 9am Sunday morning. Ricky brought Big Bird in his trailer back to the track from Heffner’s. We unloaded the car and got it ready to make some passes. We also rode over to the gate to bring both of the cars that were parked outside back over to the rig. They had a driver’s meeting and cars started making passes. They ran the street tire class first killing the track prep. After that was finished up around noon, I suited up, and jumped in Big Bird to make a pass. I did a burnout and staged the car. I set the car up on the limiter and side stepped the clutch. Boom! Nothing happened. The car didn’t move. I thought I broke the rear end until I let the clutch out again and putted it down the track and back to the rig. I found out that the car simply spun the tires. There wasn’t even a hint of traction. I might as well have been launching in a puddle of water.

We parked the car and went to talk to the track officials. I told them that the street tires were killing the track and requested that one of the lanes be for slick tires only. They agreed and slightly re-prepped the track. Around 1:30pm, we lined up to make the second pass. Ray was aggravated that the track prep was not there and I could tell that he was very close to packing everything up. I asked him to let me see what I could do with it. I did a burnout, staged the car and sidestepped the clutch on the 2-step. Boom, again, I didn’t move three feet. No traction. I almost went on down the track to put the car on the trailer, but I decided to give it one more shot. I stopped, put it in reverse and re-staged the car. As the car was pinging off of the 2-step, I was hoping that we would find traction. I side stepped the clutch one last time.

It wasn’t a perfect launch, but it held pretty well. I felt the front end of the car leave the earth and everything in my body told me that something was going right. The car went pretty straight and I shifted as quickly as I could. I remember thinking that first and second felt pretty good, but third and fourth needed more power. Lots more power! I pulled down the return road to find that we had just busted off an 8.628 @167.16 on a terrible track, in 85 degree air, and 15lbs of boost! That was a pretty nice start.

I pulled back up to the rig and told Jason that we needed to throw some serious power at this thing. It felt like it couldn’t get out of its own way on the big end and I was ready to see what this thing could do. He told me, “Have patience, grasshopper”, so we added a couple of pounds of boost and got ready to make another pass. That’s when I found out that instead of racing until six o’clock, we only had the track until three. That left just enough time to make one more pass.

I got in the car and pulled up to do the burnout. I staged the car and brought it up on the 2-step. As I side-stepped the clutch, I felt the car leave the line while spinning the tires. I knew we had wheels up action on that one. I nailed the first two shifts and I could tell that was a pretty clean pass. The 3-4 shift was a little lazy, but they can’t all be gems. About halfway down the track, the car started to wander around a little on me. I felt like I was getting a little too close to the centerline, and I almost lifted. At the last minute, I decided to drive through it and the car got back in shape. The car still felt a little slow in third and fourth, and I knew we had a ton left to add. Unfortunately, we were out of track time. I was pretty pleased to find that we ran a 8.574 @ 170.22 with a 1.399 60’ in 85 degree weather on 18psi.

We didn’t run the numbers we were looking for, but for a couple of shakedown passes in less than ideal conditions, I think we did pretty well. We loaded the cars and got the rig road ready. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone, but it was time to go. It sure was a blast hanging out with everyone and I can’t wait to get together in March at the Texas mile and the TX2K8.