|We're all driving stock Chevettes. In theory the cars are
equal and it's driving skill alone that determines who will win.
It's what makes this Chevette series so interesting.
There are other factors though. Some cars simply run better than others, some people spend more time and money in preparing and maintaining their cars, some people have fresher tires, some people have better luck, etc. Still, all things considered, it's usually the same group of drivers that finds a way to the front of the pack.
Jim Graham and I both run video cameras in our cars and we watch each other's tapes afterwards. There are some minor differences in our driving styles, but I consider Jim and myself to be equally matched in experience and skill. On any given day I couldn't predict which of us would finish ahead of the other. It all comes down to whichever one of us makes more mistakes.
Generally, it's me who makes the mistakes...
|Both of us passed the #92 car of Steve Adams, and now Jim Graham
is tight on my rear bumper. He's still crowding me as we approach
the kink on the back straight.
Anxious to get away from him, I enter the left turn into the kink just a tiny bit too fast. If you watch the big tachometer dial on my dashboard, you may notice that I'm carrying just a few more RPM into the corner this time compared to the previous lap.
By the way, I don't consciously think about any of this stuff while I'm driving. There's no time for that. It's only with the luxury of hindsight and being able to study the video tape later that I spot little details like this.
|It wasn't a huge mistake.
It's not enough to make me lose control or anything. But it's enough to momentarily upset the car and I have to make a correction to catch the slide as the tail end steps out.
But little mistakes are all it takes to slow you down.
|I was hoping to cross over this dark ice and get onto the snow
covered portion of the track on the right.
But the car has swung the other way. If I try to drag it any further to the right, the back end will swing even further out of line and I may spin, especially if the front wheels suddenly grab the traction while the rear wheels are still out here on the slippery stuff.
To maintain my speed and avoid getting too far sideways, I have to allow the car to slide away to the left along the slippery ice surface. Consequently I cannot get back on the throttle as early as I would have liked.
|I can get my right front tire hooked onto some traction on the
right. But the left front tire, and more importantly both rear
tires are still floating along the dark polished ice.
It's a tricky situation. I'd like to be accelerating. But I can't because I have no traction. I want to get over to the right to find more traction. But I can't unless I slow down, and I want to be speeding up here, not slowing down.
|Finally, the tires hook up again and I breath a sigh of relief now that
I'm sure I won't slide all the way into the snowbank on the left.
In order to set up properly for the left turn coming up at the end of this straight, I will need to head all the way back to the right edge of the track.
Before changing direction I take a quick look in my rearview mirror to check what Jim is up to. Jim was right on my rear bumper, but now he's vanished.
|Puzzled, I check my side mirror and see -Yikes- Jim has pulled up
beside me on the left!
While I was tip-toeing along the buffed ice surface, Jim drove his car around the outside of the turn..
He trusted me not to squeeze him into the snowbank That was very brave of him, considering I didn't even know he was out there!
|He now has the inside position going into the left turn and there's
nothing I can do about it except hope that he slides wide on the exit
and lets me pass him back.
I take an extra wide approach hoping to cut back to the left. But that's another mistake. The snow is quite deep over here and I get bogged down.
|No way is Jim going to slide over to let me pass him back. He's knows that trick.|
|Same thing on the second left-hander. Nice and tidy. No
opportunities for me.
Note that neither Jim or I made any attempt to block each other. The faster driver is the one who makes less mistakes, not the one who swerves around enough to keep others behind him.
I screwed up, and Jim took full advantage of that.