VINCE’S & SUGAR RIVER RACEWAY

I will confess straight up that I don’t remember much about the pizza at Vince’s Restaurant & Pizzeria. It was a Friday, I didn’t know where to go, and the Doc and I had some racing to do at Chicago Race Factory. It was the Friday before the election. Or maybe the Thursday? I don’t know. The point is that Vince’s was on the way to the track.

Some observations:

1) it was not crowded even a little on a Thursday or Friday afternoon.

2) The pizza looked like this:

vinces

you were expecting maybe a calzone?

3) Near the end of our meal the Doc and I had a convo with a very loud total stranger that went something like this:

TOTAL STRANGER(to the Doc) Are you from around here?

DOC: (confused) Um, what?

T.S.: Are you from around here? Do you come here often?

DOC: Uhh… no?

T.S.:  You look very familiar. You look like someone who comes here a lot. you look familiar. Very familiar.

DOC: Yeah, I get that a lot.

T.S.: Really?

DOC: Yep. For example, I get mistaken for Obama all the time.

T.S.: Who?

DOC: Obama, Barack Obama. The President of the United States.

T.S.: Oh. Really?

ME: No, ma’am, he’s… he’s pulling your leg.

T.S.: Oh. I like your hair. Is that yellow? Do you dye it?

ME: No, ma’am. it’s gray. Or white.

T.S.: Oh. Ok. I like it. Bye!

DOC: Well, that’s definitely going in the pizza blog.

Fin

Well that was interesting, wasn’t it? The main event though was the gokarting. Lots has changed since the Doc and I last saw CRF. They’ve fired their fetus staff and replaced it with a toddler staff. Definite improvement. Also, the staff is actually out on the track observing what’s going on. And they got more aggressive with blue flagging people (meaning get the heck out of the way, a more experienced karter is trying to pass you).  Also an improvement. They’ve also completely changed the track. It’s up in the air as to whether or not that is an improvement or not. And the staff is much more proactive about getting races started. This is not necessarily an improvement, since the staff has differing opinions on how to get everyone in a heat, and sometimes there are too many cooks involved and the whole establishment comes to a standstill while 19-20 year olds argue about the computer system.

The new staff is pretty cool, and they like ripping on the old staff, which is one of the Doc’s favorite activities. I’ll let him tell tale of how they fired his absolute least favorite employee and the unfettered joy it gave him to hear news of that.

It being a Thursday (or Friday?) kind of early in the evening, there weren’t that many people there. But I did hear the mellifluous tones of the Italian language coming from some racers waiting to get into our heat. I spoke to them a little and found out that they were largely from Emilia Romagna but now lived and worked in Evanston. The doc at one point comically tried to join in our conversation, kind of in the vein of this:

 

Most of them spoke a little bit of English, and at the end of the night we exchanged phone numbers and hopefully have some new people to race with.

Speaking of people to race with, the doc and I went up to Sugar River Raceway 2 days after the election. It was our 3rd trip there, but only our 2nd time racing (the short story is, the 2nd time we went up, we got there late and they had already started their races, and we couldn’t get in. So we had driven 2 1/2 hours up for NOTHING! Needless to say, the Maestro was pisssssed.)

Sugar River Raceway is not close, but it is quickly becoming my favorite track (next to Dallas Karting Complex, which by the way, after this weekend,  it’s safe to say that I’ve developed a Dallas Karting Complex Complex). I absolutely prefer outdoor tracks to indoor tracks. The bummer about SRR is that there are no transponders on the cars unless it’s race night, and race nights, for the most part were over for the season. There was one more to be held on Saturday, but the Doc couldn’t make it, so I convinced my wonderful wife to wake up at blarg o’clock on a Saturday morning to go up. But more on that in the next installment. Now we’re just gonna talk about SRR, its track layout. It looks a little something like this:

sugar-river-raceway-map

courtesy of the NSA… errr… google maps

The little house at the top left hand corner is right about where you start from, and you go on the long straightaway with the one small turn at the bottom of the picture, onto the longer straightaway. The Doc and I have done enough of these that we’re starting to name all the corners. The typical thing at a track is that they’ll name the corners by number. This is not only confusing, but really boring. The Doc and I prefer to name corners after people we know and like, or don’t like. For the sake of anonymity and kindness though, I’ll just refer to the corners here by characters in Thomas Hardy novels:

sugar-river-raceway-map-hardy

Wessex never looked so thrilling.

As you can see, SUE # 1 is the first time that you need to do anything serious, because it goes right into SUE # 2. Also, it’s after the longest straightaway, so you’re going as fast as you’re gonna get on the course. The Doc and I say it all the time, but the slower and more careful you take the corner, the faster you go. It’s a lot more fun to spin around and go skidding, but you lose valuable seconds that way. it’s also hard for me to remember that you need to turn in on SUE # 1 later than you think, because if you turn in too early then you’re too tight for SUE # 2. VYE was the only corner that I had mastered (or so I thought), and TESS remained (and remains) a bit impenetrable. I hate BATHSHEBA for various reasons, mainly because it’s a series of chicanes with rough pavement and bumps, and coming out of it is like coming out of a night of sleeping in a terrible bed. It’s obscured by the trees in the photo, and believe you me, the trees are part of the nightmare, since you’re going so fast that a head to head collision with a tree is not beyond the realm of possibility. In fact,  the staff there tells you not to ever pass anybody while going through BATHSHEBA.

Also note, that with the exception of TESS, every turn in this track is a left hand turn. So your left arm and elbow get quite the workout. SRR is the only track I’ve been to where they provide you with a rib protector (the Doc brings his own), so my ribs survived.

As I said, there are no transponders available unless it’s racing night, so we had no idea how we were doing, other than the fact that I kept ahead of the Doc by a wider and wider margin. Still, there was no way for us to know where we were losing time, and where we were gaining. That all happened on Saturday’s league race.

…TO BE CONTINUED

 

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