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Open Track Challenge 2002 -- Pat and Mark's Vegas Vacation

Event 1

Spring Mountain Motorsports Park, Pahrump, Nevada 

Happy Mother's Day Mom!   Love, Mark

We awoke at 6am after a restless night of sleep.  I actually awoke first at 4am, and as a way of putting myself back to sleep, I drove the track in my mind.  Even though I had never set foot on this track, I have studied some in-car footage.

By 7am we were at Spring Mountain Motorsports Park, which was carved out of the desert floor outside of Pahrump Nevada.   Everyone calls it a "technical" track, which means it has a collection of turns that try your patience.  It is very tight in places, and contains a few challenging turns that require you to brake while turning while downshifting while...  I think you get the picture.   

Tal Isbell and Gary Morrell are driving this supercharged Taurus SHO, which also competes in T4, our class.  Unfortunately they are having mechanical problems right out of the chute, which prevented them from fully competing today.

This is a Lotus Elise Race car which runs in the Unlimited Class.  By running in the unlimited class, they can use full race tires, and they can also tow their vehicle from track to track.  Which is required in this case, since this car is far from street legal.  We chose to run in a Touring class, which means we must use a less aggressive tire, and must drive our car from track to track.  Since our car is stock, doing this should not be a problem.

Another car that is in the same class as ours - a turbocharged Mazda RX-7, with a few modifications as well.

And we think this is the class leader in T4.  This is the Honda-from-hell.  In addition to having the power-to-weight ratio close to a Corvette, it is rumoured he is running a nitrous oxide injection system.  Nitrous can add an instaneous 50 horsepower!  This would explain what I saw in one of the run sessions.  I was keeping up with him reasonably well, then we hit a straight and he just rocketed away!   There is certainly nothing in the rules that prohibits  running Nitrous, so he is welcome to do so (even if the rumours are true).

One of a couple Acura NSX's that is competing.

A Subaru WRX 4WD Rally car!  This is a treat to see, but it didn't spend as much time on track as the drive would have liked, because Race Gasoline was not available.  This car came with its own factory mechanic.

You can see that we have added a few more decals, like our names, and some additional Mini-Mania.Com  decals.  If you have a Mini old or new, this is a website you must visit, for the latest in high performance parts.  Mini Mania provided valuable advice to our team in the preparation of the Cooper S, such as the selection of tires and brake pads.

A very nice BMW M3 of the most recent vintage.

And of course, the infamous Flame Mobile.   Hard to believe that this was once a street car.  This Acura NSX now sports fiberglass doors (and other body parts, I'm sure), as well as a supercharged motor pumping out around 375+ rear-wheel HP, while weighing less than our Mini.    You can read about the exploits of the flame mobile and its owner Doug Hayashi at his Pulp Racing website, which is THE BEST racing website on the internet, bar none.

Another view of the Acura NSX "flame mobile".  Notice the carbon fiber splitter on the front.   Unfortunately the way I like to bounce off the track curbing, I'd have to replace it once a weekend...

A view of the engine bay, through the rear window.  Yes, the engine is behind the rear seats, making this a mid-engined car, like many Ferrari's.  The difference is that this car runs...

Where-as this Ferrari F40 no longer does (run that is), as we prepare to push it into its trailer.  The owner wasn't thrilled about me taking this picture, due to the humiliation of having your $300,000 racecar being pushed.  But heck you have to let us poor schmucks that run mortal cars feel a little superior once in awhile!

As we end this day, we do not yet have results from all of today's heats.  So we will let you know how we did tomorrow.  We know we didn't finish first in class because of the Honda from Hell, so we'll just have to wait and see how we did.  We are quite possibly the only stock vehicle in our class, and certainly one of the very, very few in the whole event, so we shouldn't expect too much.    We put tires and brake pads on the car, and went "racing".

Everyone should know that we are feeling fine, however we are tired and extremely sunburned after only 1 day!  We must find a store in the morning to pick up some aloe and sunscreen.

I would write more, but we left the track at 5:00pm, then arrived at our hotel at 10:30 pm after driving to Lancaster, CA, so we are quite tired.  I am driving the F250 pickup as a support vehicle, and Pat drives the Mini Cooper S, which gets more than its share of attention, as you can imagine.  So this means I can't do my normal amount of writing like I did last year (when I wrote from the passenger's seat).   But I do hope you enjoy the update.


Go to the next part of the adventure:  Willow Springs