Day 194 – Las Vegas, Baby

vegasLas Vegas, Lost Wages, Sin City, What Happens in Vegas….we all know the city.  There is so much to do in Las Vegas it is hard to get started sometimes.  Casinos, shows, strip clubs, amusement of every variety, all to be had for a few sheckles.  So when I tell you about our time in Vegas, please don’t judge.

We moved the semi from Congress, Arizona up to Cedar City, Utah – met with BLM, a couple more errands, then off to Vegas.  The Mint 400 put on by Best in the Desert is going on this weekend, we are going for the contingency party on Fremont Street.  Always a good time to see friends.

We pulled in to town in the late afternoon, the hotels in town are expensive this week with so much going on.  Monster Jam Finals, Mint 400, Spring Break – the hotel I usually pay $60 was asking $135 – no way was I paying that for a crappy bed.  If I’m paying that much, a Hampton Inn is in order.  I love Hamptons, great beds, breakfast, consistency.   The best price on a Hampton is $94 – only catch, it’s out in Summerlin, not exactly metro Las Vegas, getting around will be a bit inconvenient.

We checked in, then drove Josh down to Fremont Street and dumped him off with some friends, the party was hopping down there.  Rich and I drove back out to our hotel, a quick stop at a 7-11 and we were in for the night.  I should have taken a picture as to what thrills me in Vegas….a bathtub, a pint of ice cream, a big water, and for Big…a remote control.  I was in heaven.  We’ve been on the road since KOH, this is the first night that we weren’t working.

In the morning we went out for a shop visit to a friend who has moved to Vegas from Austin, talked some business then off to the Mint Contingency.  I think I’ve described it before in context of SCORE, the Mint is the same, all the cars have to come down the street to tech, vendors have booths set up all along the way, there is a party atmosphere, lots of excitement.  We spent the day visiting with friends in the industry, old party buddies, teammates and crews, it was a great day.

Topped it off with sushi at a local place beside our hotel and called it a night.  So our Vegas trip probably wasn’t like most, no alcohol, no party, no gambling, no debauchery, but it was just what I needed, a quiet night (or two) and a clean, comfortable room…did I mention a bath, I love a bath.


Day 200 – It’s a wonder I’m ever allowed out alone

A few weeks ago I told y’all about my new hydration pack and how much trouble I had the first time using it.  I’m still walking, still walking the race course and having fun doing it.  I love my app MapMyWalk, and I’m using it to keep track of not only where I am but how far I walk.  Earlier this week, before the whole course was marked, I needed it to find my way home, all the roads intertwine where I am and I used the tracking to see what my relation was with where I started, whew, I was glad to have it.

Tonight, we got back from doing laundry a little after five, the course is finally fully marked, so I wanted to get out and see if I could follow it.  It’s always a good test for the boys if I can see the arrows at the snails’ pace I walk, the drivers can probably see them at speed.  So I strapped on my hydration pack, clipped a radio to the shoulder and off I went, straight west in to the setting sun.  The very first thing I did was run into a piece of rebar sticking out of the ground about yay height.  Right smack dead center, yes, you can picture it, bruised my hoo-hah.  I walked that off and continued…

Around 7, Big called my radio to see how I was doing, good, my app showed I was three miles in, only one to go.  He reminded me that it was getting dark in about twenty minutes.  No problem, I said, I’m good.  He tentatively asked if he should come get me.  No, I’m fine, and I kept walking.  Down the double caution, in to the big wash, I could still see the arrows, kind of.  I found a turn arrow and turned up out of the wash – I called Big, “hey, do I go up the right or the left line?”  I told him where I was and he asked if I had gone through the brush yet, I had no idea where he was talking about, so I kept climbing.  First up the right line – the granite boulders got huge – I decided it must be the left line, so I headed over to there.  As I’m climbing up this mountain, I realize that I can’t see a damn thing, perhaps I should ask him to come get me.

Turns out, I missed the next arrow in the wash, and had made a wrong turn, the mountain I was trying to climb was fairly impassable, not only that, I would have had to scale some boulders at the end of the course to get back to camp.  I hate being rescued, now Big’s making me add a whistle and a flashlight to my hydration pack.  Men…. rescue a damsel in distress one time and they think you need them every time!


Day 206 – Long, busy Mexican weekend

scoreintWe love going to San Felipe, from the tacos to the shrimp quesadillas, to the Malecon, to the chilequilles at breakfast.  Our favorite restaurants, our favorite people, it is a great little place.

Our friends Roger and Elise Norman have purchased SCORE International, this weekend marks their first event as SCORE.  Roger re-started HDRA last year, so it’s not like it’s his first race as a promoter, just the first one as SCORE.  SCORE has a great reputation as the biggest, baddest race series in Baja, and it is well deserved.  It has a 40 year history in desert racing.  Roger has big shoes to fill in replacing Sal Fish as the head of SCORE.  But what we know about Roger is that he also has great vision and a terrific business culture.

On Thursday, we wandered around getting our pit plan together for the team that we are chasing for.  In the afternoon when we got back to town, we stopped in at the Hacienda Don Jesus which is SCORE headquarters for the event.  My plan was just to say hi to Elise and head out again, I knew they were busy, but as we stepped in to the conference room and saw a number of teams standing around to register and her with little help, I said those little words that I need to practice not saying…could you use some help?  Her smile said it all, I ran and got a taco for lunch (I’m no good when I’m h-angry) and returned to help with registration.

Registration of drivers is something I understand, I do it every week for our competitors and spent 60 hours at KOH doing the same, it’s just one of those things I’m good at.  Sign a few waivers, double check info, collect some money, slap some wristbands on and smile while you do it.  I can keep the drivers laughing through the process so they don’t complain about the wait, and still do the job efficiently.

Stand by for my soap box:   What I don’t understand is people who bitch about having to work.  The girl next to me managed to say “technically we aren’t even open” at least 15 times to drivers, who, I might add, don’t care – nor should they.  In addition, she found the need to huff and puff about any little thing that wasn’t perfect, she and her friend both, who was supposed to be in charge, acted like entitled, spoiled children. People like that make me crazy.  In the race world, whether you are happy to be there or not, the drivers are your product, without them you don’t have a race, so they deserve the utmost respect and consideration AT ALL TIMES!  Yeah, they ask annoying questions, yeah, they show up early and late; yeah, they expect a lot – that’s ok, they deserve it – without them, there is no need for us.

Race week is hectic, it is crazy, it is hours and hours of work, it doesn’t matter what series I’m working for, whether as a volunteer, a paid employee, or an owner, you do whatever it takes to get the job done.  That means extra hours, no days off, nights without sleep.  My best friend used to tell me I could sleep when I’m dead, and right he was.  If you do anything, give it your all, being paid does not mean you are entitled, in fact, it means you should treat your volunteers even better than you expect to be treated.  Oh wait, I think I bitched about that at the Rose Parade too….hmmm…I’m seeing a pattern.

My thanks to the Normans for letting me help, aside from dealing with the couple of people who frustrated me, I loved helping the competitors and hope I get the opportunity to do that again.


Day 207 – SCORE San Felipe 250

shafferRace Day:  San Felipe, Baja, California – Mexico:   Shaffer Motorsports is running a Class 10 car, 254 miles, most of which is north and west of San Felipe, our job is communications.  We actually do this often (at least annually) for the Shaffer team.  In theory, our job is to track the car, provide updates to the pit crews, and updates to the driver about his competitors.  We are pretty good at it most days, with a TelCel card; laptop; AT&T phone service; Spot Tracker; PCI Race Radios and a mast, we can keep track of most of what is going on.

Today, I felt helpless. We had picked a spot on the top of the hill between the north and south loops of the race; just after the split off of Highway 5 to Highway 3 – most of us call that section Three Poles.  The first thing we did was raise the mast for the radio, as we were doing that, our friend Mariah picked up and broke our mast in three places.  We lowered it and set up as best we could.  We know from past experience that the radio in the race car is weak, so without the tall mast, we couldn’t hear them.  Fail #1.

The spot we picked had AT&T service, so we could communicate by text with some of the pit crews and by phone with some of the others. So that was acceptable.  What it didn’t have was 3G service so the laptop would work, so I wasn’t able to watch the IRC tracker, Fail #2.  Thank goodness for updates from our stateside helper, Sarah.

Our race team has two race channels Shaffer 1 which the race car stays on; Shaffer 2 which is designed for the pit teams to talk to each other to keep the chatter down so we don’t distract the driver and co-driver.  Several of our pit teams only had Shaffer 1, so we had to talk to them there.  Fail #3.

We tracked and followed the race team until they were within 15 miles of the finish line, then headed in to town to see them cross.  It is always exciting to see the finish of a race, especially in Baja where the challenges are enormous.  Pleased to see our drivers in one place, imagine my surprise when Shaffer touched my shoulder and thanked us for being there.  He said hearing us call the updates, even though they couldn’t respond helped to motivate him and keep his head in the game.  I guess maybe we didn’t fail after all.  Congrats to the Shaffer #1066 on another successful race effort, thanks for letting us be a part of it.

Day 209 – Monster Party

monsterRight now, my life is about firsts, new experiences, trying new things, going to new places.  It is the growth that comes with discovery that I appreciate.  Last night was a new first for me, probably didn’t add any growth to my psyche, but it sure was fun.

San Felipe, Baja California – Mexico.  Los Arcos was the site of the Monster/Tecate VIP party at the Score International San Felipe 250 and I had a VIP pass.  Now that really doesn’t make me any more special than anyone else who was there, it amounted to a separate (higher) stage to watch the festivities, a little food and a little drink, I just didn’t have to pay for mine.  What I enjoyed most was watching, I’m not a voyeur, but I love to observe people.  It is some of the most fun I ever have.

Last night was no exception, all Mexican race parties have those girls – the cute, young girls dressed in their uniforms – last night had the Monster girls, all raven haired with fish net stockings and 8” skirts; when they weren’t in one spot, the Tecate girls with their red and black checkered flag wear were there.  The men in the arena all want their pictures taken with the girls, and the girls are great posers.  Each one has one look for the camera and one look only.  No genuine smiles, no laughter, just girls on display.

Watching the girls isn’t near as much fun as watching the men around them.  But it’s not just that, in the race world there are probably 12 men for every woman, and I’m being generous.  There are probably 50 men to every single woman, but that doesn’t stop them all from trying.  It is a male ritual that is handed down through generations, it even crosses species.  To watch them preen and pump and try to win the girl, especially in an alcohol fueled situation, cracks my ass up.

The conclusion of the night was typical, I didn’t see any girl leave with any guy she didn’t come with, but no doubt pictures and bragging will go home with the men and giggles will go home with all the girls.  Personally, I had a blast, not having to be part of that scene allows a ton of freedom to just go and enjoy, and I did.

Day 215 – BAM!


Like lightening, I had a thought today – I totally understand what happened to the summer of 2012.  It passed so quickly I don’t remember a thing, now I know why.  Race season.  I’ve been true and faithful to my blog since my birthday, posting almost daily, sharing my world with others, race season started two weekends ago and I’m already behind.

We had a race last week in Auburn, Alabama…this weekend was Bryan, Texas.  There are so many pieces, parts that have to happen to put an event on, there seems to be no time for anything else.  Now I get it, last year we didn’t schedule great and had eight weeks in a row, that would be the

majority of my summer.  This year we have scheduled better, we get a week off at least every two – well, maybe not a week off exactly, but at least there isn’t an event every weekend.

Yesterday’s Main Event saw a great ending, The checkered flag was thrown for winner as he came through the finish; he was followed quickly by six additional racers; one had broke about three laps back and would be the only 4400 class to not see the checker.  Left on course was Tony Arledge from Austin within sight of the checkered flag, but with no steering.  He had made the turn on to the short course and his car led him up the embankment towards the pond; Tony got it stopped, but could go no further, we could see him from the start/finish line.  Tony ran back to the pits to get tools and parts to fix it, we left the clock running. After a few minutes, the co-driver called in and asked if he could help steer from outside; there were no other cars on course, so Big approved it.

There were a number of drivers at the start/finish line who noticed what was going on and started out to help; Big called them back – this is a no chase race; they looked at each other and back to Big, said no problem, no one is going to protest the finish and off they fled.  The drivers steered the car down in to the bowl, around the dirt track and up the hill to the finish line by physically shifting the tires in to the direction they needed to go. Car #595 had plenty of horsepower available, but manual steer was required, Tony Arledge took the checkered flag for his first race of the season.  It was awesome to see the team work.

I’m so proud of our Dirt Riot family, the way they work together, the way they play together.  I am truly one lucky girl, even if this summer disappears like last years’ did, at least I will be in good company every weekend.