This July karting nationals was in Utah. My family has raced for about 10 years now and we've traveled all over the United States for these races. This was the second time that nationals have been here. It was a pretty incredible weekend to say the least and one day that will by far be the best day of 2014. Fair warning, there are tons of pictures in this post and it's long but you'll see why.
|the beginning of my dad's main|
Nationals is always during July and I have grown accustomed to being there whether it's in a corn field in the middle of nowhere Indiana or a 20 minute drive from home here in Utah.
This year my dad and brother didn't have specific tuners and so I was recruited to help my dad on the grid... there is one "mechanic" per driver. And basically when they call me a mechanic all they really mean is "keeper of the kart stand". I would help my dad get the kart off and then come help pick it up after the race or practice session etc. My dad was really his own mechanic. I didn't dare touch the karts during nationals because I didn't want to risk anything being my fault. The week was very busy and consisted of early mornings, long days, hours in the sun, which gave me a pretty decent farmer's tan, and going to bed extremely early.
I got there early in the morning to help out and Thursday was official practice. That day my main job was to use a stop watch that tracks 4 different things and use it to get lap times so we can compare them and see how our driver is doing. Have you ever tried to keep track of 4 karts that are all over the place all at the same time? Yeah it's hard.
I wrote the numbers of the karts I was tracking on my hand. My palm pilot.
See the thing about racing is it's go go go go and then wait wait wait. Hence why Dad and Garrett snuck some naps in. Driving is hard work. But really, racing is exhausting.
My dad qualified 2nd, which meant that for heat 1, 2, & 3, he would start in the second place position. We have a method to our madness and part of it is the person in the pit communicating with the driver giving them signals during the race as to what is going on right behind them. There were some awesome
gentlemen douche bags that thought it would be fun to talk about me and make fun of me while I was signaling to my dad. Did I mention they were standing a mere 3 feet away from me? I was the only girl in the grid area and I suppose that made me an easy target but in all truth it just really pissed me off and little did I know this was only the beginning of people being rude.
My dad's races went a little like this:
Heat 1: 1st place
Heat 2: 4th place
Heat 3: 2nd place
The heat races are averaged and that is where you start for the Pre-Main race.
He started 2nd for the Pre-Main. It didn't go too well and he ended up finishing 6th and got a penalty for his "tire being over the line" when the green flag flew. This landed him in 9th... where he would be starting for the main event.
Sunday afternoon rolled around and it was time for the Main. I was nervous as all get out and I wasn't even the one racing. I can only imagine how nervous my dad was.
We got him up to the grid and it was go time. He was starting 9th. He had an amazing start which landed him somewhere in the 4/5th position. So far, so good. The front of the pack was getting feisty and the battling began and the guys were out for blood and it was only 1/2 way into the first lap of a 20 lap race. Words can't even describe what happened with the next chaos. Karts were going into corners 4 wide. 3/4s of the way around the track my dad was in 4th and the 3 karts ahead of him tangled and caused a pile up. My dad somehow snuck right by them and sailed into 1st place. I have watched the video probably 10 times over and I still don't know how in the world he got through there. At that point it didn't matter though, he was in first place. Now all he had to do was drive for 20 laps and keep that lead.
Things got interesting in the pit after that. It wasn't too long after my dad stole first that I felt a huge sting on my leg. I looked down and someone had thrown a freaking rock at me! I wish I was making this crap up. It wasn't just a small pebble that possibly could have gotten flicked up and besides there was nothing close enough to me to do that. Someone had thrown a rock a little bigger than the size of a quarter at me and well, they hit their target. I looked around but of course couldn't tell who threw it because everyone was "watching" the race. At this point I was just pissed off and wanted my dad to win even more.
The guy in second place was way fast and he passed my dad at one point for a lap or so. I don't even remember what was going through my head at this point. I was so nervous and pissed off that it was all a blur. Luckily Roberts (guy in 2nd) screwed up his driving line, dropped a tire to the dirt, and my dad sailed back past him regaining the lead. At this point I had some random guy come over and stand by me. He just felt the need to come over and let me know that "Roberts is gonna take it. I don't think he can hold him off. Robert's will definitely get him." I was still fuming from earlier and I just looked at him quite dumb founded and calmly just said, "We'll see." He continued to stand there and talk about Roberts and I so kindly ignored him, although my fist didn't really want to ignore his face.
Roberts was on his tail most of the race and with about 4 laps to go made another driving mistake that gave my dad about a 7 kart lead.
That was all he needed. He crossed that finish line with about a 3 or 4 kart lead and the title of National Champion of Rotax Masters was his. I told myself earlier that day that I would be super calm and I wouldn't cry or scream or get too excited... but basically as it was all happening I was like screw it. And I screamed. And I cried. And my dad cried. And we all hugged each other so freaked tight. And we cried some more.
It was at that moment when his tires crossed that finish line in 1st place that getting a rock thrown at me and that awesome farmer's tan was all worth it.
It has been such a long time coming and no one has worked harder for it than my dad. I think the fact that he was in the hospital for 2 weeks and extremely sick 6 months ago and then won the national title might have had something to do with the mass amount of happy tears. This past year has definitely been an interesting one as my dad and I have cried together because of pain and sadness and cried together out of extreme happiness. I wouldn't change any of it for the world.
|him crossing the finish line and the checkered flag flying. And a local cheering him on.|
***funny side note: The winner of the main is supposed to go around the track one more time than everyone else, pick up the checkered flag, and do a "victory lap". In one of the heat races, a guy in my dad's class accidentally did an extra lap after the race was over and got penalized for it. My dad didn't want to risk the title over that and he wasn't sure if he should go around so he just drove into the pit. Hence why he is holding the checkered flag here.***
|the crowd back at the pit after his big win|
As much as this post is all about my dad's win I do have to mention that my brother raced as well and came in 11th out of 34 which is pretty freaked good! Way to go Garrett!! I don't have nearly as many pictures of him because I didn't go into the hot pit with him, just my dad.
|their faces totally sum up talking about an intense race|
So my dad walked away with the national title, a HUGE trophy, two grand, and a ticket to Worlds, the karting race in Spain.
|"Dad, kiss your trophy!"|
Scroll down to July 19th on this page to hear his interview.
Below is the entire race if anyone wants to watch it. It is long so I'll list some of the highlights
3:17 start of race/first corner
4:05 3 and 4 wide corners and wreck that he snuck through
6:15 moves to 2nd
7:42 steals back 1st
18:30 gets passed but steals back 1st