Hello from zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C. I thought would do something different and give you a few updates from the track, as time allows. Usually we only talk about the actual race and a lot of people are curious about what else goes on for our team.
Our two Dote Racing 18 wheelers rolled out of our shop on Monday evening with crew members, Brandon Hazelton driving one and Tad Hefleck driving the other. They drove all night in order to miss traffic. They arrived at zMax Dragway in the wee hours of the morning and then they got to catch up on some rest before they got the trucks washed and emptied the tanks.
I left home on Tuesday morning about 5 for the shop in Ohio. Then Doug Kuch, Justin Sturgill, and I drove our team’s FX Caprara Dodge Durango to meet Brandon and Tad. It’s about an 8 and a half hour trip from our shop –including a short stop at Cracker Barrel for lunch.
Officials don’t allow us to park in the pits on Tuesday so all the teams just park in the field across from the track so we leave them there for the night. We got checked into our hotel and got settled in. Then we went to a good dinner at Zapata’s Mexican Restaurant. Our crew chief, Doug, has some entertaining racing stories that keep us laughing. I like getting to the race early. It’s nice to hang out with the team before racing starts.
Wednesday we parked about 11:30 to setup. Doug does his crew chief stuff and helps out Tad, Brandon, and Justin roll out the flooring, the awning, the lights, fans, tables, wash stations, and all the stuff. We don’t even get the car out. Wednesday is about setting up the pit area and cleaning. I try to stay out of the way because they like to get this part done as quickly as possible and they have their system. I stay busy by cleaning the lounges, the bathrooms, and anything else that needs cleaning. Plus I’ll help out with any misc. things that need to be done and of course update my Facebook and Twitter pages as often as possible. If I have a media event or something else, like the Globetrotters game that I went to last race, then I’ll go to that. Oh and sometimes I’ll make a lunch run for the guys.
Once we got done with our setup, which went fairly quickly, Doug, Tad, Justin, Brandon, and I went up to the starting line and discussed the change in procedures for four wide racing compared to what we’re used to with two-wide racing. I studied the 4 wide Tree a little so I know what to expect once I’m all strapped in and ready to run. Most of us racers try to do the same thing every time and don’t really have to think too much about the procedure; we don’t have “time” to think about the procedure. It has to all be automatic. Throw in a slight change, like doubling the number of racecars going at the same time, and we have to prepare ourselves for the differences.
Today (Thursday) we rolled out the car out and we’ll get it teched-in and weighed. I took a walk through the pits and saw that most of the teams are here and setting up. I’m always impressed by the amount of work that all these crews do to make our teams run. If you’ve ever walked around the pits, you will notice how immaculate and clean all the teams keep their equipment. The manufactures midway is pretty impressive too. All the setup and take down can’t be easy.
Anyway, the rest of our team and the Dotes will arrive at various times today. It should be a fun weekend. I’ll try to keep you updated as much as possible via NHRA blog, Facebook, and Twitter.