Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Some Things Never Go Forgotten
Remember the tale about the man who removed a thorn from the lion's paw and by chance many years later the lion remembered the man and saved his life... Well since I am so excited and want so badly to share my excitement, bear with me here while I make my point.
Just like any other race I have begun doing my homework and research for the entire array of items I feel necessary so that I will be as prepared for competing in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb as I can be. That said, Lucky was removed from the trailer on Monday and the preparation began. For me it's an entire ritual, see what's needed, what problems if any did the car have the last time I raced it, what will it need for this event and are there any special needs for this specific event.
It was during my research that I began wondering about tires and as it turned out there is a hell of a lot more questions than anyone could ever expect. For the most part on any road course you either need rains, or slicks and you're covered. But when running Pikes Peak the sun may be shining and 90 degrees when you start but by the time you get to the top it could raining or even snowing! Don't laugh, it happens all the time and as of right now there is still snow up there.
And if that isn't enough some of the road is asphalt, some gravel and some dirt. If it rains God only knows what to expect. As exciting as the PPIHC is, can you just imagine doing it when it's wet, slick and muddy. Yeah Baby! Part of my research included speaking with drivers who have competed in PPIHC including numerous veterans and last years winner Doug Mockett. Since vintage race cars have not run PPIHC in many years and since the road conditions have changed considerably since vintage cars last ran not much is known with regard to what sort of tire best suits all of the conditions. Then comes the strategy of what works best for each specific driver depending on their driving habits/ability on asphalt or dirt. The bottom line is it's all very complex and choosing the wrong tire can make a huge difference in the outcome of the event.
As the day wore on I found I had more questions than I did at the beginning of the day. The more people I called the more confused I became but finally I ended up talking to someone who really knew what he was talking about. And who would know more about what tires to use on PPIHC than someone who not owns a tire business in Colorado Springs but is also the PPIHC Chairman or the board Bob Gillis!!! Not only does Bob know tires but he has taken care of the tire needs for many of the great drivers who previously run Pikes Peak like Rod Millen, Unsers, Andretti and many more. Thanks to Bob for such a nice welcome and what was a rather lengthy phone call plus now I was beginning to get somewhere as he filled me in with his many years of expertise.
Under the believe that I had the tire issues sorted out it was time to call and make arrangements to get Lucky an appointment with Roger Kraus Racing Ent. Anyone in California who knows anything about racing alignment knows that without a doubt the absolute most knowledgeable racing alignment experts to be found is Roger Kraus Racing. Two years ago when we took Lucky to Race in La Carrera Panamericana Roger Kraus Racing set up the ride height, springs and alignment which turned out to be one of the single most important aspects of a two year build and one that helped place us on the podium. Take it from me... you can throw all the money in the world at a race car but unless it gets the race car alignment needed for a specific track or race your money just as well should go into the trash can.
Since Roger Kraus Racing had always been my go-to racing alignment shop I had no doubt they would know exactly what to do to prepare Lucky for Pikes Peak, what I didn't realize was the extent of knowledge that owner Roger Kraus possessed when it came to tires. Just like the phone call to Bob Gillis, once again I found myself glued to the phone listening to a master teaching me the grasshopper what makes the universe the place it is or better yet, what my best tire choice for Pikes Peak was and why.
Alas, why the lion story pertains to this post... Remember that the lion never forgot the what the man did for him. In this case Roger Kraus never forgot what I wrote about them two years ago when I wrote about what an awesome business they operate and how great they are. Today Roger told me, I have never forgotten all the kind things that you had written about our business. Furthermore, I am always trying to learn more so that I can better serve my customers. That said, I would be more than happy to sponsor all of Team California's Best tire needs to run this years Pikes Peak International Hill Climb."
Needless to say I had to pick myself up off the floor and after talking more with Roger he went on to tell me Lucky was not going to be running Pikes Peak with just any ordinary set of shoes but in fact some of the most amazing racing tires any car could ever ask for. (More on them later) For now just let me say I am walking on air tonight and there just are not enough ways to tell all of you how happy Roger Kraus Racing has made me today. Thank God the Lion didn't forget. Thanks Roger and Gang!